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Minnesota Election: Kiel, Johnson keep District seats

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    District 1 and District 1B voters on Tuesday in resounding fashion sent their incumbent state legislators, District 1 State Sen. Mark Johnson and District 1B State Rep. Deb Kiel, back to St. Paul to serve for another term.

    In District 1, Johnson (R-East Grand Forks) will keep his seat for four more years after receiving 27,943 votes (10,050 from Polk County) compared to Reed Perkins (DFL-East Grand Forks) who received 12,147 votes (4,986 from Polk County.) There were 34 write-in votes with 11 of those from Polk County.

    Johnson told the Times the results were exciting and “it’s pretty fulfilling to earn that position again; I think the last four years have been a real blessing.”

    “We’ve worked hard and done some things for the district, and now, especially to have Republican control in the House, I’m sure I’ll be working closely with Deb (Kiel) and she’ll be great in whatever role she’ll have whether it’s a chair position,” Johnson explained.

    “Now that we have the House there are a couple things we need to work on, first being the Governor’s emergency powers,” he added. “What that’s going to look like after January 1, there will be a number of discussions.”

    Johnson also said that the state’s budget will be challenging and, after looking at projected deficits, they’ll have to “really change” what the budget looks like going forward.

    In District 1B, Kiel (R-Crookston) keeps her seat with the House for two more years after receiving 13,896 votes (10,696 votes in Polk County) compared to Cindy Ansbacher (DFL-Crookston) who received 5,680 votes (4,516 from Polk County.) There were 19 write-in votes with 13 of those from Polk County.

    While out with her father at a doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning, District 1B Rep. Deb Kiel returned a message from the Times saying she was thankful and appreciative of being able to continue to serve the district.

    “We will have a mixed House and Senate again, and I hope rural Minnesota will be heard,” Kiel said. “It was difficult to get out and see people this year while campaigning, which could be a called a ‘people sport’.”     

    In regards to healthcare, Kiel says she wants to do everything she can for people who have health problems but to also respect a patient’s wishes and make sure families respect those in healthcare.

    “I’ve worked with different entities needing help with COVID and I’m appalled with some of the comments by MDH (Minnesota Department of Health); it’s important to me to make sure we have what we need in northwest Minnesota,” she explained.

    Kiel also touched on the state’s budget and how cities, schools, townships, and counties will have to “tighten their belt”, and added that she hopes they can overcome challenges in the schools and get students back to class and athletes back in sports.

    “Crookston has done a good job handling everything and kudos to the teachers and parents; it’s hard as a parent and (I) hope they can be appreciative of all that happens in the classrooms,” said Kiel.

    As far as the mail-in ballots that remain to be counted, Kiel acknowledged voters who have been frustrated with mixed messages and, after speaking with Polk County Recorder Michelle Cote about the state’s lack of a “clear-cut line”, said she hopes people can understand that officials have to follow the law.

Deb Kiel
Mark Johnson