CIE Hosting Candidate "Virtual" Forums

City, County & State “Virtual” Forums, Primary & General Elections


The Bemidji Area Citizens for an Informed Electorate (CIE) is hosting virtual forums for both the Primary and General Elections in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The CIE will be sharing candidate info by social media, City website, and First City TV (Cable Channel 2) rather than holding our usual forums at Bemidji City Hall.

Answers to 13 questions along with candidate head shots are now posted on CiE’s Facebook site

Questions from voters came through personal emails to CIE members or on our Facebook site. Deadline for question submission was June 20. All candidates received the same questions by Office, city or county.

Two-minute candidate introductory videos, used as candidates prefer, will air on First City TV cable Channel 2, (hopefully several times) on the city’s website, and on the CIE Facebook page, address above. Posting of videos is a little tardy because of the variety of formats submitted, but we hope to have all posted by the end of the week. (Will update when that happens)

On both the Facebook site and First City TV, candidate info is posted by office sought (Mayor, Council, County) and in alphabetical order and will be available up through election day, August 11. (We expect video runtimes for the 16 of 23 candidates who submitted videos for city/county primary to be about 40 minutes)

All but two of the 23 candidates submitted headshots and answers to questions, 16 submitted videos.

The CIE, formed in 2008, seeks to provide an outlet for the public to gain more knowledge about candidates in order to make an informed decision at the polls prior to the August 11 Primary and November 3 General Election.

The CIE represents a cross section of citizens and media members who want to provide opportunities for the public to know the candidates and issues. We include Patricia Grimes, Rachell Houle, Linda Lemmer, Michael Meuers, Dennis Montgomery, Maggie Montgomery, and Michael Naylor.

Backgroud Synopsis

Schedule for posting head shots/question answers, CIE FB page

Thursday, July 9 – Mayor (6)

Friday, July 10 – Ward 1 (5)

Saturday, July 11 – Ward 2 (2)

Sunday, July 12 – Ward 3 (3)

Monday, July 13 – Ward 5 (3)

Tuesday, July 14 – County Dist. 5 (3)

Videos will be posted no later than 17 July on our FB site, City website, and hopefully broadcast a number of times on First City TV. (I’ll send out notice)

We asked for headshot, answer 13 questions, and two-minute video from 23 candidates. They got email and phone call reminders and a 24-hour grace period.

Two submitted nothing; Ivan Smith and Don Heinonen

Five (+ 2 above) submitted photo and answers but no video; Robert Elliott, Ryan Enger, Laura Fairbanks, Greg Kuhn, Paul Wiese.

Candidate Filings for 2020

Bemidji Area Citizens for an Informed Electorate (CIE)

Primary & City Special Election Ward 2, August 11

General Election November 3

Primary: City of Bemidji Mayor & Council Positions

Bemidji Mayor:

Robert A. Elliott B (not submitting video)

1006 Arch Lane SW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 766-1119

John Henningsgaard B/V

1520 Bixby Avenue NE

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 444-9845

Michael Meehlhause B/V

911 Minnesota Ave NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(763) 614-8863

Jorge Prince B/V

2085 Grotte Ave NE

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 407-8833

Ivan Smith (Will submit nothing)

914 Roosevelt Road SE

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 214-0907

Mark Thorson B/V

1615 30th Street NW, #27

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 766-8201

Bemidji Ward 1:

Ryan Enger B (not submitting video)

907 Irvine Avenue NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 210-3974

Laura Fairbanks B (not submitting video)

1708 Irvine Avenue NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 760-9918

Joe Gould B/V

1621 Birch Lane

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 259-4342

Adam Hellquist B (not submitting video)

1003 Bemidji Avenue N

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 209-9084

Audrey M. Thayer B/V

303 15th Street NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 368-3590

Bemidji Ward 2: Special Election August 11

Josh Peterson B/V

620 21st Street NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 209-1705

Jaime′ Thibodeaux B/V

736 26th Street NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

218) 308-6853

Bemidji Ward 3:

Ron Johnson B/V

1804 Beltrami Ct NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 766-8783

Greg Kuhn B (not submitting V)

206 25th Street NW

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 766-8472

Paul M. Wiese B (not submitting V)

1230 Wiese LN NW

Bemidji. MN. 56601

(218) 444-8495

Snail Mail

Bemidji Ward 5:

Nancy L. Erickson B/V

508 Lincoln Avenue SE

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 444-9168

Don Heinonen (Will submit nothing)

415 Gould Avenue NE

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(218) 556-9689

Ernest "Joey" Oppegaard-Peltier. B/V

215 Lake Ave NE

Bemidji, MN. 56601

(701) 215-6836

Beltrami County

County Commissioner District 5

Mike Bredon B/V

304 Elm St. NE

Bemidji, MN 56601

(612) 475-9560

Jim Lucachick B/V

13318 Wildwood Road NE

Bemidji, MN 56601

(218) 556-5944

Christian Taylor-Johnson B/V

331 Julia Vista Dr. NW

Bemidji, MN 56601

(218) 839-5365

General Election

Commissioner District 3

Reed Olson

711 14TH ST NW

Bemidji, MN 56601

(218) 766-0383

Joe Vene

1415 Birchmont Drive NE

Bemidji, MN 56601

(218) 556-5478

County Commissioner District 4

Danny Anderson

27568 Kelliher Rd. NE

Kelliher, MN 56650

(218) 556-0897

Timothy A. Sumner

14482 Birch RD PO BOX 291

Red Lake, MN 56671

(218) 407-7589

State Offices

State Senate District 2

Leonard Alan Roy, DFL

36986 313TH Ave.

