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Candidates vie for variety of June 12 election posts

Candidates are vying for a number of positions in the Primary Election set for Tuesday, June 12.

In West Fargo, Harwood, Horace and Reiles Acres a number of positions are up for grabs -- Mayor, City Commission and City Council seats, along with park board and school board positions, all four-year terms.

Also included on ballot for these communities will be whether the entities should publish the minutes of governing bodies for the next four years in the official city newspaper, which for these jurisdictions is the West Fargo Pioneer.

Incumbents Mark Simmons and Mike Thorstad are running for re-election to the West Fargo City Commission for the two open seats, with Peter Karl the lone challenger. Simmons is seeking a third term and Thorstad a second term.

Thorstad and Karl made unsuccessful bids in the 2010 West Fargo mayoral race.

Karl has a past criminal record and is required to register as a low risk sex offender until Dec. 8, 2018. He officially registered in West Fargo in July of 2007 and has been in compliance with the registration requirements while living in the city of West Fargo.

In the West Fargo Park Board race, incumbents Todd Rheault and Kathy Scully are seeking the two open positions, with former Park Board member Kenneth Zetocha also tossing his hat into the ring again.

Vying for the three seats open on the West Fargo School Board are incumbents Kay Kiefer and Patti Stedman and challengers Gail Flom, Shelley Treib and Jeff Shirley, who had previously served.

Other races in surrounding communities include:

Harwood, Mayor - Bill Rohrich (incumbent) and Brad Hansen; two City Council seats, Ron Mack, Jennifer Spiesz and Lori Peyerl; two park board seats, Sara Hilde and Peter Meyer, both incumbents.

Horace, Mayor - Shane Walock (incumbent) and Robyn Sorum; two city council seats, Sharon Hochhalter, Grant Allex, Laura Cullen, Robert Hoffman; and three park board seats, Chad Urness and Wade Frank.

Reiles Acres: Two incumbents are seeking to return to their seats. Steve Winterquist is running for one of two City Council positions and Jefferson Bey is running for Mayor.

Cass County Commission positions are also open with candidates required to live in the district they represent. They are elected by a county wide vote, with one chosen from each district to serve a four-year term.

Running for Commissioners are: District 1 (north Fargo): Frank Anderson, Billy Nustad, Chad Peterson, Rocky Schneider, and Steven Sprague; District 3 (south Fargo): incumbent Ken Pawluk; and District 5 (Cass County, outside of Fargo and West Fargo): Mike Bice, Hickson, Earl Erdmann, Alice, Craig Hakanson, Horace, Marty Johnson, Horace, Brandy Pyle, Casselton, Mary Scherling, Fargo, and Mark Weston, Fargo.

The District 5 slate is the largest comprised of many longtime local residents, including Hakanson and Johnson, both from Horace.

Hakanson already serves as a city council member and is seeking the county commission seat left open by the stepping down of Robyn Sorum, who had reached her term limit. A West Fargo High School graduate, Hakanson has been involved with parents in Brokerage Printing for the past 26 years.

He is seeking election because he believes his strong conservative values could lead to a stronger county which will go a long way in improving the quality of life in Cass County. He would also like to have a voice in dealing with difficult situations the county will be facing, citing water as a major ongoing topic not only with the Diversion and flooding but also considering Devils Lake and how that is all going to come into play.

Johnson lives on his great grandfather's farmstead south of Horace, which has been in his family for 120 years.

He said he is running for a county commission seat is because he feels there hasn't been a rural voice on the commission for some time, and wants to be a spokesperson for all of Cass County; not just a small part of it. With his rural background, common-sense problem solving and my hard work ethic, he feels he would be an excellent fit.

In the North Dakota Legislative race each district has two House seats and a Senate seat. Even numbered districts have elections this year. Odd numbered districts will have elections in two years. The main vote-getters in the primary from each party for each seat will advance to the general election in November where they will be elected by and for their specified districts for four-year terms.

District 16 is one of North Dakota's newest districts that represents parts of West Fargo and Fargo.

Among those candidates seeking the House seat in the newly formed district is Ben Koppelman, West Fargo resident and current School Board president until the end of his term this summer. He has served since 2008 and is also a member of the North Dakota State Electrical Board.

Koppelman is a homebuilder and been involved in the construction industry for 11 years. He said he is running for election to the House seat because he wants to be a part of the continued growth and prosperity, and give the community greater representation in the legislature by helping build on the success that is being enjoyed.

Other candidates include: District 16 Senate: Tyler Axness (D), David Duff (R); District 16 House: Ben Koppelman (R), Mike Puppe (R), Ben Hanson (D) and Mike Lindemann (D); District 22 Senate (Rural Cass County, including Casselton): Jessica Arneson (D), incumbent Gary A. Lee (R); District 22 House: incumbent Wesley R. Belter (R), Allan Peterson (D), and Peter F. Silbernagel (R); District 44 Senate (central north Fargo): incumbent Tim Flakoll (R), Rick Olek (D); District 44 House: Joshua A. Boschee, incumbent Donald Clark (R), Bob Jansen (D), incumbent Blair Thoreson (R); District 46 Senate (far South Fargo): Jim Roers (R), George Sinner (D); District 46 House incumbents Kathy Hawken (R) and Jim Kasper (R) and challengers Lee Myxter (D) and Diane Hill (D).

In West Fargo, voting precincts are: 13-01, Westside Elementary School, 945 7th Ave. W.; 13-02, West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E.; 13-03, Veterans Memorial Arena, 1201 7th Ave. E.; 22-06, Shiloh Evangelical Free Church, 2200 Shiloh St.; 16-01, Meadow Ridge Bible Chapel, 2198 2nd Ave. E.; and 16-02, Holy Cross Church, 1420 16th St. E.

Voters in both Harwood and Reiles Acres will cast their ballots at the Harwood City Hall, 108 Main St., while the polling site in Horace is the Horace Senior Center, 214 Thu Ct.

West Fargo School District patrons will vote jointly with the Cass County election.

Polling times are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all locations.

Early voting for the Primary Election also continues through Friday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at three sites, the Hilton Garden Inn, 4351 17th Ave. S., Fargo, the Lodoen Kindergarten Center, 330 3rd Ave. E., West Fargo, and the Days Inn in Casselton.

Ballots for every Cass County precinct are available at each location.

To provide a better overview of local West Fargo City Commission, Park Board and School Board candidates on why they feel they are qualified as the best candidate for respective positions, question and answer interviews appear on page ????? of today's publication. Profiles of all the candidates are available online at The Forums website by clicking on the 2012 Voter's Guide link.