Voter's Guide 2022

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Bemidji City Council ........3-4 Beltrami County Board .....5-9 Beltrami County Sheriff .... 10


Bemidji School Board.... 11-13 Minnesota Senate............. 14 Minnesota House .........15-16




2 | OCTOBER 29, 2022





OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 3


Peterson runs unopposed in Ward 2 race BY NICOLE RONCHETTI The Bemidji Pioneer

Josh Peterson is running unopposed in the race for the Ward 2 seat on the Bemidji City Council. He won his position on the council in a special election held in August 2020, defeating Jamie Thibodeaux 224-140. The special election for the ward was called after former

council member Mike Beard resigned from the position earlier that year due to health reasons. Peterson is the executive director of Visit Bemidji and has also been an anchor for Lakeland PBS. “I want to simply continue the great work that we started,” Peterson said in speaking with the Pioneer about his reelection plans. “We have some great

momentum.” Peterson wants to continue his work on public safety, attracting businesses and jobs and protecting the natural resources that make Bemidji special. “(We can) be proactive about protecting our natural resources, our lakes, our rivers, and all the natural resources that everyone comes to Bemidji to know and love.”

Josh Peterson ► Age: 41 ► Executive Director of Visit Bemidji, guest anchor at Lakeland News ► Born and raised in Bemidji ► Has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Broadcast Journalism from BSU and a degree in Political Science from UMN Twin Cities


Hoefer looks to unseat Rivera from Ward 4 seat Emelie Rivera ► Age: 47 ► Is a paralegal at a local law firm ► Has lived in Bemidji over 30 years ► Earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Indian Studies from BSU and master’s in Social work from UMN Duluth

David Hoefer ►Age: 55 ►Retired Bemidji Fire Chief ►Has lived in Bemidji for 12 years ►Earned an associate’s degree in Fire Technologies from NTC


Incumbent Emelie Rivera is hoping to retain her seat on the Bemidji City Council on Nov. 8, while former Bemidji Fire Chief David Hoefer hopes to claim the Ward 4 spot.

Emelie Rivera

Emelie Rivera was elected to the council in 2018, defeating former incumbent Richard Lehmann 509 to 426. Rivera is a paralegal at a private law firm and also serves on the state guardian ad litem board. “I wanted to provide a perspective that I didn’t necessarily hear when I was running for office the first time,” Rivera said. “Now that those voices are coming forward I really want to continue to amplify that.” Rivera has been a part of multiple projects as a member of the council, including the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. “Local government has an opportunity to make decisions that impact the future health, safety and welfare of the entire community,” Rivera said. “To be a part of the projects that we see come to fruition, it’s really encouraging.” Rivera has also been a part of several city commissions and helped create the Police Advisory Commission and the Sustainability Commission. “It’s been so exciting to be a part of that,” Rivera said. “I want to foster the continued growth and development of what we offer as a city.”

Rivera also believes in representing the diversity of Ward 4 and working to ensure that every voice is heard when making decisions that could impact the community. “I’ve spent my professional career advocating for people whose voices aren’t necessarily heard,” Rivera said. “I want to make sure that when decisions are made we consider all of the diversity in the ward and bring all of those voices to the table.”

David Hoefer

David Hoefer has lived in Bemidji since 2010 and served as fire chief for the Bemidji Fire Department for 11 years before his retirement in December 2020. “It’s important to have choice in our elections, that’s one of the things that makes our democratic system healthy and strong,” Hoefer said. Hoefer believes his experience working with the city in the past makes him well-suited for the position, and his priorities will include fiscal responsibility and economic development. “I’m a strong believer in economic development, helping our community grow through good economic development that encourages expanded business growth,” Hoefer said. Hoefer also hopes to improve transparency in government practices. “I’m also a strong advocate for transparency in government and making sure that what we’re doing in government is open,” Hoefer said, “that our public is able to see that and they’re given the opportunity to participate in the process.”


4 | OCTOBER 29, 2022



Councilors face off for at-large position BY NICOLE RONCHETTI The Bemidji Pioneer

Current Bemidji City Councilors Ron Johnson and Audrey Thayer are running head to head for the at-large position on the council, meaning a special election will follow for one of their current seats after the winner is named in the Nov. 8 election.

Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson is currently the council representative for Ward 3, a position he’s unable to run for again following redistricting. His current term representing Ward 3 continues through 2024. Johnson was first elected to the city council in 2000 and is serving his sixth consecutive term, which he won in 2020 after defeating challenger Greg Kuhn 924-608. He is a promotion manager for Lakeland PBS. “I thought this opportunity to run for at-large is probably one of the better options I have, I would like to continue serving on the council past my current term,” Johnson said.

Johnson believes that his years of experience and knowledge of the city make him a qualified candidate to represent the entire city on the council. “As Mayor Pro Tem and a lifelong Bemidji resident who has actually lived in three of the wards over the course of my life … I’m very familiar with the town,” Johnson said. Johnson has been an active member of the League of Minnesota Cities, an organization for which he is currently presidentelect. “I just thought it would probably be a natural step to run for the at-large position,” Johnson said.

Audrey Thayer

Audrey Thayer is the current council representative for Ward 1 and was elected in 2020 defeating Joe Gould 476-408. She has lived in Bemidji for more than 30 years and is an instructor at Leech Lake Tribal College. Thayer is also an enrolled member of White Earth Nation. “My decision was to run so I could serve the entire city,” Thayer said. “I’ve been involved

in the community like an at-large councilor, I’ve done it since my term started.” Another reason Thayer is running for the at-large position is to allow her more time to finish the projects she’s been involved with on the council. “I think that being at-large allows time to finish those projects,” Thayer said. “It allows me to continue being an action-oriented council person.” Thayer feels she brings fiscal responsibility and on-the-ground involvement to the position and has helped in the creation of the Police Advisory and Sustainability Commissions. In addition to her work as an educator and councilor, Thayer has also been involved in community service, participating in the Ridgeway Neighborhood Initiative and working with Bemidji’s homeless population. “I believe that our responsibility is to work hard and be visible, not just on council nights and votes, but actually being in the community and listening,” Thayer said.

Ron Johnson ► Age: 72 ► Current Ward 3 Councilor and promotional manager at Lakeland News ► Lifelong Bemidji resident ► Has degrees in Visual Arts and Graphic Design, and Television and Radio Broadcasting from BSU, Alexandria Community and Technical College and Brown College in Minnesota

Audrey Thayer ► Age: 71 ► Current Ward 1 Councilor and is an instructor at Leech Lake Tribal College ► Has been a Bemidji resident for over 30 years ► Holds a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies, a master’s in Education in Counseling Psychology and is working on a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership


BEMIDJI CITY COUNCIL - At Large Believing In Community

Prepared and Paid for by Audrey Thayer for Bemidji City Council Committee. 1212 America Ave. NW, Bemidji, MN 56601

• Consistent in Sound Decision Making • Provides Responsible Leadership • Brings Years of Knowledge and Experience



OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 5


Morrissey to challenge incumbent Gaasvig for District 1 seat BY NICOLE RONCHETTI The Bemidji Pioneer

Due to redistricting, all five districts of the Beltrami County Board are up for election on Nov. 8. In District 1 incumbent Craig Gaasvig will run against Mark Morrissey for a position as county commissioner.

