UPDATED: Erickson remains in Ward 5 seat on the Bemidji City Council
Editor's note: Beltrami County officials announced on Wednesday morning that due to an error some absentee ballots were not correctly added to the Secretary of State's website, causing vote counts to be listed inaccurately. Vote totals now reflect the official winner of the Ward 5 race.
BEMIDJI -- Incumbent Nancy Erickson seems to have once again fended off challenger Don Heinonen in the Ward 5 race for the Bemidji City Council.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Erickson led with 797 votes over Heinonen's 637 votes, with Erickson receiving 50.78% of the votes.
The two longtime Bemidjians faced off with the council’s three foreseen issues at the forefront. Erickson, 73, was first elected in 2000, held the seat until 2008, then again from 2012 and until now. Heinonen challenged Erickson in 2016 and also ran for council in 2014 and 2018.
Both spoke of funding for Bemidji’s new water treatment plant, the Sanford Center and an expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, issues the council will deal with in the coming term, while campaigning for the seat.
The city council recently decided to move forward with litigation against 3M to create dollars for the water treatment plant, which also received bonding money from the Minnesota Legislature.
“That project, I would say, is second only to the Sanford Center in cost to the city taxpayer and seriousness for our financial future,” Erickson said in mid-October.
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Erickson supports the half cent sales tax and also a hospitality tax to cover operating costs and for capital improvements at the Sanford Center and possibly other city-owned operations such as the wastewater treatment plant.
“We would like to use that hospitality tax to help alleviate the tax burden on the city taxpayer for those operations,” she said. “In each of these cases (the sales and hospitality tax) there would be more than likely, monies we could use for other things as well,” Erickson said in the Pioneer's Voter's Guide.
Erickson has lived in Bemidji for 37 years and is a retired eligibility specialist for Beltrami County Human Services with an accounting degree from Bemidji State.
Both candidates said they were running on experience -- Erickson with actually having been in the seat for 16 of the last 20 years and Heinonen with participation on different commissions, having attended meetings and running for the past several elections.