Rotter, Thomas and Okeson elected to DL School Board, one seat still to be appointed
Lake Park-Audubon, Waubun-Ogema-White Earth and Frazee-Vergas school districts also had elections.
DETROIT LAKES — While some people kept a close eye on the local polls during election night, Detroit Lakes School Board candidate Mickey Okeson spent a quiet evening at home, occasionally glancing at the tallies.
“When I went to bed I had confidence I would be one of the three (school board members) elected,” she said.
Okeson was right. She took an early lead as the favorite and maintained that status throughout the night. She attributed her popularity to being an involved member of the community for many years, from 4-H to church, business to school events. The 1974 Detroit Lakes High School graduate raised five children in the community with her husband Charlie. She was involved in leading 4-H programs, church committees and more. The two also own a business — Okeson Offtrail Sales and have a crop farm.
After the win was official, Okeson began mulling over comments that were made during the race. She continued to return to one specific comment that suggested board members should not have an agenda when joining the board.
“I do have an agenda,” she said, and then explained that Pablo Casals summarized it best when he said, “The child must know that he is a miracle …”
“That (quote) has been ringing in my mind for months,” Okeson said, noting the school board may not have a direct path to helping students understand they were created with a purpose, but she does hope to encourage avenues where students will be supported and not need to find validation in unhealthy ways.
In addition to Okeson, newcomer Mary Rotter was elected to the school board as was incumbent April Thomas. Both were contacted for comment, but did not respond before the deadline.
The candidate earning the fourth most votes was Ethan Walz. The day after the election, the 2018 Detroit Lakes High School graduate expressed gratitude to his supporters and all who voted.
“Thank you to all the voters for coming out and doing their part,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to run and I met a lot of great people.”
Walz enjoyed election night by watching the polls, which were particularly close throughout the night. He noted this election was different from the first time he ran for school board, as there were two more candidates on the ballot.
“It was neck and neck, which is a tribute to how much the candidates got out and campaigned and wanted to contribute to the successes the district is having,” he said. “We have such a great school district and community; we should be proud of it.”
Walz is eager to hear the school board’s plan for filling the recently vacated seat of Courtney Henderson. Her term would’ve expired on Dec. 31, 2024. When Henderson resigned at the Oct. 24 meeting, the superintendent said the board would discuss how to fill the vacancy at the November meeting, which is set for Monday, Nov. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at MState in Room C101.
Votes reviewed by district
Okeson collected 3,213 votes, the most of all candidates. Of the 23 voting districts for the Detroit Lakes schools, she got the most votes in 15 of the districts and tied for the most votes in two other districts. The top five districts where she received the most votes were: Detroit Lakes Ward 3 (570), Detroit Lakes Ward 2 (506), Detroit Township P-1 (400), Detroit Lakes Ward 1 (374) and Erie Township (210).
Thomas had 2,692 total votes. The five districts where she collected the most votes were: Detroit Lakes Ward 2 (580), Ward 3 (568), Ward 1 (336), Lake View Township (318) and Detroit Township P-1 (300). In Ward 2, Thomas received the most votes of all candidates.
Mary Rotter received 2,567 votes in total. The districts she collected the most votes in were: Detroit Lakes Ward 2 (567), Ward 3 (498), Lake View Township (418), Detroit Township P-1 (293) and Ward One (288). Rotter received the most votes of all candidates in two districts — Lake Eunice Township (70 votes) and Lake View Township (418 votes).
Walz saw a total of 2,475 votes. The five locations where he collected the most votes were: Detroit Lakes Ward 3 (487), Ward 2 (465), Ward 1 (298), Detroit Township P-1 (283) and Lake View Township (283). In Hamden Township, Walz tied for the most votes of all candidates with Okeson. Both received 14.
Ashley Schoenberger received 2,109 votes. The top five districts where she received votes were: Detroit Lakes Ward 2 (403), Ward 3 (364), Ward 1 (301), Detroit Township P-1 (241) and Lake View Township (234).
Erica Marquis received 522 votes total. She received the most votes in the following districts: Detroit Lakes Ward 2 (124), Ward 3 (85), Ward 1 (70), Detroit Township P-1 (60) and Lake View Township (51).
Susan Felt collected a total of 2,320 votes. The top five districts where she received the most votes were: Detroit Lakes Ward 3 (430), Ward 2 (429), Ward 1 (314), Lake View Township (298) and Detroit Township P-1 (274).
Del Jasken received 1,901 votes. The five districts where Jasken collected the most votes were: Detroit Lakes Ward 3 (376), Ward 2 (342), Detroit Township P-1 (228), Lake View Township (206) and Ward 1 (202). Jasken tied with Okeson for being the candidate with the most votes in Maple Grove Township (4 votes).
It should be noted three townships (Height of Land, Eagle View Township and Detroit Township P-2) reported no votes.
There were 31 write-in votes.
While Thomas ran for re-election, current board members Jennifer Pedersen and Tom Seaworth did not run.
LPA, Waubun-Ogema-White Earth and Frazee-Vergas elect board members
Lake Park-Audubon School District had four seats available on the school board, and held a special election for a fifth board member. The four seats during the regular election were won by: Susan DeBlieck, 1,415 votes, Brian Bestge, 1,466, Paul Danda, 1,297 and Incumbent Becky Mitchell, 1,574. There were 69 write-in votes.
The sole candidate for the school board special election in LP-A was Lynn Kaiser, who received 1,882 votes. There were 33 write-in votes.
Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School Board had four open seats and four people ran. Incumbent Christie Haverkamp received 735 votes, incumbent Vikki Bevins, 690, incumbent Nick McArthur, 695, and Jerome Lhotka, 714. There were 29 write-in votes.
The Frazee-Vergas School Board had four seats up for election and four people ran, all of which were incumbents. The vote tallies were as follows: Daneele Shipman, 1,899 votes, Tammie Nunn, 1,826, Nathan Matejka, 1,810 and Kimberly Antonsen, 1,678. There were also 84 write-in votes.