Craig Gaasvig

Craig Gaasvig was elected to the county board in 2018 when he won against Natalie Grosfield 2,037-1,709. Gaasvig is a regional account manager at North Country Business Products. “I’m trying to just give back to my community, especially after growing up here,” Gaasvig said. “I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.” Gaasvig is also the chair of three local boards, the Cass Lake Rural Fire Association, the Blackduck Ambulance Emergency Services Board and the Mississippi Headwaters One Watershed One Plan Board. “I take the position very seriously,” Gaasvig said, who mentioned he studies

before each session and that he has only missed one meeting in three and a half years. A primary reason Gaasvig is seeking reelection is to continue his work on the questions surrounding the future of the Beltrami County Jail. “One of the big challenges (facing the county) is being forced to do something with our jail,” he added. “I would like to have some continuity, I would be able to know the history of where we’re at and be able to make the best decisions for our residents.” Gaasvig hopes to continue representing the constituents of District 1 for another term. “I just want to make a difference in representing my constituents,” he said. “I think I’ve been doing that, and I would like to continue to do that for another four years.”

University. He lives in Turtle River with his wife and children. “I’ve been around in campaigns a lot, and I’ve been involved with politics,” Morrissey said. “I’m familiar with the county board and I think it’s a really important role.” He was inspired to run for the District 1 seat after seeing the race was unopposed and decided he wanted to get involved and improve county governance. “Clear and transparent governance is important to me,” Morrissey said. “We want to let people know what we’re doing and hear from them and their concerns.” Morrissey has been a member of the county’s Parks and Trails Commission and has been involved in local political campaigns. He hopes to embody

some of his local heroes in politics, like former county commissioner Jim Heltzer and state representative Frank Moe. He also hopes to bring some change to the contentious messaging he feels the county board has engaged in and bring its focus back to local issues. “I want to counter some of those messages that have been sent out by our county board,” he said, “not making these last-minute zigzags or culture war things.” Listening to constituents and addressing their concerns would be the priority for Morrissey if elected, alongside fair and open governance. “In a nutshell that’s it, hearing from people and being fair and transparent,” he explained. “It’s important to me that we just govern with integrity.”

Mark Morrissey

Mark Morrissey is the assistant director of campus recreation and outdoor programming at Bemidji State

Craig Gaasvig ► Age: 54 ► Is a regional account manager at North Country Business ► Lifelong Beltrami County resident ► Earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a secondary teaching license from BSU

Craig Gaasvig 218-766-9699

for District #1 COMMISSIONER

Experienced • Consistent • Fair • Approachable

Mark Morrissey ► Age: 52 ► Is the assistant director for campus recreation and outdoor programming at BSU ► Has lived in the area for 24 years ► Holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from BSU

“Craig is very active as our association President and extremely helpful on getting everything done/finalized for the Cass Lake Fire Department to operate smoothly every year. I feel Craig will be a valuable asset and Great Commissioner!” -Ernie Robinson, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Fire Protection Coordinator • • • • • •

Common Sense Family Man Lifelong Resident of Beltrami County Answers Phone, Responds to Emails, Listens, and Follows Through Proven Leader Respected and Elected by Peers to Chair 4 boards and an Executive Board Member Rural Conservative Values

• • • • • •

Pro-2nd Amendment Supports Public Safety Fiscally Responsible Pro Individual Choice/Against Mandates Promotes more Childcare availability in our Community Experienced and Knowledgeable

Prepared and Paid for by the Gaasvig for Commissioner Campaign Committee 13375 Gull Lake Loop Rd. NE, Bemidji, MN 56601.


6 | OCTOBER 29, 2022



Gould, Heinonen to face off in race for District 2 BY NICOLE RONCHETTI

Lieu of Property Taxes),” he explained. Gould said he would also go after state bonding dollars to help pay for Joe Gould and Don Heinonen will infrastructure and other costs while face off to represent District 2 on the keeping the county taxes low. Beltrami County Board when the race As for how Gould would approach continues on Nov. 8 after both made it public safety, he emphasized that through the primary election on Aug. 9. creating a good relationship with the Gould and Heinonen were two of new sheriff and other law enforcement five candidates included in the primary agencies would be vital. and received the highest number of “I would want to create a positive votes, Gould with 456 — 52.47% of the relationship with the new sheriff, votes. While Heinonen received 173 — whoever that’s going to be, and be 19.91%. brought up to speed on the issues facing law enforcement,” he explained. Joe Gould Public safety also ties into another Joe Gould, 35, is a Bemidji State of his priorities, which is investing in University graduate and a sixth-grade children’s mental health throughout the teacher in the Cass Lake-Bena school county. district. Gould hopes that supporting children Gould hopes to approach the budget and families in distress on the front end with the goal of getting more state will help reduce calls to law enforcement funding directed to Beltrami County and create a safer and more supportive through being in regular contact with environment in the county. state representatives. Another topic he discussed was “I think our leaders in St. Paul need to working to retain and recruit county do a better job to support our counties employees, through improving pay and in terms of county aid and (Payment in other methods. The Bemidji Pioneer

“We need to be paying our county employees more and make sure that every office is filled to its capacity,” Gould said. “I think there’s certainly room for improvement there.”

Don Heinonen

Don Heinonen, 59, is a shop and fleet shop manager and a graduate of Northwest Technical College. He has been a resident of Bemidji for 38 years. Heinonen has been carefully considering how he would approach the county’s budget if elected. To help increase the funds available to the county, he would work to lobby the state and federal government for more local county aid. This includes taking a look at the formula used by the state government to portion that funding. “They need to reformulate that so they take into account the economics of a county as well,” Heinonen explained. “It’s a tough thing and tough sell, but I think it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to keep after.” He also noted the county’s tax levy, which he would like to keep as low as

possible. Public safety, Heinonen said, is one of his top priorities. He would work to coordinate with law enforcement agencies and try to improve access to mental health services and different support programs for those in the county jail or going through the criminal justice system. “I think we all need to work together, collaborate and pool those dollars so we can control crime,” he said. “I think the key is that you’ve got to try and find some more ways to make sure that everybody in the county feels safe.” Heinonen would also work to increase access to mental health services outside of the criminal justice system. The final topic Heinonen brought up was supporting and improving the county’s infrastructure. “I think we need to find and leverage some new ways to use county dollars to be able to fix our infrastructure,” he added. “We need to make sure that we’re looking at all of our infrastructures, whether that’s roads, bridges, parks or even county buildings.”

