ST. CLOUD — School referendums and incumbents saw mixed levels of support Tuesday as area voters went to the polls to vote on funding requests and to winnow down candidates in local races.
Eight candidates filed to run for St. Cloud school board this year; the primary cut the list to six candidates who will vie for three seats in November. People could vote for three candidates.
Incumbents Zachary Dorholt (18.6%) and Natalie Ringsmuth (15%) received the highest number of votes Tuesday. Les Green did not file to run for another term.
Joining Dorholt and Ringsmuth on the November ballot will be Mike Bueckers (14.6%), Nicole Rierson (12.7%), Theresa Carlstedt (11.4%) and Heather Weems (10.2%). The two candidates cut from the race were Bashir Omer (9.2%) and Chantal Oechsle (8.3%).
Bueckers, Rierson and Carlstedt are supported by a conservative group called the Central Minnesota Freedom Advocates, who endorsed the trio as a slate to fill the three open spots. Weems is the former athletic director at St. Cloud State.
The three elected in November will join Scott Andreasen, Al Dahlgren, Shannon Haws and Monica Segura-Schwartz on the board.
In the city of St. Cloud, all four ward seats are up for election this year. Only Ward 2 required a primary to narrow the candidates from three to two. In that race, incumbent Steve Laraway did not file for re-election.
In the Ward 2 primary, Karen Larson earned 43% of the vote with 638 votes. Only three votes separate candidates Sandra Brakstad (432 votes) and Seal Dwyer (429 votes), meaning the city will hold a recount. St. Cloud City Clerk Seth Kauffman said more information on the recount will be available at the Friday canvassing meeting.
Dave Masters (incumbent) is the only candidate for Ward 1. Jake Anderson and incumbent Paul Brandmire are running for Ward 3 and incumbent Mike Conway and Hassan Yussuf are running for Ward 4.
In the race for Benton County auditor/treasurer, incumbent Nadean Inman — who recently agreed to drop out of the race after settling a lawsuit with the county that challenged her residency — earned the fewest votes in the primary (15%). Also cut from the November ballot was Heather Bondhus (24.9%). The two candidates who will vie for the seat in November are Sean Gitch (31.5%) and Christine Scherbing (28.6%).
School referendums saw split support in the area.
Kimball voters approved one of two questions on a referendum — approving $8 million for secure entrances and other upgrades but voting down another $2 million for a parking lot and playground. And Albany voters approved a $17 million referendum to renovate a former hospital site for an early learning center.
But Melrose voters voted down a $30 million referendum to renovate education space. And Rocori voters resoundingly voted down two questions — with about 79% voting no on both questions — as part of a $72 million referendum for safety, technology and learning space upgrades.
Vote totals are unofficial until canvassed by local elected bodies.