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School board to fill five spots in July

The West Fargo School Board hopes to know who the four new members will be and it could decide on a fifth member by its June 23 meeting.

School board members will help recount the June 10 election ballots after a recount was automatically triggered when the ballots were canvassed Monday and three candidates were found to be separated by nine votes.

The current board will also soon decide if it will hand over the seat of President Kay Kiefer to the fifth vote-getter in the election or if it will appoint one of the three candidates who chose not to seek re-election this year.

At a special meeting Monday, board member Karen Nitzkorski said she has lobbied Dave Olson to stay on the board another two years, the remainder of Kiefer’s term. Kiefer is moving out of state with her family.

“I think it’s very helpful to a board to have experience mixed with fresh ideas,” Nitzkorski said.

Nitzkorksi, Olson and Judy Kvaale did not file for re-election this year.

Olson said he is considering the idea but will have to discuss it with his family.

“I also don’t want us to disrespect the candidates that are in a tight race, because they all ran,” Olson said.

Six candidates were vying for four seats in the June 10 election. Kara Stack and Jon Erickson received the most votes, followed by Shauna Vistad, Allan Skramstad – the only incumbent in the race – and Dan Schaeffer. Patricia Moulton rounded out the field.

The Cass County Canvassing Board counted the votes Monday, finding that totals were off from the initial reports by just one vote.

School district Business Manager Mark Lemer said Vistad received a total of 1,385 votes, Skramstad received 1,382 and Schaeffer received 1,376 total votes, one more vote than initially reported.

Because the difference is only nine votes between the three, which is less than a half percent, a recount between the three candidates is automatically mandated by state law.

Lemer said it is the first automatic recount the school district has been a part of. The cost of the recount will be paid for by the school district.

At the time of the recount, all ballots will be inspected and each candidate and/or their representative will have a chance to inspect and dispute votes.

As of press time, a date for the recount had not been set, but it was expected before Monday.

School board members will then serve as the recount committee and have the final approval of the recount. Because Skramstad is a candidate, he will not be a part of the committee.

Superintendent David Flowers said the board has a third option to fill Kiefer’s seat, which would be to petition the public for applications.

School board members serve a four-year, at-large term and are paid a salary of $4,730 per year. Seven members serve on the West Fargo board.

In other election news:

  • Ken Zetocha, who served two four-year terms before losing a 2010 bid for a third term, received 164 write-in votes on June 10, more than his closest challenger, Chris Heise, who received 108 votes. 
  • Denise Johnson, who chose not to file for re-election this year, received 68 votes. 
  • The two incumbent candidates, Sharon Odegaard and Jeff McCraken, were re-elected to their posts. 
  • The City Council composition will not change after incumbents Mark Wentz and Duane Hanson won the two open seats over challenger Brad Olson. 
  • Olson received 28 percent of the vote while Wentz came out on top with 37 percent of the vote and Hanson 35 percent. 
  • Commissioners serve a four-year term and are paid an annual salary of $7,688. 
Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and and at CBS Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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