__________ELECT________ __________ELECT__________

Joe Gould ► Age: 35 ► Teaches social studies at Cass Lake-Bena High School ► Has lived in Bemidji for 7 years ► Holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education and a master’s in Public Administration from BSU


Don Heinonen

__________ELECT __________ELECT_________

► Age: 59 ► Is a shop fleet manager ► Has lived in Bemidji for 39 years ► Holds an automotive degree from NTC

DON DON ________________________ HEINON HEINONEN __________________________


________________ _________________________












OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 7


Anderson hopes to retain District 3 seat against Merschman BY NICOLE RONCHETTI The Bemidji Pioneer

Incumbent Richard Anderson is running against challenger Brian Merschman for the District 3 seat on the Beltrami County Board, as all five districts are up for election on Nov. 8 due to redistricting.

Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is a retired educator and has served on the Beltrami County Board since he was first elected in 2011, defeating Scott Winger 1,152960. His most recent reelection was in 2018 when he ran unopposed. “I’ve enjoyed representing the people that elect me,” Anderson said. “I always take the time to listen and return the phone calls of people who have needs or questions about county government.” Anderson has served on a number of committees for the board and has also been involved in the ongoing Beltrami County Jail feasibility study, something he hopes to continue if reelected. “We’re just getting into it, and I’d like to be on that to make sure we spend the money in a positive and responsible way,” he said. As a former township officer, Anderson also believes he has an understanding of the needs of smaller local governments.

“I was a township officer for close to 40 years, so I really do understand the needs of the townships,” he added. Anderson also discussed some of the different accomplishments done by the county board, including changing how the county offers its employees health insurance and improving access to specialized mental health care in Beltrami. “I like what I’m doing,” he said. “I really believe in county government.” Brian Merschman is a mechanic with Paul Bunyan Transit in Bemidji and has been a member of the Bemidji Township Board for well over a decade. “I’ve been on the Bemidji Township Board for many years, since 2005 if I remember correctly,” Merschman said. “I’ve been involved a lot with government, and I just wanted to move on a little bit further.” Merschman hopes to bring his experience from the township board and working with organizations like the Headwaters Regional Development Commission to the county board. “(I want to) be as successful at the county as I have been with Bemidji Township,” Merschman said. “Be involved with planning, and zoning and elections, pretty much everything that I do now.”

Beltrami County Commissioner District 3

Brian Merschman ► Age: 65 ► Is a mechanic with Paul Bunyan Transit ► Has lived in the area for 40 years ► Completed vocational school and some studies at BSU



COMMISSIONER for County Commissioner District 3

Trusted leader who will work for our County QUALIFICATIONS

I Respectfully Ask For Your Vote

Bemidji Township Supervisor Bemidji Township Chair Lifelong Resident of Beltrami County Over 40 years as co-owner of local family business

“I seek your support as I continue working for better roads, protection from crime, the sound use of tax payer’s money and the protection of our Northern Minnesota way of life. I will listen and respond to your needs.”

Experienced and Dedicated to Serve this Community

PROVEN TRACK RECORD OF COMMUNITY SERVICE • Bemidji Airport Authority • Board of Equalization and Adjustments (Bemidji Township) • Beltrami County Area of Township Organizations (BATO) • Certified Election Judge • Bemidji Rural Fire Association (BRFA) • Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) • Headwaters Housing Development Commission (HHDC)

► Age: 75 ► Is a retired educator ► Lifelong Beltrami County resident ► Holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from BSU and a master’s in Educational Administration from UMN Twin Cities

Brian Merschman

Vote for Brian Merschman

• • • •

Richard Anderson

Graduate of Bemidji State University with BS and Masters Degrees in elementary education. Graduate of University of Minnesota with an administrative degree.

Brian speaks with HONESTY, thinks with SINCERITY, and acts with INTEGRITY

Prepared and paid for by Brian Merschman. 407 Meadow Ct NE, Bemidji, MN 56601. 218-766-3171

• Teacher/Principal for 39 years - Retired as Bemidji High School Principal 2009. • Army Veteran - served 15 months in Vietnam • Town Board Officer - 39 years • Member of Beltrami County Area Service Collaborative • Retired volunteer fireman • Farms a 280 acre farm Prepared and paid for by Richard Anderson on his behalf 7278 Lammers Rd. NW, Solway MN 56678


8 | OCTOBER 29, 2022



Neft looks to unseat incumbent Sumner from District 4 position BY NICOLE RONCHETTI The Bemidji Pioneer

Current District 4 Beltrami County Commissioner Tim Sumner is running against newcomer Joseph Neft for a seat on the county board on Nov. 8, as all five districts are up for election due to redistricting.

Tim Sumner

Tim Sumner was first elected to the Beltrami County Board in 2012 and won his third term in 2020 after defeating challenger Danny Anderson 2,588 votes to 1,270. Sumner is a case manager at the Red Lake Homeless Shelter and studied at Northwest Technical College. “I love what I do working on the county board, I’ve always had that passion to want to help,” Sumner said. “Even after 10 years I still enjoy what I’m doing, meeting the people, working hard

for my constituents.” Sumner is seeking reelection in part to continue his work on the board’s many ongoing projects. “I’m running to see that a lot of these projects we’re currently working on are finished and followed through,” Sumner said. These projects include efforts to repair roads, improve mental health services, and decide the future of the county jail. “These issues are important,” Sumner said. “I believe at the end of the day, whether I win or lose, it’s important that we see every issue and see how we can move the county forward.”

Joseph Neft

Joseph Neft is a farmer and trucker from Shooks Township and has been a lifelong Beltrami County resident. Neft is also a member of the Shooks Township Board. “We’re starting to get a lot of

Tim Sumner

growling on taxes and property taxes,” Neft said. “It looks like we’ve got to do something to get a handle on where all this money is going to.” Neft hopes to take a look at the county budget and examine where the money is spent and how to do it more efficiently and effectively. “Sometimes you have to take a look at the big picture,” Neft said, “look at what the costs are, what are we doing here that’s costing so much money?” Neft is also interested in serving on the county board in the interest of his grandchildren and the younger generations’ future. “I’m starting to get a little concerned about my grandchildren’s future,” Neft said. “So maybe it’s time to step up to the plate and take a little more interest in what’s going on and see if we can’t make a difference.”

