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Voting opens for mayor of Bonanzaville

Dave Jacobs, Erin Bertel and Wendy Reuer.

It’s time to elect a new mayor for Bonanzaville, the 12-acre pioneer village operated by the Cass County Historical Society in West Fargo.

This year’s mayoral candidates are Mrs. North Dakota International Erin Bertel, radio personality Dave Jacobs of radio station Classic Rock 107.9 The Fox, and Wendy Reuer, assistant editor of The West Fargo Pioneer.

The winner will replace Jay Thomas, host of WDAY 970 radio’s “Jay Thomas Show.” Thomas was elected last year from a field of five candidates.

This is the third year that CCHS has held the mayoral race as a major Bonanzaville fundraiser in which candidates solicit votes by receiving donations. Each dollar donated translates into a vote, said John Strand, Bonanzaville board vice president, who is in charge of this year’s election.

The candidate with the most votes is elected Bonanzaville mayor for the year. The winner will be named at Bonanzaville’s Fourth of July celebration, which was attended by about 4,000 people last year, Strand said. “That’s our biggest people event of the year,” he said.

“This is one of our biggest individual fundraisers for the year,” said Strand. “ It’s a lot of fun.”

Last year the mayoral election raised about $8,000 to $9,000. “It was quite a substantial fundraiser for us,” Strand said.

Most of the voting this year is being done through social media and online. Candidates have created a GoFundMe page online to solicit votes, he said.

Voters can dedicate whether they want funds to support Bonanzaville’s general fund or be directed to help fund the replacement of St. John’s Lutheran Church, a popular Bonanzaville centerpiece that was destroyed by fire nearly one year ago and demolished in September. It is being replaced by South Pleasant Church of Christine, N.D., which has been donated to Bonanzaville.

Businesses and corporations are also encouraged to participate in the mayoral fundraiser. Those donating over $500 will be acknowledged with banners displayed at Bonanzaville events thanking them for their corporate sponsorship, Strand said.

“When we have our Fourth of July celebration we have the mayor be very, very visible.”

The mayor becomes the ambassador for the Bonanzaville community by participating in parades and other events, he said.

Tune into the June 24 Jay Thomas Show on WDAY Radio for a debate between the three candidates. The Jay Thomas Show airs 2-5 p.m. on AM 970.


My name is Dave Jacobs, and along with my morning partner Robbie Daniels, we have been doing morning radio on 107.9 The Fox for 20 years now! Moose Johnson joined us about eight years ago and it’s been real nice to have someone with us that’s willing to do dishes and fold the Fox laundry. He’s a real sweet kid. Snappy dresser and what a dancer! Suck it Kevin Bacon. You’re an empty chair baby.

Why are you running for mayor?

The current administration has almost a Boss Tweed mentality and rumors of corruption and the attempt to bring back disco by that administration was simply too much. Time to crack open the Bon-Ami and get the corners clean again. Remember Duane “The Rock” Johnson when he did that re-make of ‘Walking Tall’? Came in … cleaned house …remember? Well it’s nothing like that. The place is perfect, they just need somebody that actually looks good in a top hat and sash! Not like a sterno bum asking for a dime. (By the way I’d be the handsome top-hat guy I was just referring to, to clear things up) Might even grow a Monopoly Guy moustache! Let’s just see my opponents Erin and Wendy do that!

What will you bring to Bonanzaville if elected?

The Mayor should have a mighty cooler… right there on Main Street. Padlocked. Only those with a key to the city can get into it. That would be me. The Keymaster/Mayor/Burgermeister Meisterburger. VERY powerful position. Summers get hot and cool drinks sure help. Want one? Vote for Dave Jacobs! Might even let you drink from the firehose. Might. We’ll see what Santa says. He’s always watching you know … just like that guy that haunted Rockwell in the ’80s. Good source of info.

Why should people vote for you?

Well, unless you want frilly curtains hanging everywhere and doilies all OVER the place and getting nagged at constantly, you’re going to want a man in there. A manly man! Builds things from steel and wood using flesh and bone! Who else is going to change the oil in ALL the cool old stuff we have there AND kill spiders? Think about it.

What’s your favorite food?

Is buffet a food?


My name is Erin Bertel, wife to John, mother of three, Zach, McKenzie & Elizabeth, Registered Nurse, Chief Sock Angel for The Joy of Sox and Mrs. North Dakota International 2015

Why are you running for mayor?

To honor and preserve the rich history of North Dakota, for the guests of Bonanzaville to better understand and appreciate the present and the future. Currently, there are several buildings that are in need of repair that are unable to be open to the public to enjoy. I look forward to serving as an ambassador to promote Bonanzaville, attend special events, and encourage more visitors to soak up the heritage of North Dakota.

What will you bring to Bonanzaville if elected?

I bring new ideas, and perspectives that reflect me as a woman, wife and mother. I bring time, attention and opinion, the three most valuable commodities in life. I plan to be an engaged mayor to be visible, approachable and create a lasting impact.

Why should people vote for you?

I have the time, ideas and support of my family to serve Bonanzaville as mayor. I volunteered close to 20 hours there in the month of May, taking the time to really feel a scene of the scope of the historic pioneer village, and greeted 1,000s of children and guests. It is this style of visibility, and ambassador opportunity that I plan to continue as mayor.

What’s your favorite food?

Growing up in this area, I am not a stranger to lefsa, meatballs and kuchen; however, I enjoy all the diverse types of foods that we have in this area, especially all of the fresh produce locally grown this summer.


My name is Wendy Reuer, West Fargo Pioneer assistant editor.

Why are you running for mayor?

I’ve always loved Bonanzaville and its mission to not only preserve history but bring it to life through the Pioneer Village. I am happy to do anything I can to help the Cass County Historical Society-Bonanzaville and this seemed like a pretty fun way to do just that.

And, I really thought Bonanzaville could use a woman in charge after two years of mancave-loving Jay Thomas.

What will you bring to Bonanzaville if elected?

I promise to be a good steward to Bonanzaville, attending all the special events and volunteering my time and work anywhere it is needed. I plan to continue to get the word out about news and events happening there.

Why should people vote for you?

As the West Fargo Pioneer assistant editor, even my working title has a Bonanzaville theme. I’m also the only candidate tied to West Fargo, home of Bonanzaville, so I hope West Fargoans will put some votes behind their hometown candidate. I won’t just rest on my laurels, I’ll actively seek ways to get involved with Bonanzaville and the Cass County Historical Society.

Plus, I’ll continue to give everyone in the city a really great, free newspaper each week.

What’s your favorite food?

Hmm, that’s actually not an easy one: I’d say it’s a long standing tie: ice cream or tacos/Mexican.

Fried ice cream and a margarita can make any day better, especially if shared with a friend.