Ogema, MN 56569

(218) 841-6793

Paul Utke, GOP

15666 Deerwood Loop

Park Rapids, MN 56470

(218) 255-1131

State Representative District 2A

Jeremiah Liend, DFL

243 Salem Dr. SE

Turtle River, MN 56601

(218) 308-0076

Matt Grossell, GOP

227 Main St. N.

Clearbrook, MN 56634

(218) 209-7661

State Senate District 5

Rita Albrecht, DFL

1911 Norton Ave. NW

Bemidji, MN 56601

(218) 760-8715

Dennis Barsness, Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis

27707 Trout Lake Rd.

Bovey, MN 55709

(218) 910-5673

Justin Eichorn, GOP

1704 Timber Ridge Lane

Grand Rapids, MN 55744

(218) 259-5334

Robin Smith, Legal Marijuana Now

3721 Cty. Rd. 54 NE

Longville, MN 56655

(651) 775-1230

State Representative District 5A

John Persell, DFL

2435 Staghorn Lane SE

Bemidji, MN 56601

(218) 751-2770

Matt Bliss, GOP

26851 Roadrunner Dr. NE

Pennington, MN 56663

(218) 766-5267

In Brief

Primary Candidates City of Bemidji


Jorge Prince, Michael Meehlhause, Robert A. Elliott, Ivan Smith, Mark Thorson, John Henningsgaard

Ward 1:

Joe Gould, Audrey M. Thayer, Laura Fairbanks, Adam Hellquist, Ryan Enger,

Ward 2: (Special Election) Winner finishes Beard’s term. (Will answer questions/submit video)

Jaime′ Thibodeaux vs Josh Peterson

Ward 3:

Ron Johnson, vs Paul M. Wiese vs Greg Kuhn

Ward 5:

Nancy L. Erickson vs Don Heinonen, vs Ernest "Joey" Oppegaard-Peltier,

Primary Candidates County of Beltrami

Commissioner District 5

Mike Bredon, vs Jim Lucachick, vs Christian Taylor-Johnson,

General Election Candidates (No Primary)


Commissioner District 3

Reed Olson vs Joe Vene

Commissioner District 4

Timothy A. Sumner vs Danny Anderson


State Senate District 2

Leonard Alan Roy, DFL, vs Paul Utke, GOP,

State Representative District 2A

Jeremiah Liend, DFL, vs Matt Grossell, GOP,

State Senate District 5

Rita Albrecht, DFL, vs Justin Eichorn, GOP, vs Robin Smith, Legal Marijuana Now, vs Dennis Barsness, Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis

State Representative District 5A

John Persell, DFL vs Matt Bliss, GOP

Paul Bunyan Broadcasting candidate radio/television interviews with reporter Larissa Donovan



Questions for ALL candidates

Please answer relative to the position you are running for

Answers must be in 500 words or less

1. How long have you been a resident of the City of Bemidji or Beltrami County?

2. How do you see the role of the Mayor, Councilor, County Commissioner?

3. What have you done as a volunteer for the betterment of the community or county?

4. What is your response to a "Citizen Militia" like we are seeing in other communities?

5. Was there a specific event or conversations that caused you to run for office?

6. What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the city or county? Why?

7. Since you are running for office, the assumption is that you have been following the actions of the city council or county commissioners. Name two issues that have occurred in the past two years that have caused you to run for office.


1. Will your employer allow you to have time off so that you may fulfill all of the duties of mayor including attending committee meetings and other necessary events?

2. How would you assess citizen opinion to guide important decisions if elected to office?

3. What is your position on a hospitality tax or sales tax increase?

4. Setting aside water, sewer, Sanford Center, what is the next big concern for the city?

5. Do you think there should be an arborist position in the future for either Parks & Recreation or the Street Department?

6. Now that the Orderly Annexation in Northern Township has been completed should the Charter Commission create another ward?


1. What part of county government would receive more of your attention? Why?

(Beltrami County manages Three Island County Park and Movil Maze Recreational Area. Over the years, Beltrami County has conducted a number of timber harvests that many see as controversial in these areas. At one time there was a citizen advisory committee that helped guide decision making concerning these assets. That committee was disbanded.)

2. Do you support the use of timber harvests within Three Island and Movil?

3. Without an advisory committee of interested citizens, how would you determine the range of public opinions for management activities within these areas?

4. Would you support a citizen commission once again?

Earlier this year, a majority of the Beltrami County Board passed a resolution to not allow refugee resettlement in the county. It is believed this resolution appeared to be driven by rumors circulating on the internet. The decision did not appear to represent the views of a majority of citizens.

5. In your opinion, what is the proper process to make decisions of this nature?

6. What sources of information do you plan to make decisions of this kind?


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