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Bergquist ready for new job

Bill Bergquist got a taste Wednesday of what it will be like to be Clay County Sheriff. A close election race Tuesday against Clay County Deputy Bryan Green kept Bergquist up until 4 a.m.

Bill Bergquist

Bill Bergquist got a taste Wednesday of what it will be like to be Clay County Sheriff.

A close election race Tuesday against Clay County Deputy Bryan Green kept Bergquist up until 4 a.m. Two hours later, his phone began ringing.

"The first call of congratulations came at 6:30 a.m.," the Moorhead DARE officer said.

Bergquist realizes late nights and early morning phone calls will be a regular part of his new job -- one that means managing a staff of 90 full- and part-time employees and a $4.5 million annual budget.

Nontheless, Bergquist said he feels up to the task and has already met with interim sheriff Craig Baker about the duties he will assume in January.


"There might be some things I have to learn, but I think they feel I can do the job," Bergquist said of his fellow sheriff's department employees.

Bergquist and Green were in a dead heat late Tuesday, with Green capturing much of the western part of Clay County.

Bergquist began to pull ahead early Wednesday when Moorhead's 12 precincts were counted, giving him 7,031 or 61 percent of the 11,458 votes cast in the city.

Bergquist also swept Barnesville's three precincts, Dilworth and Oakport Township, collecting 1,695 or 59 percent of the 2,872 votes in those areas.

"If I didn't have to concentrate so much in Moorhead I could have spent more time in the county," Green said Wednesday. "I just ran out of time."

Green said both candidates ran a clean campaign and worked hard to win voters.

"I gave it my best effort," he said. "It is pretty tough to beat that name recognition. He (Bergquist) has been a DARE officer for 12 years."

Bergquist said he doesn't plan to make any dramatic changes when he takes office and wants to take time getting to know the department's employees.


"I want them to feel they get some input on what's going to be happening," he said.

Former Sheriff Larry Costello said Wednesday the county was in a win-win situation Tuesday.

"Both of those guys were going to do a good job for the county," he said.

Costello, who was sheriff for 11 years before he took medical disability in May, said he will make himself available to Bergquist if he needs help.

He had only one piece of advice for Bergquist.

"He has to communicate with the (Clay County Commission) but keep the position independent from them," Costello said. "That's why the sheriff is elected."

Ben Brunsvold, who was re-elected to a second term on the Clay County Commission Tuesday, felt Bergquist was the right guy.

"I think any other time that Bryan Green would be an excellent sheriff," he said. "But given the history, I think it is to our advantage that we start fresh, and I think that's what Bill represents."


The months leading up to Costello's retirement were marred in controversy.

Costello is accused of using county funds to purchase six two-way radios late last fall, two of which he gave to Green.

Costello has denied the charge, stating that he often purchased items through the county and reimbursed the expenses from his personal checking account.

Green has said he thought the radios were gifts and didn't know how the radios were paid for. He was never investigated for any wrongdoing.

Green said it is too early to begin thinking about making another run for the position in four years.

He said he called Bergquist and congratulated him early Wednesday.

"I told him I supported him and that we will be working together," Green said. "I think he will be alright."

The position pays a minimum $63,967 annually.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Baird at (701) 241-5535

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