Bemidji is poised to have a new mayor in 2011.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann announced this past weekend that he is going to run against Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, for the Minnesota House 4A seat. (If this is news to you and you want to learn more, you can read Political Editor Brad Swenson’s article on the announcement at www.bemidjipioneer.com/event/article/id/100016614)
The city’s mayoral position is a two-year term, which means that if Lehmann wanted to hold onto his seat, he would have had to run for re-election this year. A candidate cannot file for multiple seats at once (i.e. you can’t run for Bemidji mayor and state House simultaneously); thus, Lehmann will step down as mayor at the end of this year whether he wins the 4A seat or not. (Although he could always run again for mayor in a later year, if he were to choose to do so…)
There are three other council seats (four-year terms) up for election this year: Ward 2, currently represented by Councilor Roger Hellquist; Ward 4, currently represented by Councilor Jerry Downs; and the city’s at-large council position, currently represented by Councilor Barb Meuers. While those three would be unable to file for both re-election and the mayoral position, any of them could choose to run for the mayoral position and just give up their current council seat.
Current city councilors whose seats are not up for re-election also could choose to run for mayor (Ron Johnson, Greg Negard and Kevin Waldhausen). But, if any of those three men were to run and win the mayoral election, he would have to resign from his councilmember seat.
Of course, we won’t know for several months yet who actually files for City Council. Council filing is later this year.
But the council will change, we know that for sure now following Lehmann’s announcement.
That makes this election season, perhaps, even more interesting. Will we have a completely new mayor? Someone not now on the council? Will a sitting city councilor be "promoted" to mayor? Will former Ward 5 Councilor Nancy Erickson, who lost to Lehmann in the 2008 elections, try again?
I certainly don’t know. Sure, I’ve heard a rumor or two in the last few months, but I don’t know anything officially.
Do any of you readers out there have any thoughts?
Reporter’s note: Apparently my info is old. I thought filing was July 6-20, but that has changed. Read comments for more info. on filing dates.