Johnson, Gontarek advance to general election

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Now that the primary election is over, the field of county board candidates for the general election in November is set.

On Aug. 9 incumbent District 2 Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids was the top primary vote getter among five candidates. Johnson will now face the second-place place winner, Jeffery Mark Gontarek of rural Erhard, in the Nov. 8 general election.

District 1 incumbent Dan Buchholz of rural Perham and District 5 incumbent Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls are running unopposed in the general election. 

Other general election opponents Nov. 8 will be District 3 incumbent Kurt Mortenson of rural Underwood and Bradley Sunde. District 4 incumbent Betty Murphy of Maine Township will be opposed by Robert Lahman.

Elections in all five county board districts take place this year, in light of recent redistricting and new maps of the districts in Otter Tail County.

This year, in the 2022 general election, candidates in County Board of Commissioner Districts 2 and 4 are running for 4-year terms. In the 2024 general election, candidates in Districts 1, 3 and 5 will run for 4-year terms.

More about county board of Commissioners

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners meetings are available for viewing via live stream at

The next county board meeting is 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

The county board is governed by state statutes. In January each year the board elects a chairperson and sets regular meeting dates for the five-member county board of commissioners.

The commissioners are responsible for examining and setting budgets, policies and numerous other county business.

The entire budget for 2022 is approximately $137 million.

Close to 34 percent of the county budget is funded with property tax dollars. The additional needed funding comes from the state and federal governments for budget items such as county road maintenance and county human services.

County taxpayers, in certain areas, also pay for Community Development Agencies, Housing and Redevelopment Associations and Lake Improvement Districts.