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Political newcomer Mongeau, incumbent Evert win primary race for Clay County board

Jenny Mongeau1 / 2
Jon Evert2 / 2

Mongeau, who’s never held public office, earned 39 percent of the vote.

“I think people are ready for a change and people want someone that will work hard for them,” said Mongeau, who captured 339 votes. “People are ready to have fresh ideas in the commission.”

She will face off against incumbent Jon Evert, 67, who’s served on the Clay County Board of Commissioners since 1995, in the Nov. 4 general election.

Evert had 26 percent of the vote, winning 228 votes.

The incumbent acknowledged his longevity on the board in an interview Tuesday night.

“She would be a fresh voice. There’s no question about that,” Evert said of Mongeau. “So the voters just have to decide if experience or freshness is what they need.”

While she’s never held public office, public service runs in Mongeau’s family. Her father, Matt Valan, is on Moorhead School Board, and her grandfather, Merlyn Valan, was a state representative for four terms.

Despite their political know-how, challengers Dan Langseth and Joe Pederson failed to get out of the primary round. 

Langseth, 56, whose father Keith represented Glyndon at the state Capitol for 31 years before retiring in 2012, captured 19 percent of the vote. The farmer and Elkton Township supervisor got 163 votes.

Pederson, 64, who served almost two decades as city councilman and mayor of Hawley, took 16 percent of the vote. Pederson, executive director of the Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership, captured 140 votes.

District 3 includes a southeastern part of Moorhead, and the cities of Barnesville, Sabin and Comstock.

Mongeau, who lives in Kurtz Township, said a critical issue for her district is the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion. She said she’s not against protection for the F-M metro, but said the project’s staging area would needlessly flood her neighbors.

“I feel like there’s been some rights that have been ignored and looked over, and I don’t feel like we should sacrifice fertile, sacred areas to develop in low-land areas,” Mongeau said.

Evert said he is also “very concerned” about the diversion’s impact on his district, but he said the issue is complicated with “no easy fixes.”

“We also have a responsibility to make sure that Moorhead is protected,” he said. “Moorhead is two-thirds of the population of the county so we have to consider their concerns, as well as their concerns of our community here.”

The race for Clay County’s District 4 had only two candidates and did not require a primary. Incumbent Kevin Campbell will face challenger Al Gordon in the Nov. 4 general election.

Clay County commissioners serve four-year terms, have no term limits and make an annual salary of about $27,274.

Erik Burgess
Erik Burgess covers city and county government for The Forum. He started as the paper's night reporter in 2012, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and also spent time interning at the Grand Forks Herald.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to
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