Joseph Neft ► Age: 38 ► Is a case manager at Red Lake Homeless Shelter ► Lifelong Beltrami County resident ► Graduated from Red Lake High School and completed some studies at NTC


► Age: 64 ► Is a farmer and trucker ► Lifelong Beltrami County resident ► Graduated from Kelliher High School and completed Farm Management program at NTC

John Carlson ► Age: 69 ► Is a retired accountant and insurance agent and former Minnesota state senator ► Has lived in the area for 51 years ► Holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from BSU

Sandy Hennum ► Age: 62 ► Is the executive director of Village of Hope and community development specialist at the HRDC ► Has lived in the area for 34 years ► Holds a bachelor’s in Community Health and Patient Education from Moorhead State University and a master’s in health care from the University of Phoenix

JOSEPH NEFT • Shooks Township Supervisor • Church Pastoral and Financial Council Member • Blackduck Co-op Board Member 10 Years • St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Cemetery Committee Member 36 Years • Self-Employed as a Dairy/ Beef Farmer 46 Years • Truck Driver 20 Years • Lifelong Member of Beltrami County



• Great Listener • Hard Working • Loves to Help Others • Happily Married to Sissy for 45 Years • 6 Children and their Spouses


Plans as a Commissioner: • Fiscal Responsibility for Beltrami County • Promote Family Values • Maintaining and Fixing County Roads • Promote Thriving Businesses Prepared and Paid for by Joseph Neft 32005 Alvwood Rd. NE, Blackduck, MN 56630.





John Carlson

John Carlson is a former Minnesota Senator who served from 2011 to 2013 representing Congressional District 4. Carlson is a Bemidji State University graduate who has lived in the city since 1971 with his family. He has worked as an accountant and insurance agent and is currently semi-retired. “I believe my understanding of how our state government works, my accounting background and my ability to build consensus will be valuable assets to our county board,” Carlson said. During his time as a senator, he helped pass 28 pieces of legislation and worked to build agreement and cooperation with other legislators. Carlson also hopes to bring his knowledge of finance to the commissioner’s seat to help ensure fiscal responsibility at the county level. “I have the time to devote my energies to making sure that our county practices sound fiscal policies,” he said. “How those needs are prioritized with limited resources will be the key to good governance.” Carlson remarked that the county was losing a financial watchdog following Jim Lucachick being redistricted out of his seat.

Sandy Hennum

Sandy Hennum is the executive director of Village of Hope, an emergency shelter for families in Bemidji. Hennum has lived in Bemidji for 32 years with her family and has two adult children. “Amazing people in Bemidji do such amazing work, and I just want to support that,” Hennum said. “I just know that by working together we can make Bemidji better for everybody.” Hennum has spent much of her life involved in service to the community. Along with her work at Village of Hope, Hennum is also a Rotary Club member and chair of the Rotary Ridgeway Neighborhood Initiative. “I’ve lived my life working toward collective impact,” Hennum said. “I have worked extensively with statewide organizations, advocacy groups and different legislative groups to bring more resources to this part of Greater Minnesota.” As the director of an emergency shelter, Hennum is passionate about housing and related issues and hopes to bring her experience working in those fields to the county board. “I really want to work on the housing supply and the mental health services,” Hennum said. “I just think I bring that experience and collaborative spirit to give some help to these issues that really make it hard sometimes for people to move forward.”

VOTE REPUBLICAN on or before Tuesday November 8, 2022

Sample Ballot

BELTRAMI COUNTY REPUBLICAN ENDORSED CANDIDATES Governor Dr. Scott Jensen Attorney General Jim Schultz Secretary of State Kim Crockett State Auditor Ryan Wilson U.S. Representative Dist. 8 Pete Stauber State Senate District 2 Steve Green Minnesota Representative Dist. 2B Matt Bliss Minnesota Representative Dist. 2A Matt Grossell

Make Minnesota Great! PAID ADVERTISEMENT -Prepared and paid for by the Beltrami County Republican Committee, PO Box1986, Bemidji, MN 56619. Not authorized by any candidate.


John Carlson and Sandy Hennum are facing off for the District 5 seat on Beltrami County Board as Jim Lucachick, the current District 5 commissioner, is no longer eligible to run for his seat following redistricting.

“As a county commissioner, I would be responsive to my constituents and be a good steward of the tax dollars collected,” Carlson said.

Remember To


Redistricting leads Carlson, Hennum to seek District 5 seat

OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 9


10 | OCTOBER 29, 2022



Captain Riggs, Chief Deputy Walton to face off in race for sheriff BY DALTYN LOFSTROM The Bemidji Pioneer

Jason Riggs and Jarrett Walton will face off for the position of Beltrami County Sheriff in the November general election after the two received the majority votes in the Aug. 9 primary. Riggs received 54.79% of the vote with 2,926 ballots cast in his favor, and Walton received 1,257 votes or 23.54%.

Jason Riggs

With more than 21 years of law enforcement experience, Jason Riggs currently acts as a captain with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office where he has worked for the past 18 years. He has also served as the commander of the Headwaters SWAT team since 2012. Riggs looks forward to forging stronger trust between law enforcement and community if elected as sheriff.

“Law enforcement needs to take back the community by becoming a part of it again,” Riggs said. “With the backlash from the George Floyd incident among other incidents in the country, we need to be seen as public servants again and go back to our traditional roots as peace officers.” Regarding a Jail Needs and Feasibility Study for the Beltrami County Jail Riggs anticipates the building of a new jail and offering better services for inmates. “The future population of the jail looks fairly staggering. The current footprint and internals of the jail would no longer satisfy its growth,” Riggs said. “I anticipate the need for a new facility operated with a much lower staffto-inmate ratio, providing better services medically and better services mental health-wise.” With public safety as his main priority, Riggs highlighted his readiness to

serve Beltrami County in a new capacity. “I look forward to talking with people about public safety,” Riggs added, “and the future of rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.”

Jarrett Walton

While Chief Deputy Jarrett Walton doesn’t consider himself a politician, he hopes his 25 years of law enforcement experience, 20 of which have been with the BCSO will land him the sheriff’s position on Nov. 8 after serving as chief deputy the past three years. Emphasizing a holistic approach when it comes to the well-being of prison inmates, Walton highlighted the need for more support for those afflicted by mental health and substance abuse issues while still holding them accountable for their actions. “We have to actively hold people accountable and provide them these services. They’re not bad people.

