Johnson elected new Henning Mayor

Photo by Chad Koenen
The polls were busy throughout the day on Tuesday at the city hall in Henning as hundreds of voters headed to the ballot box. 

By Chad Koenen


The Henning School District referendum did not garner the support of voters in the school district on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The two-part question, which could have totaled approximately $27 million for building maintenance and expansion, failed to get a majority of the voters in the school district.

The first question would have allocated $21.7 million for improvements to indoor air quality, proper ventilation, updating elementary classrooms, a new high school gym floor, new staging equipment for the choir and band, changing the entrance to the back of the school to be more secure, relocating the administrative offices to the central part of the building and deferred maintenance for things like tuck pointing. 

  A total of 859 people voted against the first question, while 833 people voted in favor of the measure. 

  The second question would have spent $4.6 million to construct a new high school gym that would be used for sporting and community events, as well as more extensive updates to rest rooms and additional roof replacements.

  A total of 876 people voted against the second question, while 785 people voted in favor the measure. 

“While we are disappointed by this outcome, we respect the decision of our voters. We appreciate the community’s engagement throughout the planning process and look forward to re-engaging with residents about how to address our building’s continued needs.”

Melissa Sparks, Henning School Superintendent

According to historical records found in the Henning Advocate, this is the ninth time  that voters in the Henning School District were asked to vote on a building referendum. The vote was passed in six of those previous elections.

“The needs won’t go away, but in the meantime we can still find ways to maximize our use of space and serve our students well,” said Henning School Board Chair Reed Reinbold. “We remain committed to preparing our students for the future.”

The referendum passed in the City of Henning, Henning Township and Nidaros Township, while failing to garner a majority of support from voters in the other cities and townships that encompass the Henning School District. 

In the City of Henning the first question passed by a 266-133 margin, while the second question passed by a 257-142 margin. Henning Township passed the first question 142-87 and the second question 132-90, while Nidaros Township passed the first question 36-28 and the second question 34-29.

Other election results include (yes-no):

• Elmo Township: first question- 25-50, second question 22-52

• Folden Township: first question- 56-75, second question 57-75

• Girard Township: first question- 110-129, second question 95-138 

• Inman Township: first question- 23-60, second question- 20-58

• Leaf Lake Township: first question- 129-179, second question- 121-179

• City of Ottertail: first question- 5-11, second question- 5-11

• Otter Tail Township: first question- 30-89, second question- 30-84

• City of Vining: first question- 11-18, second question- 12-18

In addition to the school referendum, Andy Eckhoff with 1,228 votes, Matt Reinbold with 1,009 votes and Terry Oscarson with 920 votes were elected to the Henning School Board. Also receiving votes was Katie Haberer who received 748 votes. 

  In addition to the school, Robert Johnson defeated incumbent mayor Darren Wiese by a 246 to 165 margin for the position of Henning Mayor. 

  Jesse Hermanson was the top vote getter for the Henning City Council as he received 188 votes, while Mallory Loock was also elected to the city council with 181 votes. Other individuals on the ballot were Caleb Horn with 154 votes, Scott Johnson with 131 votes and Travis Nelson with 70 votes. 

In the City of Ottertail, Ron Grobeck was re-elected as mayor with 305 votes, while Jill Carlson with 231 votes and Elizabeth Augustus with 201 votes were elected to the Ottertail City Council. Judah Burlingame received 124 votes. 

  In Deer Creek, incumbent mayor Troy Beiswenger was re-elected as mayor with 81 votes, while Tom Svarvari received 19 votes. Jayme George received 78 votes and Robert Lund received 59 votes to be re-elected to the city council. 

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners will receive a new face next year as Robert Lahman unseated incumbent Betty Murphy in the newly created District 4. Lahman received 2,574 votes compared to 2,419 votes for Murphy. Lahman resides in Parkers Prairie and District 4 covers much of the southeast part of Otter Tail County.

In District 2 incumbent Wayne Johnson narrowly defeated challenger Jeffery Gontarek by a 2,612 to 2,546, while incumbent Kurt Mortenson defeated challenger Bradley Sunde by a 4,088 to 1,707 margin. 

Dan Bucholz, in District 1 and Lee Rogness in District 5, ran unopposed for election to the county board. 

Barry Fitzgibbons was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term as Otter Tail County Sheriff as he received 18,792 votes, compared to 7,427 for challenger Joey Geiszler. 

In the newly created State District 9, Republican Tom Murphy was elected to the state house in State District 9B after receiving 15,322 votes, compared to 6,431 for DFL endorsed Jason Satter.

Republican Jordan Rasmusson was elected to the state senate in District 9 after receiving 25,372 votes, compared to 11,560 for DFL endorsed Cornel Walker. There were 3,507 write-in votes for the position.