Mikesh stepping down as mayor
Oct. 8 update: The Park Rapids Mayor candidate forum, slated for 6 p.m. Oct. 11, has been moved to city hall.
Park Rapids Mayor Pat Mikesh announced Wednesday that he is withdrawing his bid for re-election.
Mikesh had previously filed for candidacy in the Nov. 6 election, running a fourth two-year term against challenger Pam Hauber.
"Since the official ballots have been prepared, I cannot remove my name as a candidate for mayor for the two-year term commencing Jan. 1, 2019," Mikesh said in a written statement. "However, because of my obligations to my family and my employer, I will not be available to serve if elected. I shall complete my present term ending Dec. 31, 2018."
In closing, Mikesh expressed appreciation for the support of city staff, citizens and the city council during his years as a council member and as mayor.
A Nebraska native who moved to Osage as a child, Mikesh was first elected mayor in 2012, defeating incumbent mayor Nancy Carroll. He weathered challenges by Hauber in 2014 and Sam Spaeth in 2016.
Mikesh also works at Minnesota Energy Resources.
The Enterprise reported that Mikesh told the city council on Nov. 14, 2017 that December 2017 might be his last month as mayor because his job is forcing him to relocate to Wadena.
In January 2018, the Park Rapids City Council appointed Erika Randall as acting mayor. At the time, Mikesh said the appointment was "a formality in case I can't make a meeting," noting that he was trying to sell his house in Park Rapids and relocate closer to Wadena for work reasons.
In July, he resigned as a volunteer firefighter after almost 20 years with the Park Rapids Fire Department.
"I enjoyed working with him," said State Sen. Paul Utke (R-Dist. 2) who served on the Park Rapids City Council from 2009 to 2016, overlapping with Mikesh's tenures as council member and mayor. "Pat's a good, solid guy. You know exactly where he stands on issues. His concern was for the City of Park Rapids."
Utke said he was surprised when he learned that Mikesh was not completing his run for re-election.
Utke noted that public servants seek to do good for the community rather than serve special interests, adding, "I think Pat did a great job of that. He was a good man for the job."
Recalling city projects that took place during Mikesh's years of service, Utke mentioned the Main Avenue reconstruction and various infrastructure improvements which, being below ground, "aren't always the most glamorous" but are still important.
"I think we made a lot of progress over those years," said Utke. "The airport has made some tremendous strides. It's doing a super job for not only our city, but the whole county and the area."
Local business owner and city council member Ryan Leckner announced on Thursday that he is entering the mayoral race as a write-in candidate, following Mikesh's withdrawal from the race.
Leckner owns and operates the Detail Shop and We Sell Your Stuff, Inc. He has served on the city council since 2015, at first as an appointee. He was elected to a four-year term on the council in 2016. He previously served six years as chairman of the Henrietta Township Board and serves on the Fire Relief Association Board of Trustees.
According to a release from his campaign, Leckner plans to participate along with Hauber in the League of Women Voters' mayoral candidate forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 at city hall.
To submit questions in advance for the candidates, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 with "Oct. 11 forum" in the subject line. Written questions may also be submitted at the event for league members to screen. Names of those submitting questions will be kept confidential. For more information, call Lu Ann Hurd-Lof at 820-2716 or visit lwvparkrapidsarea.blogspot.com.
Facing Mikesh on the mayoral ballot is Hauber, a lifelong resident of Park Rapids who also challenged him in 2014. She has described herself as a wife, mother and 17-year employee of Lamb Weston-RDO Frozen.
Upon learning that Mikesh was withdrawing from the race, Hauber said, "I'm looking forward, if I'm elected, to getting the city back on track. I'm just going to keep on campaigning as I have been."
She declined to comment about Mikesh's withdrawal or Leckner's candidacy, but stated that she wants to win the election and believes she will do a good job as mayor.