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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 07 2012

2 incumbents, 2 challengers win seats on Moorhead School Board

MOORHEAD – The Moorhead School Board has a couple of new faces, according to complete but unofficial results from Tuesday’s election.

Two incumbents and two challengers won the four seats up for election.

With the last of 29 precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, winning seats on the board were incumbent Lisa Erickson, who led the field with 17.3 percent, or 8,700 votes; challenger Matt Valan with 15.6 percent, or 7,826 votes; incumbent Cindy Fagerlie with 13.3 percent, or 6,706 votes; and challenger Scott Steffes with 13.1 percent, or 6,572 votes.

Other vote-getters were incumbents Mike Siggerud at 11.1 percent (5,552 votes) and Trudy Wilmer at 11 percent (5,523 votes), and challengers Paul Baker at 10.4 percent (5,245 votes) and John Rowell at 7.8 percent (3,901 votes), according to results posted online by the Minnesota secretary of state and Clay County auditor’s office.

There were 50,225 votes cast.

Siggerud said a couple of candidates used their name recognition in the community to good effect.

Valan, who is senior pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Moorhead, is also the son of former four-term state Rep. Merlyn Valan. Steffes is a Clay County sheriff’s deputy.

Some voters may have also been unhappy with the board’s decision to switch school start and end times this fall, he said. The move was made to give Horizon Middle School students a later starting time to see if it would improve test scores. Bus routes were also revamped to save money, though some parents complained of early glitches.

“I know there were some strong feelings on the (starting times) subject,” Siggerud said.

Erickson said she wasn’t sure if there was one issue that made the difference. After all, she was a strong advocate for changing start and stop times at Horizon Middle School.

“I just think we’re going to continue to do good business for the students at Moorhead schools,” Erickson said of the result.

Wilmer, too, was unsure of what to make of the vote, but she congratulated the winners.

“I am honored to have served on the school board for two years, and I will miss it,” Wilmer said.

Steffes said he looks forward to serving on the board.

“I’d just like to get in there and see what’s being done,” he said.

Fagerlie said the win was “awesome. I never take anything for granted.”

Valan said, “It will be an honor to serve. I’m humbled by the trust the voters placed in me.”

The school board has seven members. They are elected to four-year terms and paid $800 a month.

The board will meet to canvass this election on Tuesday, said district spokeswoman Pam Gibb.

Other members of the board are Laurie Johnson, Bill Tomhave and Kristine Thompson. The seats they hold will come up for election in 2014.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583