Following the second of two filing periods for running for political office on Aug. 11, voters in Cambridge, Isanti, North Branch and both Isanti and Chisago Counties find themselves with few choices for the local races, which should almost certainly lead to the re-election of a majority of the incumbents.
For this round of filings, three seats on the Cambridge-Isanti and North Branch School Boards were open, plus two seats on the North Branch City Council and the North Branch Mayoral seat. As of filing closing at 5 p.m. two of the four races will be considered “uncontested,” meaning there is the same number of candidates running as the number of seats open. One of the races only has one more candidate than open seats, and the final race currently has two more candidates than seats open.
The most intriguing race of the four is for North Branch mayor. Current mayor Jim Swenson will face two challengers in current council member Brian Voss and political newcomer Gerard Kunz. Over the last several months, Voss and Swenson have openly clashed during council meetings, with a majority of the contentious atmosphere surrounding the ongoing Water & Light Commission drama.
Voss is also running in somewhat of a “no lose” scenario where even if he fails in his bid to become mayor, he still has two years remaining in his term as a council member.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the lack of candidates for the two open North Branch city council seats. That race had the same makings for a contentious battle, however it turned out only two candidates will be on the ballot, thus making it an uncontested race. Current council member Kelly Neider is seeking re-election, however current council member Joel MacPherson opted to not run, opening the door for Amanda Darwin to have an uncontested run for the council. Darwin currently sits on the North Branch Parks, Trails and Open Spaces Commission.
For Cambridge-Isanti School Board, current board members Gary Hawkins, Carri Levitski and Heidi Sprandel will be joined by a familiar local political name in the form of former Isanti Mayor George Wimmer, meaning two out of the three incumbents are a virtual guarantee to be re-elected.
Finally, North Branch School Board incumbents Tim MacMillian, Heather Osagiede, and newly-appointed member Tanya Giese are running unopposed.
large fields in braham races
The exception to the lack of candidates comes from the city of Braham, where three people - Timothy Bokovoy, current council member Shawn Sullivan and current mayor Tish Carlson are running for mayor.
The city council’s two open seats also have a crowded field with six candidates running. Besides current council member Jeremy Kunshier; Mollie Davis, Ryan Davis, Adam Gossel, Ethan Thomforde and Seth Zeltinger have tossed their caps into the race.
Since Sullivan is running for mayor, there will be at least one new council member who will take his place as Sullivan’s seat is one of the two open.
Even more crowded than that is the race for Braham School Board, where nine candidates will be vying for the four open seats. Current board members Mike Thompson and Angie Flowers will be seeking re-election, and are being joined on the ballot by Jeffrey Campbell, Michael Doble, Kayla Hagfors, Catherine Kunshier, Melissa Lotz, David Shockman and Brittany Ward.
All of these races are subject to change as candidates have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13 to withdraw and have their filing fees refunded. See next week’s edition of the Star for those changes, if there are any.