3 Stutsman County Commission candidates to be on the ballot
Write-in candidates had to get a specific number of votes to move to the fall election.
JAMESTOWN — Three candidates for Stutsman County Commission will officially be on the fall general election ballot. Although votes were cast Tuesday, June 14, for a number of write-in candidates, only one -- Jerry Bergquist – meets the criteria to be on the ballot, said Lee Ann Oliver, election specialist with the North Dakota Secretary of State office.
Bergquist will join incumbent Steve Cichos and Chad Wolsky on the ballot on Nov. 8.
On Tuesday, Cichos received 1,193 votes and Wolsky received 1,151 votes in the unofficial election results.
In order for a write-in candidate to be on the November ballot, the person had to have 2% of the total votes cast for a Stutsman County Commission office in the 2020 general election, or 141 votes, Oliver said Thursday. Bergquist was the only write-in candidate to meet that threshold, with 313 votes.
“They need as many write-in votes as they would have needed signatures on a petition to actually get on the ballot,” she said.
The other top write-in candidates were Nellie Degen, 47; Robin Iszler, 15, and David Schwartz, 14. There were 493 total write-in votes cast for more than 14 individuals.
Bergquist said Wednesday he would run for the commission after the write-in votes were tabulated. A candidate who did not want to run after meeting the criteria would have to declare that in writing by Sept. 6, Oliver said.
Write-in candidates could occur in the Nov. 8 election as well. Any candidate winning in that election would have to simply be among the top vote-getters, Oliver said.
Candidates comment on vote, issues
Cichos was elected in 2018.
“I appreciate the continued support and the votes of the people of Stutsman County,” he said Wednesday. “... I think that it shows that they understand that I’m dedicated to the job and want to continue.”
Cichos said he sees roads, federal funding, employee retention and the sheriff’s office storage building as primary issues with the county at this time. He noted that it’s been unusually wet this year and said the county is facing road issues again as a result.
“We have submitted claims to be considered possibly for FEMA funding,” he said. “With a county our size, roads can continually be an issue of some sort, either repair or repave or maintenance ...”
Cichos said the county also has to decide what to do with the federal dollars it received from the American Rescue Plan Act. The county has received $2 million and is expected to receive about another $2 million in August, as previously reported in The Jamestown Sun.
“We’re working right now closely with department heads on their wish list as to what they may need in their respective departments as to how that funding should be disseminated,” Cichos said. “There’s some discussion that this is ‘free money,’ you know, from the federal government but however, I still look at it that it’s taxpayer’s money one way or the other so we have to be, I think, diligent on how we spend that money.”
Wolsky farms near Kensal, lives in Jamestown and owns Wolsky Contracting, an excavating business.
“I just appreciate everybody that came out to vote, and I just think I bring a unique perspective to the county," he said.
A native of Kensal, he said he hopes to bring ideas to the commission if elected.
He said at this time, with all the rain, roads and culverts are a big issue in Stutsman County.
“I think a lot of people are fighting a lot of stuff to get around on the ag side,” he said. “I think that’s kind of what I see … is a lot of these roads are going to need some updating.”
Bergquist decided to run as a write-in candidate when there weren’t enough people running for the positions, he said. He served as the Stutsman County emergency manager for 32 ½ years and retired in June 2021.
“I think one of the biggest issues is for the county to try and maintain all its current operations and do so in a fiscally sound manner,” Bergquist said.
He noted if elected to the commission it would be a change from his previous work as a department head reporting to the commission to one where he would be listening to the other departments and others looking for direction from the commission.
“It’s just a different kind of a role,” he said. “Because of my emergency management role, I’m very familiar with the overall operations of the county and how all the departments work and how they function.”
He said he is also interested in housing issues related to economic development. He said economic development is good but there’s a problem with lack of affordable housing. He said he’s known many cases of people wanting to live here who found it difficult to do so because they couldn’t find affordable housing.
“Is that a direct problem of (the) county? No, it’s not, but if the county and the city of Jamestown want to move forward with economic development projects, I think it’s really important that we not only find companies and businesses willing to be here but we got to find ways for the people that would be employed by those companies to be able to have a place to live,” Bergquist said.
The Stutsman County Canvassing Board is expected to meet at 10 a.m. June 27 to certify the results.
This story provides updated election information, correcting the eligible write-in candidates as reported in the June 16 Jamestown Sun e-edition.