WALTON FOR SHERIFF 25 years of Law Enforcement experience and proven leadership (over 20 years with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office). “My experience has prepared me to be your next sheriff. I am asking for your trust and your vote. Thank you for your support.” •

Last 3.75 years as Chief Deputy overseeing all the divisions of the Sheriff’s Office (Patrol, Investigations, Boat & Water, Jail, Dispatch, Courts, Records and Civil) and developing and managing a 13.5 million dollar budget

5.75 years Investigative Sergeant, 1.25 years as a Patrol Sergeant, and 9.75 years as Field Training Coordinator

Member of the Beltrami County Budget Committee 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022

Northern Lights Task Force Chair of Communications/Technology Subcommittee (received an award from MN DPS recognizing my leadership)

Lead Jail Task Force Committee to address staffing levels in the jail. Staffing levels were at 45%, staffing levels are now 94%

Member Jail Project Steering and Finance Committee——Paid for by Walton for Sheriff Committee 22431 Williams Rd SE, Cass Lake, MN 56633

They make bad decisions or because of health or substance abuse issues,” Walton said. “Drugs drive a lot of criminal activity. We’re never going to stop the problem, but can deter people or reduce the demand. “Chemical dependency causes lots of collateral damage to families. If we can affect even 15-20% (of addicts) and make their personal lives better by tackling underlying issues, it’s a win for everyone in the process.” Having supervised all divisions of the sheriff’s office, Walton sees transparency as the link between law enforcement and the community, and the key to forging trust. “Being out there and partnering with the community, it’s to make the community healthier and safer,” Walton left off.

Jason Riggs ► Age: 49 ► Is a captain with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office where he’s worked for 18 years ► Has lived in the Bemidji area for 20 years ► Earned an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Hibbing Community College

Jarrett Walton ► Age: 48 ► Is the Chief Deputy with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office where he’s worked for 20 years ► Has lived in the Bemidji area for 20 years ► Earned an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice from Northland College and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from BSU

Jason Riggs For Beltrami County Sheriff Leadership • Integrity • Community I take great pride in Law Enforcement and its service to the citizens of Beltrami County. We deserve the very best from our area Law Enforcement and with your help we will continue to do just that. “Serve” Jason Riggs for Beltrami County Sheriff • 218-766-3284 Follow me on Facebook Jason Riggs for Beltrami County Sheriff Paid for by the Committee to Elect Jason Riggs • 15231 Jessie Court NW, Bemidji, MN 56601



OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 11


10 candidates running for 4-year school board positions BY DALTYN LOFSTROM The Bemidji Pioneer

There are 10 candidates running for three four-year positions for the Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education on Nov. 8, including two incumbents and eight newcomers. Incumbent Jeff Lind is not seeking reelection.

Carol L. Johnson

Incumbent Carol L. Johnson, 63, has served on the board since 2005 and has retired from 37 years at Ken. K. Thompson Jewelry. “I think we need to market Bemidji Area Schools showcasing our highly qualified staff and all of the opportunities offered to students from academics to athletics to the arts and everything in between,” Johnson said. “We need to ‘sing our own song.’” If reelected, Johnson wants to enhance positive relationships with all stakeholders in hopes of increasing

enrollment and supporting financial stability. “I want to continue to build on my 18 years of experience on the school board supporting students and staff,” she added. “I look forward to the future of our district under the leadership of our new Superintendent Jeremy Olson.”

Sarah Young

Incumbent Sarah Young, 51, has served on the board since 2019 and is an associate professor within TRIO Student Support Services at Bemidji State University. If reelected, Young wants to address enrollment, specifically by expanding preschool capacity. “Expanding preschool helps parents with childcare, starts children on their path toward graduating and establishes an early connection with (the district),” Young said. Regarding graduation rates, Young mentioned, “I also pledge to work

collaboratively with our dedicated teachers, staff and administration toward the ideal of 100% graduation rate. Together, we can do it.”

Ashley Brue

Ashley Brue, 37, is a software development engineer for the Minnesota State System of colleges and universities. Brue highlighted certain challenges surrounding the recruitment and retention of staff members throughout the district. “Passionate educators and staff drive Bemidji Area Schools and its students to thrive,” she said. “Over the past few years, Bemidji has struggled to find staff to fill vacant positions. If we want excellent staff in Bemidji Area Schools, we need to support a school environment that our existing staff are passionate about and that new staff are excited to join.”

Jenny Frenzel

Jenny Frenzel, 42, is a licensed preprimary and elementary teacher and a business owner.


“If elected to the board, I plan to work toward rebuilding trust and respect between the board, school staff and the community,” Frenzel said. Frenzel also detailed her concerns regarding the district’s budget and helping the public understand where money is being spent throughout the district. Focusing on students, Frenzel left off, “as a board member, I want to help ensure the best education possible is being provided to the students in (the district).”

Kerin Hanson

Kerin Hanson, 35, is a middle school science teacher at Heartland Christian Academy. “As a parent of students in the district, I have a vested interest in the current issues that have not been addressed that affect many students, not just my own,” Hanson said. “My main priority is straightening out the budget.


Nicole Jaranson • Health A student’s health should be guided by parents/guardians and not mandated by the school district. • Academic Excellence By setting our students up for the best education curriculum and opportunities to shape their future to be the best leaders. • Transparency To Bemidji students, parents/guardians, staff and community. Taxpayers’ dollars should be spent wisely and not frivolously. • Safety in Bemidji Public Schools so staff and students can show up ready to educate and learn in a safe environment free of fear.

Paid for by Nicole Jaranson • P.O. Box 1724 • Bemidji, MN 56619


Jenny Frenzel for Bemidji School Board As a school board member, I am prepared to participate. My main focus will be serving ALL children. Gaining trust and support from our community will be a goal, while not serving to a single constituency. I will honor divergent opinions and take them into consideration when making decisions that affect all taxpayers. As board members, we need to work together to obtain proper funding for our schools, while remaining transparent. I will continue supporting the improvement of our mental health needs, as well as working to retain teachers. The time is now to think upward and outward, not downward and inward. Time to leave the past in the past and move forward with a

“New Voice, New Vision and New Direction”. Check out for more information. Paid for by Jenny Frenzel 4451 Arvid Ct. NE, Wilton, MN 56601

Sarah Young VOTE

BEMIDJI SCHOOL BOARD I would appreciate your vote on or before November 8th!

Prepared and paid for by Sarah Young on her own behalf, 22104 510th St., Bemidji, MN 56601


12 | OCTOBER 29, 2022

SCHOOL BOARD From Page 11 “(This) will help us hire more staff to help our teachers, staff, and most importantly students, ensure we keep important programs related to literacy, art and music, and provide the materials to teachers that are needed in the classroom.” Hanson also wants to address bullying and figure out why families transfer out of the district.

Nicole Jaranson

Nicole Jaranson, 36, works in health care. “I have a personal interest in improving the quality of our schools as my children go to school in the Bemidji School District,” Jaranson said. “I believe we need quality public education for our children as they are our future.” Citing her interactions with staff, students and administration throughout the district, Jaranson added, “I feel we need to put the responsibility back to the parents. We also need to improve on discussion and communication with parents, teachers and the community.”

