Ward 2 special election set for May 12

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BEMIDJI -- Residents in northeast Bemidji will have a new City Council representative this year.

On May 12, the city will conduct a special election for the Ward 2 City Council seat. The ward makes up much of the northeast area of the city, extending west to Park Avenue, including the Bemidji Regional Airport.

The special election comes after the Bemidji City Council declared a vacancy at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 3. The move followed the resignation of former Ward 2 Councilor Mike Beard, who left the position because of health reasons.

Beard was elected to the seat in 2018, defeating Jaime Thibodeaux 397-356. He was sworn in at the start of 2019, leaving more than 365 days in a term, which triggers a special election.

During Monday's meeting, the council set the filing period for interested citizens from Feb. 10 to Feb. 25. According to state statute, if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, a second election will take place with the top two candidates.


The second election with the two front-runners would take place Aug. 11, the same day as the Minnesota state primary.

Over the course of the discussion on the special election, At Large Council member Jim Thompson made a motion to make an official plea to Beard, asking him to rejoin the governing body. The motion died as it lacked a second.

The upcoming special election will be the second in four years for the city. In May 2017, Patrick Plemel defeated Richard Lehmann 122-86 to represent Bemidji Ward 4. The election was ordered after Reed Olson resigned from his seat, as he moved to a position on the Beltrami County Board.

Plemel later resigned his seat in December 2017, as he moved to North Dakota for a career opportunity. Because there was less than 364 days left in the term, an appointment process was conducted and the council selected Lehmann to take the seat in January 2018.

Before 2017, the last special election held in Bemidji took place in 2001.

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