Murphy wins bd. seat in southeast part of county


Wayne Johnson

Betty Murphy of rural Underwood is the new member of the five-person Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners for District 4. She fills the position held formerly by the late Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie.

Reelected to the county board in District 2 was Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids.

Johnson was reelected with 54.9 percent of the votes in District 2 compared to 44.8 percent tallied by Jeff Gontarek of the Erhard area.

District 2 includes 13 townships and the communities of Pelican Rapids, Erhard, Elizabeth and Vergas.

Johnson garnered 2,819 votes; Gontarek collected 2,299 votes. 

Johnson and his wife Dena grew a small septic business into design, installation, inspection and portable toilet rentals. Johnson currently serves as county board chairman. 

Murphy won the District 4 position over Bob Lahman of rural Parkers Prairie. Murphy had 52.7 percent of the votes and Lahman tallied 47.1 percent.

Betty Murphy

She will represent District 4 that includes 19 townships and the communities of Parkers Prairie, Bluffton, Clitherall, Deer Creek, Henning, Ottertail, Vining and Urbank.

Murphy and her husband Tom operate Murphy’s IBA in Maine Township which is a dairy and agricultural route supply business serving dairy producers in northwestern Minnesota. 

The other three county commissioners, up for reelection in 2020, include Doug Huebsch of Perham, Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls and John Lindquist of Dalton.

Otter Tail County, with 62 townships, is larger in size than the state of Rhode Island and paved roads total 1,062 miles.

County board members hold meetings the first, second and fourth Tuesday mornings of each month at the county Government Services Center in northwest Fergus Falls. Special meetings, where public input is sought on a particular issue, are held in communities such as Pelican Rapids, Perham, Henning and Parkers Priarie.

Following election, Otter Tail Commissioner Wayne Johnson anxious to seek input from citizens on visions for county over next 25 years

Statement from Wayne Johnson, Otter Tail County Commissioner, District 2, following his re-election last week

I think this election shows that many of the people are satisfied with the direction we are going.

Our priority now is to expand our tax base. We have jobs, we need people, wages are starting to rise due to competition, but housing is an issue, along with daycare for our young families. We live in the greatest place on earth, we want our young adults to return home to have families, continue their careers here, start and grow businesses here. 

At the same time we have to protect our lakes and natural resources, that is what Otter Tail County is known for. It is a delicate balancing act. I think you can have economic growth and protect our resources, but you need to be thoughtful on how you do that.

We will be engaging our citizens in the near future to see what their priorities are, where they want Otter Tail County to be in 25 years. There are a lot of bright people that live here, we want to hear from them as to what they see our future is. If we have a clear vision of what we want this area to look like in the future, it is a lot easier to take steps to get there.

My opponent brought up some good points. We all need to work together, and we need to communicate with our citizens. We are working on that, but communication this day and age is a complex issue.

I look forward to serving the people of Otter Tail County for the next four years. I want everyone to know they can always reach out and share their concerns, and their ideas on how we can make county government work better for them.