WEST FARGO – After just 22 votes separated two candidates, an incumbent was left surprised and without a seat on the West Fargo Park Board.
Challengers Chris Heise and Jake Lauritsen and incumbent Jeff McCracken won the three open seats during the election Tuesday, June 12, leaving incumbent Ken Zetocha without a seat.
Heise earned 29.4 percent of the vote. Lauritsen had 23.8 percent, McCracken had 23.42 percent, and Zetocha collected 23.15 percent, with all 10 precincts reporting in unofficial results. Heise had the most votes with 2,412, Lauritsen finished with 1,952 votes, McCracken had 1,921 votes, and Zetocha ended with 1,899 votes.
This isn’t the first tight park board race for Heise. He lost by just 56 votes in a write-in campaign for a seat in 2014.
“I’m just humble to see that,” Heise said. “It was a tough race because all four of us are from West Fargo and all four deserve that spot.”
Lauritsen said he expected a dogfight and was grateful for his supporters.
“There’s nothing more humbling than asking your peers to come and vote for you and to show them you work hard, and I had to earn their vote,” he said.
McCracken’s first bid for election was in 2010 when he won Zetocha’s seat. He was re-elected to a second term in 2014. McCracken initially thought he had lost, but then he started getting messages celebrating his victory.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t understand. Besides being confused, of course I’m excited,” McCracken said. “I just figured I lost. And I had no interest in asking for a recount. That’s just how it was, and I was fine with that. But it’s very exciting to win too. I’m still quite shocked.”
Zetocha wasn’t sure what to make of the results after initially thinking he had won. He didn’t rule out the possibility of a recount.
“I’ve been getting texts of congratulations from people and obviously something has happened,” Zetocha said. “If it happens, it happens. I’ve been around for too long and been through too many situations. It’s not a life or death thing.”