election season begins…

Tomorrow marks my third anniversary with the Pioneer, but this is actually my first full election season here. I was kind of here for the 2008 elections, but I missed a big chunk – including the primary portion – as I was on maternity leave. I returned in time for the general election, but I still missed quite a few of the debates.

Elections, as with budgets, are not always fun to cover – but I most often do enjoy them. Anything that breaks up weekly routines is appreciated.

Anyhow, we’ve gotten a few calls this week on how we will be covering elections and when we are going to start interviewing candidates and such. So I thought, perhaps, I could explain a bit about our process moving forward (which, by the way, could change – you just never know).

First, it’s important to note that election season started prior to filing actually opening. Some potential candidates sent notices/press releases announcing their intentions to file for office (i.e. current Councilor Ron Johnson, who is running for mayor).

We ran those press releases as we received them.

Then filing opened. (I should note at this time that filing was May 18 to June 1 only for those races that had the possibility of primaries; another round of filing will be Aug. 3-17 for those races – such as Bemidji School Board – that do not have primaries.)

Throughout the filing period, I ran notices of candidates who filed for the council, pretty much daily. Or, more accurately, whenever there was at least one new candidate.

But also during this time period, I continued to receive press releases from candidates announcing their campaigns. We ran these, too, when they were received (such as those from council candidates Jim Thompson and Rita Albrecht).

But there are plenty of candidates that we have not run press releases on – and that, simply, is because they have not submitted anything. If a candidate chooses to submit a press release, we will continue to run them. (However, we probably would just run one announcement per candidate – we don’t need weekly updates. At least not for print. Candidates are welcome to send me as much information as they want – I just may not run it in the newspaper. Might make good blog topics though…)

But, for now, no, I am not doing interviews with candidates. Of course, any candidate is always welcome to call and talk to me or set up an appointment to come in and talk, but, at this point, it would be more of a conversation for background information than a formal interview.

So those are my thoughts.

And, in case someone wants yet another list of council candidates, here you go:

Bemidji mayor

- Ron Johnson

- David Lalone

- Dave Larson

- Laverne "Pedie" Pederson

- Adam Steele

Ward 2 councilor

- incumbent Roger Hellquist

- Reed Olson

- Richard Sathers

Ward 4 councilor

- Rita Albrecht

- incumbent Jerry Downs

at-large councilor

- Linda Lemmer

- Byron Rock

- Jim Thompson

Oops

Just a quick update: I forgot to type the work "not" in an article today. So, for the record: Barb Meuers, the current at-large member of the Bemidji City Council, has announced that she will not seek re-election.

We’ll run a correction tomorrow and I fixed the council story online. But just in case someone was wondering, I thought I’d post it here.

My apologies.

- Bethany

Bemidji to get new mayor

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?

- Bethany

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.