Meredith Kehoe

Meredith Kehoe, 73, is a recent retiree from the Bemidji Area School District where she taught for 50 years and also

teaches Academic American English for international students at Bemidji State University. Referencing challenges from the past couple of years, Kehoe stated, “I believe education has the opportunity to evolve and adapt to the current needs of students.” Kehoe’s main purpose for running for school board is to support students and added that, “every decision the board makes should be rooted on what is best for the kids.”

Anna Manecke

Anna Manecke, 38, is a registered nurse. “I am running for school board for all school kids including my three children, parents and guardians, the staff and the taxpayers of the Bemidji School District who need a new voice and listener,” Manecke said. Manecke emphasized her knowledge and ability to build integrity between the school district and the broader community. “I want to bring transparency and accountability from the school district to the community, academic excellence to increase performance and excel in achievement, (and) safety to the staff and students to carry out a stronger learning environment,” she left off.

Wesley Newell

The Pioneer was unable to reach Wesley Newell for comment.

Dave Wall

Dave Wall, 56, is a financial worker at Beltrami County Health and Human Services. In detailing his motivation for running for school board, Wall said it comes from a growing concern he has for the direction the country is headed in, which starts with the education of children. “I see that public education is being undermined and turning from objective learning that develops good


critical thinking skills, to a one-sided indoctrination that is based on feelings, fear and subversion of solid American values,” Wall stated. Wall detailed two action steps he would take if elected to the board. “One, seek to direct the school district from the administration, faculty, staff and students to focus their efforts to promoting the exceptionalism that America was founded on,” he detailed. “Two, ensure that school curriculum contributes to the development of students as contributing, moral and responsible citizens of these great United States.”


Anna Manecke • Academic Excellence to prepare our youth for their future • Safety for students and staff • Transparency from the board and administration to the community, parents/guardians and staff • Giving parents/guardians back the choice of health decisions to their own children

I am a graduate of Bemidji High School and I have 3 children who attend Bemidji Schools

Paid for by Anna Manecke • P.O. Box 1724 • Bemidji, MN 56619




OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 13


13 candidates seek 2-year positions on school board BY DALTYN LOFSTROM The Bemidji Pioneer

Jake Hemingway

Jake Hemingway, 40, works in finance and as A total of 13 candidates are vying for only two two- part of his priority list, year positions on the Bem- he explained that cutting wasteful spending and idji Area Schools Board of lowering taxes is just one Education on Nov. 8. of them. These positions will Stating his support for fulfill the remainder of the terms of former board a student and parent’s bill of rights, specifically elimmembers Jeff Haack inating future mandates and Gabriel Warren who regarding masks, vaccines, resigned in November 2021 and July 2022 respec- social distancing and lockdowns, he mentioned, “as tively. a father, I have seen firstBrian Dow hand the harm done to my The Pioneer was unable teen daughter from (the to reach Brian Dow for board’s) one size fits all comment. policies.” Hemingway also referGuy Drevlow enced curriculum issues Guy Drevlow, 46, is an that he wants to address. assistant manager and “Schools have become chief operating officer at little more than leftist Bemidji Cooperative Asso- indoctrination centers, ciation. with the goal of produc“I feel the district needs ing mindless automatons to be run more like a busi- that blindly obey, never ness and be fiscally respon- question authority and can sible for decisions that are only regurgitate the propamade as they move forganda talking points of the ward,” Drevlow said. “I see authoritarians,” he said. decisions being made with- “This must end.” out much thought being placed into that decision Justin Hoover such as land purchases and Justin Hoover, 44, is the other savings that could be owner of Blue Ox Storage. made.” “What motivates me to Drevlow detailed other run for school board is seepriorities including the use ing the need for parent’s of cleaner fuels in district voices to be heard and transportation, forging their desires to be upheld trust between the school by the elected school board and the public, and board,” Hoover said. “I more effective communica- would like to be a part of tion with district residents. helping our schools become

a safer, more welcoming environment for both teachers and students.” Stating his commitment to education, Hoover added, “we must work together when challenging times arise in order to provide the best education possible in the best environment possible. I would be honored to be a part of this process.”

Kimberly Jannson

Kimberly Jannson, 48, is a job counselor for the Leech Lake Nation. “As a mother to a bi-racial son and a community leader, I am confident that I’ll bring a positive impact on our school district and help provide opportunities for our staff and students,” Jannson said. Multicultural awareness among students and parents is one of Jannson’s main priorities should she be elected to the board. “I hope to represent equity and equality to our children’s education, and I am looking forward to bringing our community in to have these discussions,” she left off.

board as a leader, community member and mother that would unite all stakeholders of the district. “My top priority will be to make decisions that have a positive impact on all students, staff and facilities all while representing our community,” she detailed. “We must keep the education, safety and well-being of each student at the forefront of any decisions and policies.” Laitala also emphasized students’ equitable access to trade school opportunities, work-study programs with local businesses and support systems for students and teachers all while being financially responsible.

C.T. Marhula

C.T. Marhula is the chief executive officer of Moonlight Research and a member of the Bemidji Charter

Vote Julie Laitala Bemidji School Board I believe investing in our youth, teachers, and community is essential to a better future. I have the ability to listen, research and use my own experiences as a leader, community member, and mother to bring forth policies that will support and unite students, staff, faculties, parents, and residents of ISD 31. I feel I can bring a different perspective that is much needed in our community. I was adopted at 4 years old by Mary & Richard Chernugal and was taught the importance of community, empathy, and education from them! Prepared and paid for by Julie Laitala, 5117 Power Dam Road NE, Bemidji, MN 56601.

Michael Meehlhause

Michael Meehlhause, 33, is an academic advisor at TrekNorth High School. “I’m running for Bemidji School Board because I believe that strong public

schools equal strong communities,” Meehlhause said. “I understand the challenges students and teachers face in the classroom because I am an educator myself.” If elected, Meehlhause detailed his priorities of addressing teacher retention, managing the district’s budget and ensuring that student success and wellbeing are the primary focus during board decisions.

Daniel Nynas Daniel Nynas, 41, is a financial analyst for a credit union and a board member for the Bemidji Boys and Girls Club. “As a parent of two children attending (the district), I will work to ensure we deliver excellent education, programming and

2-YEAR: Page 14


Julie Laitala

Julie Laitala, 47, is a lead ophthalmic assistant at Sanford Health of Bemidji and the owner of Revolution MMA Fitness. Laitala hopes to bring a different perspective to the

Commission. Drawing on six years of being on the Grand Forks School Board, Marhula would like to aid in the transition that has come with new Superintendent Jeremy Olson. “My initial goals are quite simple: assist the new superintendent in establishing a great, trusting relationship with all stakeholders,” Marhula mentioned. He also detailed his aspirations of a 100% graduation rate, staff compensation discussions and increased reading proficiency for elementary students.

