by Mike Knaak
A special election that will decide which party controls the Minnesota State Senate and a wide-open race for Stearns County sheriff are key races for Sartell and St. Stephen voters in the Nov. 6 general election.
In the Senate race, Republican Jeff Howe and Democrat Joe Perske are competing for the District 13 seat vacated by longtime Sen. Michelle Fischbach. Senate District 13 includes Sartell, St. Joseph, Sauk Rapids, Cold Spring, Kimball and Paynesville areas. The winner will serve a two-year term.
For the first time in 16 years, Stearns County residents will elect a new sheriff. Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud and Stearns County Sgt. Steve Soyka are running for that office. The sheriff will serve a four-year term.
In House District 13B, Republican incumbent Tim O’Driscoll is being challenged by Democrat Heidi Everett. District 13B includes Sartell, St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids and Holdingford.
Sartell residents will elect a new mayor because incumbent Sarah Jane Nicoll is not seeking re-election. Current City Council members Ryan Fitzthum and David Peterson are running for mayor to serve a four-year term.
Four people are running for two four-year terms on the City Council. The candidates are Brady Andel, Barika Davis, Timothy Elness and Jeff Kolb.
For more stories about the candidates and issues, go to our website. You’ll find all the stories we’ve published this year at www.thenewsleaders.com/category/election.
Minnesotans will elect a new governor to replace two-term incumbent Mark Dayton. Republican Jeff Johnson, who lost to Dayton in 2014, and Democrat Tim Walz, who represents the First District in the U.S. House of Representatives, are seeking the governor’s office. Minor party candidates Chris Wright and Josh Welter are also on the ballot.
Democrat Keith Ellison, who currently represents the Fifth District in the U.S. House, and Republican Doug Wardlow, a former state legislator, are running for attorney general, a job currently held by Lori Swanson who is not seeking re-election.
Incumbent Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican John Howe and Independence Party candidate William Denney.
There’s a four-way race for State Auditor. Republican Pam Myhra, Democrat Julie Blaha, Legal Marijuana Now candidate Michael Ford and Libertarian Chris Dock are running.
The statewide candidates serve four-year terms.
There are races for both U.S. Senate seats held by Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.
Klobuchar’s opponents are Republican Jim Newberger, Legal Marijuana Now candidate Dennis Schuller and Green Party candidate Paula Overby.
Smith, who was Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, was appointed to replace Al Franken when he resigned last year. The special election will fill out the last two years of Franken’s six-year term. Smith’s challengers are Republican Karin Housley, Legal Marijuana Now candidate Sarah Wellington and Jerry Trooien, who is running without party affiliation.
In the Sixth Congressional District, Republican Tom Emmer is seeking a third two-year term. His Democratic challenger is first-time candidate Ian Todd of Sauk Rapids.
The other contested Stearns County race is for Auditor-Treasurer. Incumbent Randy Schreifels is being challenged by John William Beuning. County Attorney Janelle Kendall is running unopposed.
Voters in east Sartell, who are residents of Benton County, will find a race for District 3 County Commissioner. Bonnita Bernhardt and Steven Heinen are running to replace incumbent Jim McMahon, who is not seeking re-election.
Sheriff Troy Heck, County Attorney Phillip Miller and Auditor-Treasurer Nadean Inman are running unopposed.
There won’t be many changes at St. Stephen City Hall. Mayor Jeff Blenkush is running unopposed for a two-year term. Gene Skaj and Danita Traut are running for two four-year council seats and Stephen J. Trobec is the only candidate in a two-year council special election. All the candidates are incumbents.
Five people are running for three seats on the Sartell-St. Stephen school board. Incumbents Patrick Marushin and Jeremy Snoberger are joined on the ballot by Amanda Byrd, Taryn Gentile and Melinda Vonderahe.
The school district is also asking voters to approve a levy to fund operations, education programming and technology. The district has prepared a website with detailed plans at http://www.sartell.k12.mn.us/2018levyforlearning
Other races on the ballot include the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and District Court Judges. and soil-and-water conservation supervisors.
Before Election Day, Nov. 6, Stearns County residents can vote in person through Nov. 5 at three locations: Stearns County Administration Center, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud; Stearns County Service Center, 3301 CR 138, Waite Park; and Melrose Area Community Service Center, 114 First Ave. SW, Melrose. The offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, and until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5.
To find your polling place, view a sample ballot and find answers to other election questions, go to mnvotes.org or contact the Stearns County Auditor-Treasurer’s office at 320-656-3920, or email email@example.com.