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DL Newspaper Endorsement - Okeson, Grimsley for County Board

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Redistricting has forced two sitting Becker county commissioners -- John Okeson and Gerry Schram -- to run against each other in the new District 3.

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Both have been good commissioners: Schram is generous with his time and is always willing to serve as a board representative at meetings and events around the area.

Okeson also puts plenty of extra time in with the Planning and Zoning Committee and the Radio Board -- which is a story in itself.

Both have the good of Becker County at heart, have deep roots in Becker County, and have served their constituents well.

But we give the endorsement to Okeson because of his many years of experience with county roads and highways, and his longtime experience as a township supervisor in Lakeview Township.

With decades of experience as a Becker County Highway Department supervisor, he has a comprehensive understanding of that department, one of the largest and most important in the county.

He is now a private consultant on gravel road construction and maintenance and is considered an expert in the field -- the University of Minnesota refers calls on that subject to him.

Okeson has a thorough knowledge of county and township government, a pragmatic outlook, and a low-key approach that serves him well. He deserves to be re-elected.

•••

Redistricting also opened up a brand new Becker County Board district this year -- District 2, which consists solely of Detroit Lakes wards 2 and 3.

Ben Grimsley is facing off against Craig Fontaine to represent the new district, which encompasses much of Detroit Lakes south of Highway 10.

Fontaine is a good man with a diverse work background who knows how to rise to a challenge, but this time around the nod goes to Grimsley.

We didn't endorse Grimsley when he ran for State Legislature against Paul Marquart a few years ago because we thought he needed more experience.

We are endorsing him now because working as a commissioner will help him get that experience.

Grimsley has put a lot of time and energy into his run for the county board, campaigning actively and putting in time at county meetings and at city meetings, especially those that involve District 2.

County and city priorities don't always line up, and city residents need a strong advocate on the board when conflicts arise.

Because of its unusual makeup -- a county board seat in an all-city district -- the District 2 representative should also be especially open to Detroit Lakes and Becker County working together to save taxpayer dollars.

We believe Grimsley will serve the new district well in both capacities.

Grimsley's energy, work ethic and willingness to learn will stand him in good stead on the county board.

And if he chooses to pursue higher office later, he'll have a deeper understanding of the importance of well-thought-out legislation, and how state action -- good and bad -- affects people at the local level.

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