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N.D. Senate and House races

District 11 Democratic incumbents held on to their North Dakota Senate and House seats in District 11 races Tuesday. In complete but unofficial Senate results, Tim Mathern defeated challenger Ron Lawler with 63 percent of the votes. Mathern recei...


District 11

Democratic incumbents held on to their North Dakota Senate and House seats in District 11 races Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial Senate results, Tim Mathern defeated challenger Ron Lawler with 63 percent of the votes.

Mathern received 2,938 of the votes to Lawler's 1,699. Although Republican, Lawler ran as an Independent because the GOP failed to nominate someone earlier this year.

"I was anxious about that," Mathern said. "But the results are encouraging."


Democratic House incumbents Mary Ekstrom and Scot Kelsh edged ahead of Republican newcomers Timothy Bernstein and Caren Mikesh with 28 and 27 percent of the votes, respectively.

Kelsh led the pack in the House race with 2,446 votes, followed by Ekstrom with 2,370. Mikesh received 2,040 votes or 23 percent, while Bernstein received 1,989 votes or 22 percent.

Mathern, 52, a Democrat, has been active in the state Senate since 1986. For Kelsh, 40, this will be his third term in the House. Ekstrom, 50, will begin her second term in the House.

Although pleased with the results of his race, Mathern said he is concerned at the failure of Measure 3.

"We're going to have to figure out another way to address the issue of our youth leaving the state," he said.

District 13

Voters in North Dakota's District 13 handed Republicans a vote of confidence by re-electing two incumbents and electing one newcomer to the state Legislature.

The results were complete but unofficial with five of five precincts reporting.


Incumbent Judy Lee won her third term with 71 percent of the votes. Her challenger, Democrat Landis Larson, received 28 percent.

"It indicates to me that the people in our district are pleased with our work," Lee said. "We feel we've worked hard and tried to reflect the attitudes of our district."

Lee, 60, is a Realtor and Larson, 44, works at Case New Holland.

Incumbent Kim Koppelman secured his second term in the House with 35 percent of the vote. Republican Alon Wieland, a Cass County commissioner, will fill the seat left vacant when Rep. Laurel Thoreson decided not to run. Wieland received 32 percent of the votes.

"I think the vote reflects on the fact that those who have served have done a good job and that the voters feel I'm capable of doing the same," Wieland said.

Democrats Bonnie Sayers and John Fleming received 18 percent and 15 percent of the votes, respectively.

Koppelman, 46, owns an advertising agency; Wieland, 67, owns an appraisal business; Sayers, 37, is a freelance photographer and Fleming, 70, is retired.

Lee received 3,309 votes, Larson 1,318. Koppelman received 2,999 votes; Wieland, 2,816 votes; Sayers, 1,543 votes; and Fleming, 1,320 votes.


All the candidates live in West Fargo.

District 21

Democratic candidates swept the ballot in Fargo's District 21 legislative races.

Newcomer Steve Zaiser narrowly edged Republican incumbent Rachael Disrud for one of two House seats from the central Fargo district. Also elected to the House was incumbent Sally Sandvig while incumbent Carolyn Nelson held off a challenge from Republican challenger Jessica Lee for the Senate seat.

With all seven precincts reporting early today, Nelson had 58 percent of the vote to Lee's 42 percent. The unofficial tally was 2,066 to 1,481.

Sandvig led a tight field in the House race with 28 percent of the votes (1,845), followed by Zaiser with 25 percent (1,628), Disrud with 25 percent (1,606) and Chris Christopherson with 21 percent (1,383).

District 21 is composed of downtown Fargo and the near north and south sides of the city from the Red River west to Interstate 29.

Zaiser, a job developer for Productive Alternatives, lives at 802 7th St. S. He was making his first run for office.


"I felt my message resonated with the people," he said early Wednesday morning, moments after hearing the results. Zaiser, 51, said he ran a "low-budget, populist, door-to-door campaign" focused on good paying jobs for the state.

Nelson, 65, 1125 College St., is a senior lecturer in mathematics at North Dakota State University. She has served in both the House and the Senate.

Sandvig, 50, 201 11th St. N., won her fourth, four-year term in the Legislature.

Disrud, 60, 1106 14th St. N., was seeking a second term.

District 22

Republican incumbent Gary Lee retained his District 22 Senate seat Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Doris Anderson by a wide margin.

With 17 of 17 precincts reporting, Lee had 60 percent of the vote (3,135) to Anderson's 40 percent (2,092).

"We went out and worked hard all summer long," Lee said. "And we ran some good, positive ads."


