By Kim Fundingsland and Lydia Hoverson
MINOT -- Some counties in the Ward County area have contested races this election, giving voters decisions to be made within the next week. Absentee and early voting is underway with Election Day November 8.
Two county commission seats are contested for McHenry County. Lance Johnson and Douglas Woodall are racing for the county’s Third District seat.
Newcomers Shawn Kramer, Denbigh, and Duane Drader, Towner, are vying for the county’s Fifth District seat. Both spoke briefly with The Dakotan.
“I am a lifelong resident of District 5, Mchenry County, and bring to the table my experience as a husband, father of four boys, and 30 years of problem solving as an entrepreneur and owner of Sandhills Saddlery, where I and my son Jack handcraft custom western saddles and fine leather goods for customers worldwide,” said Kramer. “I am eager to listen to, learn from, and serve the people of District 5.”
“I’m running because you hear all the complaints about roads,” said Drader. “I have experience with roads and bridges and 20 years of construction before I opened my own shop. That’s what I’ve got to bring to the table. The rest of it is new to me if I get in.”
Those living in Legislative District 6 have two options for the state Senate seat between independent Robert Tolar and Republican Shawn Vedaa.
Tolar explained on his website why he is running.
“I am disheartened by the divisive rhetoric that has consumed our country,” said Tolar. “It’s time to bring the temperature down to let cooler heads prevail with moderate voices and mature temperament. I believe that if we simply talk to each other more openly and with mutual respect, we’ll prove our country is less divided than we are led to believe.”
The Dakotan was unsuccessful in attempting to contact Vedaa.
McHenry County Auditor Darlene Carpenter said the county has not sent out as many mail-in ballots as in the 2020 election.
“But then that was a presidential election, which you normally get a better turnout,” said Carpenter. “There’s a lot of people skeptical with the mail these days. Most of our people vote through the mail, but it’s hard to say with the walk-in voters.”
The county paper is the only contested race in Mountrail County as a whole. However, those living in Legislative District 4a must make a decision between Democrat Lisa Finley-DeVille, New Town, and Republican incumbent Terry Jones, New Town, for its lone state House of Representatives seat.
“I would hope people would vote for me because of what I’ve been doing for the last six years for the people of District 4a,” said Jones. “I’ve been working on the judiciary committee. We’ve done lots of coordination with law enforcement to try to slow down the drugs and the bad substances coming into our communities. We’ve done lots for missing and murdered indigenous women, we’ve done lots for human trafficking. I don’t even know where to start on the stuff that I’ve done.”
Jones said he hopes people vote for him because he is part of the majority party and could get more done than if his constituents vote for someone from the Democratic party.
Mountrail County Auditor Stephanie Pappa said there has been more early ballots returned in the county than during the primary election in June, which was lower than usual.
“The absentees are starting to pick up, we’re getting quite a few a day,” said Pappa. “Hopefully the turnout is better than the primary. For a non-presidential year, it’s higher than usual.”
There are some contests in Bottineau County, choices for voters to make, whether through absentee voting or at the polls next Tuesday.
One choice voters will have to make is for auditor, where current auditor Emily Deschamp is being challenged by Deanna Abernathy. Perhaps the most interesting race is for sheriff. Steve Watson has announced his retirement, opening the way for candidates Jeremy Tofteland, Westhope, and Matthew Schimetz, Lake Metigoshe. Both are current deputies with the department.
Other Bottineau County races are for District 1 and District 3 spots on the County Commission. District 1 has Rodney Hiatt and Douglas Marsden on the ballot, while District 3 has Benjamin Tonneson and Jeremy Ketterling.
Renville County has only one contested race on the ballot, that being two candidates vying for a District 1 seat on the County Commission. They are Bill Stanley and Andy Gates.
County Auditor Beth Knutson, Washburn, called this year’s election, at least in the county proper, to be “pretty boring” with no contested races for county positions.