Voters decide local races

Superior voters elected a new mayor -- Jim Paine -- on Tuesday. Paine, 35, vice chairman of the Douglas County Board, took 58 percent of the vote over Councilor Brent Fennessey, 34. Paine will be sworn in April 18 to finish two years of retiring ...

New Superior Mayor-Elect Jim Paine, right, opens a nameplate for his new desk outside of the Cedar Lounge in Superior on Tuesday evening. Jed Carlson /

Superior voters elected a new mayor - Jim Paine - on Tuesday.

Paine, 35, vice chairman of the Douglas County Board, took 58 percent of the vote over Councilor Brent Fennessey, 34.

Paine will be sworn in April 18 to finish two years of retiring Mayor Bruce Hagen's fifth term in the city's highest elected office. After serving a 12-year stint in office between 1975 and 1987, and being elected again in 2011, Hagen last year announced plans to retire midway through his fifth term.

Despite the gap between the election and taking office, Paine plans to hit the ground running this week by meeting with local leaders and city department heads.

"There's a lot of work to be done; I want to hit the ground running," Paine said. "So, I will be meeting with the development team this week. I will actually be having some soft meetings with other community leaders, and what I like to call visionaries. I think there's a lot of people have some great vision for this community. I want to bring some of those voices in."


Paine said when he does take office, his first priorities will be setting up a housing task force and getting to work to redevelop downtown.

"I want to set up a housing task force immediately, because I intend to take a pretty sharp change in direction in our housing policy and how we restore housing," Paine said, standing outside the Cedar Lounge on North Third Street in North End. "I want to get to work right away on developing, especially this area. This is why I had the party here. This is the prime opportunity to celebrate our culture and our assets, and I want to get to work on that immediately, especially in conjunction with the Better City project."

During the campaign, Paine talked about the North End being at the center of the Twin Ports and creating a prime opportunity for an entertainment, culture and retail experience to draw people into the city.

And Paine expects that he and Fennessey will work well together following the election.

"I think it's going to be a good working relationship," Fennessey said. "Before this election, during this election, and now after the election, I consider Jim a friend."

Fennessey said they have worked together on projects in the past and he looks forward to working with him, particularly on housing.

"I would love to be part of that in one way or another," Fennessey said.

Fennessey too planned to create task forces for housing and to drive his growth agenda for the city.


"I have nothing but respect for what Councilor Fennessey poured into this race," Paine said. "Certainly, I have tremendous admiration for the passion he has for this community."

City Council

Fennessey will continue serving as the councilor for the 5th District, one of five seats on the Council that were not on Tuesday's ballot.

Even-numbered districts were up for re-election this year.

Fennessey will be joined by two new councilors representing the 2nd and 8th Districts.

Newcomer Jenny Van Sickle, 34, in the 2nd District defeated challenger Bryce Harp, 25, with 59 percent of the vote. Van Sickle replaces Councilor Tom Fennessey who decided not to run for re-election after four years as the 2nd District representative. Tom Fennessey also served as the 8th District councilor around the turn of the 21st century. Fennessey returned to the Council as the 2nd District representative after a 12-year hiatus from city government.

Craig Sutherland, 32, president of the Billings Park Business Association, replaces four-term City Councilor Mike Herrick, 58, after taking 62 percent over the incumbent in the 8th District.

The only race that remains up in the air is the 6th District race for City Council. With one write-in vote cast in the District, incumbent Councilor Graham, 26, holds a one-vote lead over challenger Tylor Elm, 31. Elm petitioned for a recount Thursday. A recount of the ballots in the district is expected Monday.


"Regardless of the results, to be determined, both the incumbent and myself have run a race we both can be proud of," Elm posted to Facebook to thank those who encouraged him to run and supported him.

Councilors Jack Sweeney in the 4th District and Esther Dalbec in the 10th ran unopposed Tuesday.

Superior School Board

Two newcomers are joining the Superior Board of Education after defeating incumbents for the seats.

Results in the school board race will be verified Tuesday.

Laura Gapske, 33, a single mother of two boys, and forensic interviewer and trainer with First Witness Child Advocacy Center was the top vote-getter in the four-way race for two seats. She and Mary Smith-Johnson, 58, a deaf and hard-of-hearing special educator with Duluth Public Schools join the Superior School Board after defeating incumbents Mary Klun and Steven Stupak.

Douglas County towns

In Dairyland, voters chose Fran Reinhardt for town chairperson, defeating incumbent Ron Deyo with 72 percent of the vote, and town Supervisor Russell Sullivan lost his seat to Matt Holter. Supervisor Tony Stelsel held onto his seat.

Gordon voters rejected Supervisor Ted Flamang's bid for re-election but retained Supervisor Pam Boettcher. James Hankins garnered the most votes to join the Gordon Town Board.

Hawthorne voters rejected Tim White's efforts to join the Town Board, retaining Supervisors Guy Clemmer and Conrad Johnson.

Randy Markon joins the Maple Town Board as a supervisor after voters rejected Marty Laakso's bid for re-election. Jon TePoel held onto his seat.

Supervisors Jan Dalbec and Bob Zimmerman held onto their seats after voters rejected Joanne Thompson and Roger LeTourneau in the four-way race for two seats on the Superior Town Board.

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