Community ed, volunteers organize event to offer voters look at Pelican, West Otter Tail candidates

Full ballot sparks high interest in city, school, sheriff, county elections

The fullest ballot in a decade or more will face voters in West Otter Tail County when they go to the polls November 6–in terms of local and area elected offices.

To assist and inform voters for Election 2018, the Pelican Rapids school community education department will host a candidate forum October 10, beginning at 6 p.m., at the new Pelican Rapids High School auditorium.

A total of 13 candidates are running for the Pelican school board, Pelican city council and mayor positions.

Meanwhile, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s office is wide open; and the County Board seat serving West Otter Tail County is on the ballot.

Running for sheriff are law enforcement veterans Kyle Bergren and Barry Fitzgibbons. Challenging Wayne Johnson for the District 2 county board spot is Jeff Gontarek. Both are Pelican Rapids natives.

Community Education’s Cary Haugrud and community volunteer Ben Sytsma are spearheading the candidate forum; in collaboration with the Pelican Rapids Press.

Haugrud, a Pelican school faculty member will coordinate a team of students to video the forum for re-broadcast.

Confirmed as moderator of the forum is Jerry Ness, superintendent of the Fergus Falls School District. Ness has deep connections to the greater Pelican area, as his father was farmers elevator manager in Lawndale, west of Pelican. The Ness family have Lake Lida property dating back to 1959–so Jerry Ness has a personal interest in the West Otter Tail elections.

Details regarding the format of the candidate forum are still being developed. But each candidate will be given the opportunity to make a brief introductory statement.

Organizer Ben Sytsma is encouraging advanced, written questions in order to effectively plan for the forum. The Pelican Rapids Press will serve as the email address for submitted questions:

With so many candidates on the Election 2018 ballot, it will be a full evening. So Sytsma and organizers are hoping to plan as much of the proceedings and format as possible–ahead of the Oct. 10 gathering.

Following are the candidates who have been invited to the forum:

Pelican Rapids School Board
Charlie Blixt
Brittany Dokken
Dena Johnson
Jessica Fahje
Greg Larson
Brenda Olson

Pelican Rapids city mayor
Brent Frazier
Steven Foster

Pelican Rapids City Council
Dawn Finn
Curt Markgraf
Juan Carlos Murillo
Steve Strand
John Waller III

Otter Tail County board
Jeff Gontarek
Wayne Johnson

Otter Tail Sheriff
Kyle Bergren
Barry Fitzgibbons