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Mayor Mikesh re-elected

Mayor Pat Mikesh was re-elected in Park Rapids after defeating challenger Sam Spaeth. Mikesh received 61.64 percent of the vote (1,030) to Spaeth's 37.94 percent (634).

With two seats up for election on the Park Rapids City Council, incumbent Ryan Leckner was elected to his first full term after being appointed to the position last year.

There were three candidates running for two four-year terms on the council. Leckner received the most votes with 1,107. Elizabeth Stone was second with 767 votes. Joel Vorhes received 452 votes, followed by Thomas Petschl with 345 votes.

Stone notified the city last month she was withdrawing from the race and did not participate in the candidate forum conducted by the League of Women Voters. According to information provided by the city, when Stone withdrew her name from consideration it was too late and there was no legal way to remove herself from the race. Her name remained on the ballot and she was elected to the council with the second highest number of votes. Following the results of the election, Stone notified the city stating her intent to accept the position, and is within her legal right to do so.

Councilman Paul Utke won the State Senate District 2B seat and will resign his position on the city council after the first of the year. With less than 50 percent of the term remaining, the city council has the option to either hold a special election to fill the position or appoint someone to that position opened up by Utke's departure.

Mikesh is pleased to be elected to a second term as mayor and said while visiting with people he got a better understanding of some of the concerns of the community.

One of his priorities going into this next term is to work with the new police chief in addressing some of the drug issues in Park Rapids.

"We have the new chief in place and I'd like to see the drug issues addressed more," Mikesh said. "We have a good partnership with the county and we will continue the efforts to stop drugs running through Park Rapids."

Mikesh said the council is doing a good job setting and maintaining a budget to be financially responsible to the taxpayers, and this remains a priority for him and the council.

"We're on the right track and we'll keep our fingers on the budget," he said. "No foolish spending as we distinguish the difference between wants and needs in all the city departments. We emphasize a responsible budget."

Infrastructure is always a concern with the community and the council works on a five-year Capital Improvement Plan to address infrastructure needs. In discussing infrastructure and other issues with community members, Mikesh learned a lot of people brought up the need for public restrooms downtown.

"That was one thing that surprised me, how many people brought that up," he said. "We do a good job promoting our downtown. We know the city needs public bathrooms downtown and it is in the works."

The city is first building new restrooms in Deane Park and is now working with the Downtown Business Association to put a public restroom facility in Pioneer Park on Main.

Mikesh said he is pleased with the direction the city is going and as mayor he looks to continue working with the council to make improvements that work best for the community.

"We're working together and moving forward. This is something I've always stressed to the council. We may not always agree on everything but we all agree we want to do good things for the Park Rapids community as a whole."