We must unite as a school district to support our students and staff.

ELECT Daniel Nynas


As a concerned parent, I am focused on strengthening our schools and youth services. I bring financial knowledge and experience, and I am committed to ensuring the district achieves its educational goals while keeping spending in line.



Ensure the safety of all youth and staff within the district.

I will work with others in a positive way, regardless of differences.

Improve communication and transparency between the district, parents and our community.

Ensure ISD #31 is run in a financially sound manner. Prepared and paid for by Daniel Nynas • PO Box 1143, Bemidji, MN 56601


14 | OCTOBER 29, 2022



Candidates Green, Roy contrast issues facing Senate District 2 BY MICHAEL ACHTERLING

Alan Roy ► DFL ► Age: 38 ► Lives in Ogema, Minn. ► Has a masters degree in public affairs from UMN ► Is an Army Reserve Company Commander

Steve Green ► Republican ► Age: 62 ► Lives in Fosston ► Has an Auto Body diploma from Detroit Lakes Area Vocational Technical Institute ► Is a self-employed businessman

2-YEAR From Page 13 support to every student with our available funding,” Nynas said. He highlighted his 18 years in banking and nonprofit work along with his master’s in business administration which he feels would provide the necessary expertise to navigate the district’s budget decisions. “If elected, I will respect and listen to everyone in our district regardless of differences, work to provide transparency and accountability, renew trust in district leadership, and unite our community to prioritize our students,” he left off.

Marie Claire Richey

Marie Claire Richey, 25, is a homeschool teacher of three children. With family members attending the district, prior volunteer experience and her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bemidji State University, Richey feels she can effectively serve on the board. “I would love to put my passion and skills to good use to serve the parents,

Detroit Lakes Tribune

A member of the White Earth Nation will represent Minnesota Senate District 2 in the state senate following the 2022 general election on Nov. 8, but, will it be Steve Green, the five-term Republican member of the Minnesota House, or Alan Roy, the former secretary-treasurer of the White Earth Nation? Both candidates said they believe in cleaning up the red tape at the state level and reining-in statewide agencies that can create obstacles to economic development and businesses in the district through regulations or rule-making. “The agencies have become the behind-the-scenes government and they’ve expanded their rule-making

children and teachers of (the district) and improve the safety, fiscal responsibility and transparency of the Bemidji School District,” Richey said.

Danielle Thorson

Danielle Thorson, 36, is a financial counselor at the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center. “As a current district parent, I decided to run for school board after two failed referendums, knowing the school board had serious and difficult choices to make,” Thorson said. “I am faced with difficult and time-sensitive situations daily in my career, and pride myself on finding creative solutions to these scenarios.” Stating her support for students, teachers, staff and the community, Thorson added, “I am committed to continuing the practice of inclusion and diversity within our school system to continue to empower, engage and support all persons in the district.”

Miriam White

Miriam White, 57, is an associate professor of education at Bemidji State

University. Expressing support for a referendum, White mentioned, “I understand that we need to pass a referendum in order to continue to have autonomy in our decision-making ability and will work to keep that in place.” White highlighted the different opportunities that are available to students throughout the district and wants to continue the focus on students. “I believe that Bemidji Schools have their core values focused on ‘students first’ and I want to help continue that mindset,” White left off.

Rebecca Whiting

Rebecca Whiting, 40, is a homeschool teacher and a small business owner. “I went to graduate school originally to be a teacher, but once I got into the school system I realized the limitations that the system had for the kids,” Whiting said. “Instead of allowing myself to be molded into what the school system wanted from teachers, I stepped out and immersed myself in homeschooling

authority beyond what I think it should be,” Green said, adding that one of the legislature’s purposes is to rein-in out of control government agencies. According to Roy, in some cases, businesses are being overregulated, which can slow growth and employment needs. “There’s too much red tape,” he said. “We’ll take that on a case-bycase basis, but I want to sit down with the business owners ... to see what areas we can work on. With me, it’s got to be feasible and it’s got to be pragmatic.” The candidates also shared what their main policy concerns were and how they would address them. “We’ve got public safety and the issue with parental rights,” said Green. “The parental rights issue has

and walked away from the career I wanted.” Whiting credits her experiences with homeschooling and public school systems for her

to be done in a way that allows the local school boards to make their decisions.” He said the curriculum standards coming from the state should be academic and focused on reading, writing, math and science, and any other social issues could be handled within the home. Green also said addressing public safety will be a lot harder because of law enforcement staffing shortages affecting communities across the state. Roy said he believes furthering the economic development in the district’s area of the state would be a leading priority if elected. “At the state level legislatively ... to incentivize businesses to invest

perspective on what the school district needs. “Those challenges are still there, but I am now at a place in life where I feel that I could make a

SENATE: Page 15 positive impact where the entire community could benefit in overcoming challenges that require out-of-the-box thinkers,” she added.

Vote State Senate • SUPPORTING PUBLIC SAFETY • PRO-LIFE • SUPPORTING LAW ENFORCEMENT • PRO 2ND AMENDMENT I stood with a coalition of Republicans and Minnesota citizens to defeat a Democratic led assault on our arms. right to keep and bear arms


Visit stevegreen:fosteve@

STEVE TEFOR DISTRICT GREEN 2 STATE SENATOR Paid Advertisement. Prepared & paid for by Steve Green for Senate Committee 2445 102nd Street, Fosston, MN 56542



OCTOBER 29, 2022 | 15


Olson to challenge Grossell in House 2A race BY NICOLE RONCHETTI

desperate need. “Both of these are economic development tools,” Olson said, noting Beltrami County Commissioner that housing and child care are ways Reed Olson will be the Democraticto boost the economy and address the Farmer-Labor challenger facing ongoing worker shortage. “It’s hard incumbent Matt Grossell for the to get businesses to relocate here or Minnesota House 2A seat on Nov. 8. existing businesses to expand if there isn’t enough workforce housing or Reed Olson daycare for their employees.” Reed Olson, a current Beltrami Olson shared that supporting local County Commissioner, is the executive director of the Nameless Coalition for businesses and providing a productive environment for them would be the Homeless, and also the owner of another focus. the Wild Hare Bistro in Bemidji. “I’ve had a small business for 17 “I’ve been in local politics for years now, so I’m very attuned to about a decade,” Olson shared. “I’m the challenges they face,” Olson said. hopeful that my background in local “(We need) to make sure that small government will make me a more effective policy maker and legislator at businesses have a healthy market that they can thrive in.” the state level.” He emphasized his continuous work He added that much of the state’s legislation and action hits the ground in the community. “I have a track record of working at the county level, and believes his work with the Beltrami County Board really hard in our community and will provide unique insight into what getting things done,” Olson said. “I’ve policies are most effective. been working on local issues for over “(As county commissioners) a decade now, and I want to continue we’re able to see that maybe a wellto work for the district and the good intended policy at the state level just people of North-Central Minnesota.” doesn’t really do what it’s supposed Matt Grossell to when it hits the county or the Matt Grossell, a Republican, was municipality,” Olson said. “I’m hopeful first elected to the 2A seat in 2016 that I’ll be able to craft policy that’s and is seeking a fourth term. He is a more receptive to the needs of rural retired law enforcement officer and a Minnesota. “ former member of the U.S. Navy. Creating more housing in northern “I want to continue to make our Minnesota would be one of Olson’s district a better and safer place for primary focuses if elected. people to come and work and live,” “I want to build more housing, Grossell said. “I’ve been serving this first and foremost,” Olson said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to figure out district in one form or another since some policies that will help us increase I was 18 years old — in the military, in law enforcement and now in the housing in rural Minnesota.” capacity of a legislator.” Olson also would work to increase He emphasized an economic child care capacity in the region, something he noted was another focus for his campaign, highlighting The Bemidji Pioneer

