Voters reelect 2 to Cass County Commission, while Kapitan upsets incumbent Pawluk

Three challengers in three districts sought to unseat commissioners running to fulfill their third terms.

FSA election 2020 art.jpg

FARGO — The 2020 ballot for Cass County Commission seats was a pattern of threes, with three challengers in three districts running to unseat commissioners who were seeking to fulfill their third terms, but only one challenger was successful.

In District 3, challenger Jim Kapitan appeared to have unseated incumbent Ken Pawluk, who was appointed in 2019 to the vacant District 3 seat after the passing of Vern Bennett. As of press time, Kapitan received 54 percent of the 68,569 votes counted compared to Pawluk's 45 percent.

In District 1, incumbent Chad Peterson gained an edge over challenger Lydia Tackett. Peterson won the district with 54 percent of the 69,957 votes counted and Tackett received 45 percent of those votes counted as of press time.

In District 5, incumbent Mary Scherling easily fended off challenger Marty Johnson, with Scherling receiving 63 percent of the 68,508 votes counted and Johnson receiving 37 percent.


Ken Pawluk.jpg
Ken Pawluk. Special to The Forum

Jim Kapitan.jpg
Jim Kapitan. Special to The Forum

Pawluk, who is currently employed as a property manager, served three terms on the board until December 2016. He was then appointed to serve the remainder of Bennett's term last year. Kapitan is a former city department head and airport director. He is also a retired Air National Guard colonel, at one point commanding the 119th Security Police Squadron.

District 3 primarily encompasses the area south of Interstate 94 and east of 45th Street South in Fargo.

Lydia Tackett.jpg
Lydia Tackett. Special to The Forum

Chad Peterson
Chad Peterson. Special to The Forum

Newcomer Tackett is a geologist and educator in Fargo. She hoped to unseat Peterson in District 1, who is the current commission chairperson. His portfolios include finance, tax assessor, recorder, information technology and county administrator. District 1 includes most of north Fargo and rural northern areas.


In District 5, Scherling was first elected commission in 2012 and has served as board president as well as representing Cass County on the FM Diversion Board of Authority and is the chairperson of the Red River Basin Commission. She also serves on a number of other boards, including the Fargo Planning Commission.

Mary Scherling
Mary Scherling. Special to The Forum

Marty Johnson. Special to The Forum

Johnson, her challenger, has been an outspoken opponent of the diversion. He and his family's nearly 125-year-old farmhouse just south of Horace and surrounding farmland is directly in the path of the current diversion plan, and the house will likely need to be moved or torn down.

District 5 includes most of rural Cass County.

Cass County Commissioners are elected by district for a four-year term and are paid $22,464 annually.

Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum.
What To Read Next
Get Local