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Candidates can demand recount in two West Fargo races

WEST FARGO — Two races here are close enough that candidates may be eligible to ask for a recount, which they can do after votes are canvassed on Monday, June 18, at their own expense.

In the West Fargo School Board election, 14 candidates were on the ballot seeking four open seats. Retired West Fargo teacher and coach Jim Jonas led the field with 13 percent of the vote, followed by newcomer Jessica Heilman with 11 percent and incumbent Kara Gravley-Stack with 10 percent, in unofficial results.

Incumbent Jon Erickson received 7.5 percent of the vote but newcomer Summer Kristianson was close behind with 7.4 percent. The two were separated by just 19 votes, with Erickson receiving 1,183 votes and Kristianson receiving 1,164.

Four candidates sought three seats on the West Fargo Park Board, and just 22 votes separated the third and fourth vote-getters.

Challenger Chris Heise earned 29.4 percent of the vote. Jake Lauritsen got 23.8 percent, followed by incumbent Jeff McCracken with 23.42 percent and incumbent Ken Zetocha collected 23.15 percent, in unofficial results. Heise had the most votes with 2,412, followed by Lauritsen (1,952), McCracken (1,921) and Zetocha (1,899). Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said Wednesday, June 13, that an automatic recount is triggered if candidates are separated by less than half of 1 percent.

A race is eligible for a demand recount, or one in which a candidate can request a recount, when candidates are less than 2 percent than the highest vote-getter.

Montplaisir said a number of absentee votes still need to be recorded but that will be before next week when his office will canvass the results.

"We'll have the canvassing on Monday morning and once we get done that, we'll recertify totals and then candidates can decide if they want a demand recount," Montplaisir said.

In the case of demand recounts, candidates must pay the tab. Montplaisir did not have an estimated recount cost, but said, "It's not a big expense."

"We normally don't do demand recounts, because they don't often ask for one," Montplaisir said.

Zetocha may continue to serve on the Park Board without a demand recount.

Longtime member Kathy Scully will resign on Thursday, June 14. Her term ends in 2020.

The Park Board will appoint a new member to replace Scully, and members can choose to receive applications or appoint the lowest vote-getter. At its Wednesday meeting, the current board decided to table a decision on how to move forward with an appointment until the new members take office. A reorganizational meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 26.

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 at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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