Granite Falls-Clarkfield area residents cast votes in historic election

Kyle Klausing
News Editor
The Clarkfield town crier literally ringing in the start of the election Tuesday morning.

In many respects, the 2020 election was an unusual one. COVID-19 in particular changed the way many people vote by prompting a historic surge in absentee and mail-in votes, which in turn means that it has taken much longer for full results to trickle in. However, by Wednesday morning, most Minnesota results were accounted for. Here is how local races went down.

City of Clarkfield

In the Clarkfield mayoral race, Dale Stringer, Jr. won unopposed. Despite no obvious opposition candidate, total votes for write-in candidates stood at 147 (41.41%). Stringer was elected with 208 (58.59%). Clarkfield voters also voted for two council members from Ward 2. There were a total of 4 candidates in the running, with the top two winning seats on the council. The two winners were Craig Giles (291 votes, or 41.34%) and Paul Anspach (183 votes, or 25.99%). Runners-up included Jacob Hurst (138 votes, or 19.60%) and incumbent Mayor Susan Fritz (77 votes, or 10.94%).

City of Granite Falls

Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski was re-elected to the 4-year position unopposed. Smiglewski won 1,310 votes (96.68%), while 45 votes (3.32%) were cast for write-in candidates.

Another Granite elected official running unopposed was Councilmember Scott Peterson who ran in the at-large district. Peterson received 1,252 votes (98.2%). 23 votes (1.8%) were cast for write-in candidates.

In Ward 1, Sharon Pazi Zea and Joseph Fagnano won re-election. Two council members are elected from Ward 2, so because they were the only two running, both won full terms on the Council. Fagnano won more votes, coming in at 674 votes (54.18%). Pazi Zea was 10 points behind with 549 (44.13%).

Yellow Medicine East School Board

A total of 7 candidates competed in the close and crowded race for the Yellow Medicine East School Board, with the top 4 winning representation. Incumbents who won re-election included Dawn Odegard (2,064 votes, or 20.55%), Amanda Lecy (1,999 votes, or 19.9%), and Sonja Pederson (1,485 votes, 14.78%). Matthew Zempel also secured a seat on the Board by winning 1,406 votes, or 14%). Incumbent Board member Jeremy Corner was unsuccessful in his efforts to win re-election, earning a total of 1,028 votes, or 10.23%. Steven G. Johnson (1,053 votes, or 10.48%) and Paul W. Smith (929 votes, or 9.25%), also lost their races.

Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners

There were races in three districts for the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners. In District 3, incumbent Gary Johnson handily won re-election with 606 votes, or 59.18%. His challenger, W. Mitch Kling, earned 416 votes, or 40.63%. 2 votes were cast for write-in candidates.

In District 4, incumbent Ron Antony won re-election unopposed, netting 1,037 votes, or 97.46%. 27 write-in votes were cast, or 2.54%. In District 5, incumbent Glen Kack also won re-election (1,047 votes, 99.15%). 9 votes were cast for write-in candidates, or 0.85%.

Minnesota State House

Voters in Minnesota House District 16A resoundingly voted to send incumbent GOP representative Chris Swedzinski back to St. Paul. Swedzinski earned 13,913 votes, or 69.17%. His DFL opponent Doria Drost earned 6,184 votes, or 30.75%.

MN HD 17A incumbent Tim Miller also won his re-election campaign against DFL challenger Ben Dolan. Miller earned 13,268 votes (64.31%) compared to Dolan’s 6,353 votes (30.79%). Legal Marijuana Now candidate Ed Engelmann earned 1,007 votes, or 4.88%.

Minnesota State Senate

Voters in Minnesota State Senate District 16 also voted resoundingly in favor of the GOP incumbent Gary Dahms, giving him 29,690 votes (73.66%). Independence-Alliance candidate Joshua Prine earned 5,647 votes (14.01%) and Legal Marijuana Now candidate Steve "Stoney" Preslicka earned 4,875 votes (12.09%).

MN SD 17 incumbent Andrew Lang was also easily returned to office, winning 28,326 votes, or 67.86%. His DFL opponent Fernando Alvarado earned 13,375 votes, or 32.04%.