The district's two incumbent representatives, Bill Pietsch of Casselton and Wes Belter of Leonard, are both Republicans. They were elected in 2000 and won't be up for re-election until 2004.

In the campaign, Lee stressed his experience and Anderson emphasized partisan balance.

Lee has been a state senator since August 2001, when district Republicans picked him to replace Gary Nelson, who became North Dakota's Farm Service Agency director.

Lee, 55, Casselton, said his broad experience made him the best choice. He has served on many boards, been involved in farming and serves as a MeritCare manager.

Anderson replaced the Democrats' original choice for the senate seat, Rita Halland of Tower City, who withdrew because of ill health.

Anderson, 61, Leonard, said the district, which covers most of rural Cass Country, needed a change. It has been represented only by Republicans in Bismarck in recent years.

District 27

Republicans won all three of North Dakota's District 27 legislative seats, in unofficial returns Tuesday.


In the Senate race, Richard Brown had 55 percent of the vote, Democrat Jim Lee 45 percent.

In the race for two House seats, Ron Iverson had 29 percent of the vote and Randy Boehning 26 percent. Behind them were two Democrats, Steven Kelsh with 24 percent and Michael Obach with 21 percent.

None of the six was an incumbent.

Brown said the three Republicans "campaigned together and did everything as a team. We worked hard and had a good plan."

With seven of seven precincts reporting, Brown had 1,951 votes, Lee 1,585.

In the House race, Iverson had 1,947 votes, Boehning 1,787, Kelsh 1,529 and Obach 1,334.

District 27 was added to the Fargo area this year by redistricting. It covers southwest Fargo west of Interstate 29 and a small part of West Fargo that includes Meadow Ridge, as well as Frontier, Briarwood and parts of Barnes and Stanley townships.

The candidates split along party lines on Measure 3, which state voters overwhelmingly rejected.

The three Republicans opposed it, while the three Democrats supported it.

District 41

Republican incumbents swept to victory Tuesday in Fargo's District 41.

Voters in six southwest Fargo precincts returned Sen. Tony Grindberg and Reps. Al Carlson and Bette Grande to office.

"We ran a great campaign and we got our message of a common-sense approach to government out," Grindberg said.

With all six precincts reported, unofficial results showed Grindberg capturing 69 percent of the vote while Democratic challenger Mark Folse had 31 percent. The tally was 2,477 votes to 1,123 in that race.

Carlson had 33 percent of the votes (2,245) in a four-way race for two House seats, followed by Grande with 31 percent (2,146), Democratic challenger John Iverson with 18 percent (1,280) and Democratic challenger Blake Miller with 17 percent (1,166).

Grindberg, 41, 2832 39½ Ave. S.W., has served in the Legislature since being elected to the Senate in 1992. The Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate is executive director of the North Dakota State University Research and Technology Park.

Carlson, 53, 63 Prairie Crossing, is a graduate of North Dakota State University and owns a local contracting company. He has represented District 41 since 1992.

Grande, 41, 181 Prairiewood Drive, is a substitute teacher. The University of North Dakota graduate was first elected in 1996.

Folse, Iverson and Miller were all making their first run for legislative office.

District 45

Incumbent Democrat Deb Mathern lost her seat to challenger John Syverson in the District 45 Senate race Tuesday.

Final but unofficial results showed Syverson, a Republican, with 51 percent of the votes and Mathern 49 percent.

Early Wednesday morning Mathern said she had no comment about the results. Syverson couldn't be reached for comment.

The two faced each other four years ago when Mathern won the seat by 72 votes. This time 106 votes separated the two. Syverson received 2,162 votes; Mathern had 2,056.

Mathern, 47, is president of Fargo Public Schools Credit Union. Syverson, 64, is a retired pilot.

In the race for two House Seats, incumbents Rick Berg and LeRoy Bernstein, both Republicans, will return to the Legislature. Berg received 31 percent of the votes; Bernstein, 27 percent.

Their challengers, Democrats Paul Meyers and Bob Rohla, each received 21 percent of the votes.

Berg, a House member since 1985, is 43 and a commercial real estate owner for Goldmark Commercial Corp. Bernstein, 72, has been in the House since 1989 and is the standing speaker of the House. He is retired.

Meyers, 53, is a financial consultant for Smith Barney. Rohla, 49, is the principal at Horace Mann Elementary in Fargo.

Berg received 2,460 votes; Bernstein, 2,142; Meyers, 1,683 and Rohla, 1,657.

All the candidates live in north Fargo.

Forum reporters Mary Jo Almquist, Erin Hemme-Froslie, Gerry Gilmour and Jon Knutson contributed to this story.

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