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Published June 12 2012

Four to advance in contested Cass Commission races

FARGO – Cass County voters on Tuesday set up a contest between two Fargo neighbors for one County Commission seat in November and ensured that the panel’s rural seat will remain in female hands.

The two candidates from each district who garnered the most votes in the primary will face off in the November election.

In complete but unofficial results, Rocky Schneider and Chad M. Peterson advanced in District 1 with 26 percent and 22 percent of the vote, respectively. Steven Sprague had 21 percent, Billy Nustad 18 percent and Frank E. Anderson 13 percent in District 1, which covers north Fargo.

In District 5, which covers Cass County outside of Fargo and West Fargo, Mary Scherling of Fargo garnered 25 percent of the vote and Brandy Pyle of Casselton grabbed 18 percent to advance from a field of seven candidates. Mark Weston of Fargo received 14 percent, Mike Bice of Hickson and Earl Erdmann of Alice each got 12 percent, Craig Hakanson of Horace had 11 percent and Marty Johnson of Horace had 9 percent.

Schneider, public affairs director for the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead, said he believes being a lifelong county resident and hard worker who knows the issues facing the county resonated with voters.

“I really think people are just looking for a commissioner who will listen and study up on the issues and speak honest to you about them,” he said.

Schneider said he, Peterson and Sprague all live within two blocks of each other, and he runs past their houses every day.

“I wish they were running somewhere else, because they’re both good guys,” he said.

Peterson, who owns and operates a drafting and design company and a paper company out of his home, has served on county boards for planning, governance review, parks and school reorganization over the last 11 years.

"I think enough folks recognized that volunteering my time for that long, I'm sincere," he said Wednesday morning. "I'm not just showing up."

The close race between Peterson and Sprague, Fargo’s city auditor, was finally decided around midnight.

In the District 5 race, Scherling, a veteran real estate broker, said she lives south of Fargo and understands rural needs such as roads, law enforcement and social services. She said she believes voters appreciated her efforts not to be “wishy-washy” when it comes to flood protection.

“I think we need permanent flood protection and we need it yesterday, not tomorrow, and we need to do it thoughtfully,” she said.

Pyle said she believes voters saw her as a qualified candidate after she served 6½ years as Casselton’s city auditor.

“I do know the rural areas,” she said.

Tuesday’s primary was the first step in what will be a major overhaul of the commission over the next two years.

District 1 Commissioner Scott Wagner and District 5 Commissioner Robyn Sorum both hit term limits this year after three four-year terms. Darrell Vanyo and Vern Bennett were elected in 2002, so their seats will be open in 2014.

And District 3 Commis-sioner Ken Pawluk, who was unopposed in Tues-day’s primary, is running for his third and final term.

The annual salary is $20,877, plus benefits.

District 1 totals were 5,491 votes for Schneider, 4,691 for Peterson, 4,495 for Sprague, 3,896 for Nustad, and 2,775 for Anderson.

District 5 totals were 5,129 votes for Scherling, 3,576 for Pyle, 2,806 for Weston, 2,459 for Erdmann, 2,383 for Bice, 2,205 for Hakanson and 1,778 for Johnson.