Five will duke it out for Mayor of Bonanzaville
The Cass County Historical Society is electing their second Honorary Mayor of Bonanzaville soon. The CCHS has confirmed five candidates to run for the 2014 Mayoral Election Fundraiser: Incumbent Jay Thomas, Greg Mastrud, Rebecca Lebak, Scott Hennen and Dave Jacobs.
The candidates will compete to raise the most “votes” during a four-week election fundraising campaign. Each vote is equivalent to $1 and there is no limit on the number of bought votes.
To vote, visit www.bonanzaville.org, Bonanzaville’s on-site polling place, or mail a ballot to Bonanzaville at 1351 W Main Ave West Fargo, ND 58078. The polls open on April 1 and will close at 8:30 p.m. on May 1.
Thomas, the host of WDAY AM 970’s “Jay Thomas Show,” was elected mayor of Bonanzaville last year, and is hoping to be a two-term politician.
“I’m a West Fargo resident, and I’m the incumbent,” Thomas said. “Look how much Bonanzaville has grown in my time as mayor.”
Thomas lives in town with his wife, Alex, and they have been married for 18 years. He has two sons: Derrek, an infantryman in the U.S. Army, and Ty, who lives in West Fargo and works at Titan Machinery.
If re-elected, Thomas vows to keep Bonanzaville “in the 19th century,” and hopes this fundraiser will direct more attention to the town.
“I think it is absolutely fantastic,” Thomas said. “What a brilliant idea. This fundraiser gets people involved and gets them talking about Bonanzaville. They are going to go to the website and not just vote, but look at everything that place has to offer, and hopefully convince them to come out sometime.”
Jacobs is a co-host of the “Fox Morning Show with Robbie and Dave” on KPFX Classic Rock 107.9 The Fox, and has always admired Bonanzaville and the history lessons it can provide.
“I seriously consider Bonanzaville to be a gem of the Red River Valley,” Jacobs said. “It is living history right in our back yard. Who doesn’t love that?”
Jacobs lives in Leonard with his wife of 20 years, Margie. They have three children: Anthony (who gave him his first grandchild, Paisley), Chealsey and Nicole.
While he jokingly referred to his fellow candidates as a “bunch of jerks that want to turn it into a 24-hour laundromat,” Jacobs ultimately hopes that people will vote for any of the five and generate more interest in Bonanzaville.
“(The fundraiser) is a great way to reload the coffers at Bonanzaville with badly needed funding, and at the same time give her the attention she richly deserves,” Jacobs said. “This place rocks, and people need to see that for themselves. You can praise and extol the virtues of Bonanzaville all day, and that’s all fine and dandy, but when’s the last time you went and actually brought the family? It’s a great way to spend the afternoon with kids and get educated without even realizing it.”
Lebak is an anchor at WDAY, currently living in Fargo. The 22-year-old Bismarck native is running for mayor as a means of being more active in her community, and believes she can provide a different look for Bonanzaville that her fellow candidates cannot.
“Anything I can do to get involved is phenomenal for me,” Lebak said. “I think I can bring a fun energy to Bonanzaville. I’m young, I’m upbeat and I am the only female candidate running, so power to the women.”
Having spent a lot of time at a local museum – where her grandmother worked – Lebak understands what it takes to be a part of a place like Bonanzaville, and hopes she can help the Red River Valley understand that as well.
“I would give as much as I can to this place,” Lebak said. “I would love to talk to the public about it, too. I know the importance of where you came from and embracing that knowledge. I think this fundraiser is a great idea, and I wish more organizations would think of something like this. It is a great cause, and I think all of candidates are having fun with it. It is a friendly competition, but deep down, we all want to win.”
Mastrud serves as the West Fargo president of First International Bank & Trust, and finished second in last year’s mayoral election.
“I’m a big supporter of Bonanzaville and a big supporter of the community, and I would really like to continue that support in this role,” Mastrud said. “The big thing for me is the history of Bonanzaville and how important it is, as well as the importance of its future.”
He currently lives in West Fargo with his wife, Janet, and two children, Michaela, 10, and Carter, 8.
If elected, Mastrud hopes to preserve the things that make the village great.
“I think it is a terrific fundraiser,” Mastrud said. “It is a great way to keep at the top of the mind the historical importance of Bonanzaville and what it means to the area.”
Hennen is a radio talk show host and owner of AM 1100 The Flag. He lives in Fargo with his three children, Alex, 17, Hannah, 14, and Haley, 10.
Like his fellow candidates, Hennen also sees the need for the preservation of Bonanzaville.
“It represents the best of North Dakota: our heritage,” Hennen said. “As fast as we are growing, it’s vital that we remember where we came from and the character of the pioneers who blazed the trails ahead of us.”
As mayor of Bonanzaville, Hennen hopes to garner attention for the village using the airwaves.
“Having the most listened to radio show in North Dakota on five different radio stations, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to talk to folks from every corner of North Dakota every day,” Hennen said. “If elected Mayor, I will be able to tell the Bonanzaville story to thousands of potential visitors to this great attraction.”
Hennen also hopes to direct attention to the people who work to maintain the village.
“I love the tenacity of the tireless staff, board members and loyal supporters of Bonanzaville,” Hennen said. “Just like the people who lived and worked in these places of history decades ago, there is a hearty spirit alive and well here.”
A fundraising dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 1 at the Bonanzaville Event Center, served by Minnesota State University Moorhead Catering by Sodexo, with entertainment provided. The candidates will share their platforms with a live voting election finale following the dinner. For dinner tickets or more information on the 2014 Mayoral Election Campaign, call 282-2822 or email to email@example.com. All proceeds of the dinner will go towards the Cass County Historical Society.
Bonanzaville is a pioneer village and museum operated by the Cass County Historical Society, with a mission to collect, display and interpret artifacts relevant to the history and cultural heritage of the Red River Valley. It is North Dakota’s must-see historical attraction with 12 acres, 43 historic buildings, and more than 400,000 artifacts.
For more information on Bonanzaville and any upcoming events, to volunteer, or to plan a special event on site, please contact Emily Wehlander at 282-2822 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.