how inflation has impacted people throughout Minnesota. “We’ve got to get inflation under control, and we’re not going to do that by continuing to spend money in the wrong places and in the wrong ways,” Grossell explained. Besides proposing tax cuts, including eliminating the social security tax, he also noted the need for people to return to work and boost the economy. He also noted his support of trade industries, such as mining and logging, as well as the construction of pipelines. Grossell highlighted that he aims to represent everyone in the district and continue his work to ensure that northern Minnesota is a safe and thriving place to live. “I am here to be a voice for everybody in the district,” he shared. “We’re not always going to agree, but I want to continue to work hard and continue to keep our families safe and our small businesses and communities thriving.”

Reed Olson ► DFL ► Age: 46 ► Is a current Beltrami County Commissioner, executive director of the Nameless Coalition for the Homeless and owns the Wild Hare Bistro ► Lives in Bemidji, has been in the area for 18 years ► Has a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Wisconsin Madison

Matthew Grossell ► Republican ► Age: 57 ► Is a retired law enforcement officer and U.S. Navy veteran ► Lives in Clearbrook ► Has a law enforcement certificate from Hibbing Community College and associate’s degree from Itasca Community College



SENATE From Page 14 in rural Minnesota we’ve got to take a look at some of these tax rates that our business owners and some of our folks are being hit with up here because I get a lot of complaints about that,” Roy said. In general, he said, Minnesota needs to look at a systemic rethinking of its tax rate structure to

eliminate continued surpluses and put that money back in the pockets of Minnesotans. He also said he wants to focus on farming and agriculture. “I think a lot of our farmers in northern Minnesota have been forgotten about in terms of making sure that they are receiving

the support that they need,” Roy detailed. “I know there was a long delay on the drought relief and that hurt our farmers up here.” Both candidates said they appreciated the issues-based campaign currently being run in district 2 and hope every voter in the district exercises their right to vote on Nov. 8.

• Committed to a collaborative, bipartisan approach • Member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe • Respected, independent thinker who works well with others to get things done Prepared and Paid for by the Committee to Elect Erika Bailey-Johnson. PO Box 221, Bemidji, MN 56619.


16 | OCTOBER 29, 2022



Rep. Bliss faces off against Bailey-Johnson for House 2B seat BY NICOLE RONCHETTI The Bemidji Pioneer

Republican Matt Bliss is facing off against Democratic-Farmer-Labor party challenger Erika Bailey-Johnson for the Minnesota House 2B seat in the Nov. 8 general election.

Matt Bliss

Matt Bliss is the current representative for Minnesota House Seat 5A, but is running for 2B following redistricting. He is running for a third term and is a small business owner. He hopes to continue the work he’s been involved in at the legislature, including tax cuts, bills supporting law enforcement and mining projects. Improving the economy will be one of his initial focuses in the legislature, particularly in light of inflation and rising fuel prices. His main strategy to address this relates to supporting fossil fuels. “We need to stop (financially supporting) companies who

don’t invest in oil companies because they disagree with the carbon emissions,” Bliss said. “They’re using it as a political tool and that needs to stop. That will help lower the cost of oil.” Although he emphasized that he is not against clean energy and supports projects that work toward reducing carbon emissions — just not to the detriment of the economy. Bliss also plans to focus on public safety by supporting law enforcement agencies and getting them the support they need. “We need to fund our police and work with our local municipalities on ways to retain their officers,” he explained. “We also have to improve the whole way police are treated in our communities.” Ultimately Bliss emphasized his past work as a legislator, and that he is not a career politician. “I’m running for my third term, but I’m not a career politician,” Bliss said. “I’m a very effective legislator and I’m responsive to the community.”

Erika Bailey-Johnson

“I think we need to really be focusing on becoming more Erika Bailey-Johnson is the sustainable communities,” she Sustainability Director at Bemexplained. “To me, that means idji State and an enrolled memsupporting local businesses and ber of Red Lake Nation. local agriculture.” If elected, one of the biggest In addition to this, she also focuses for Bailey-Johnson would be education, making sure discussed the need to lessen society’s dependence on fossil it’s supported and that rural fuels. school districts like the ones “We have to consider all of in northern Minnesota get the the full costs of everything, funding they need. from production and extraction “We need to really examine of raw materials,” she detailed. what is happening in schools and if it’s still relevant, and how “Not just the immediate finanwe raise good citizens,” she said. cial impacts, but the long-term financial impacts on ourselves Bailey-Johnson believes and future generations.” she has one solution to make She believes her experience funding more equitable for and track record of finding rural school districts, namely solutions to complex issues with changing the transportation different groups of people have funding formula to account for prepared her for working in the the distance that students have legislature and emphasized that to travel. This change would she would not approach things benefit geographically larger in a partisan manner. districts like those in northern “I really believe in the value of Minnesota. pulling all the different people She also hopes to boost the economy by supporting sustain- together to get work done,” she said. ability efforts and clean energy.

Matthew Bliss ► Republican ► Age: 58 ► Works in information technology, is the owner of Bliss Point Resort and is a U.S. Navy veteran ► Lives in Pennington ► Studied auto mechanics at a technical college and electronics and communications while in the military

Erika Bailey-Johnson ► DFL ► Age: 47 ► Is the Sustainability Director at BSU ► Lives in rural Bemidji ► Has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from UMN Morris and a master’s in Environmental Studies from BSU

A Strong Leader With Results

Defending Northern Minnesota Values Supports Law Enforcement U.S. Navy Veteran Pro Life Supports 2nd Amendment Small Business Owner PAID ADVERTISEMENT: Prepared and paid for by Matt Bliss for House 2022 on his own behalf. • •