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Voters give Crookston City Council a new, and a familiar look

Mike Christopherson and Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    When it comes to voters having their say in the 2020 election on the four Crookston City Council seats up for grabs, it could be characterized that they said, at least partially, that it’s out with the old and in with the new, and it’s also in with a another new face who is very familiar in City of Crookston government.

    The biggest developments were two council members, Ward 1’s Jake Fee and At Large member Bobby Baird – both elected in 2016 – losing their bids for a second term. Kristie Jerde defeated Fee in Ward 1, 298 votes to 182, and Melbye defeated Baird, 1,391 votes to 989, and also outpaced second at-large challenger, Morgan Hibma, who garnered 623 votes.

    “First, congratulations to Clayton, Joe and Wayne and everyone who ran. It takes a lot of courage and tenacity to run for office,” Jerde tells the Times. “Second, I want to thank everyone who supported and voted for me. I will work hard to support and represent my ward and the city. I will advocate for financial growth and opportunities for this great city.

    "Last,” she continued, “I look forward to starting my position and will work on options for listening sessions in the near future.”

    Melbye is no stranger to City government. He served several terms as a Ward 4 council member before being elected to an at-large seat, and then he was appointed mayor. He didn’t seek another term in 2018, but after a two-year “hiatus” he said he wanted to be involved with the council again.

    “I’m really looking forward to getting back on the council and moving forward,” Melbye tells the Times. “It looks pretty exciting (with a) couple different faces and hopefully we can move in the right direction.”

    In the tightest race for city council, in Ward 3, incumbent Clayton Briggs held off challenger Blake Royal, 261 votes to Royal’s 234.

    “I’m glad of the results and look forward to continuing to do my best for the city of Crookston and moving forward to the future,” Briggs tells the Times. “I greatly appreciated everyone who voted for me and who got out to vote.”

    In Ward 5, Joe Kresl, who was appointed to the vacant seat several months ago after Dale Stainbrook became mayor, sought a full term and was successful, holding off Casey Anderson, 243 to 192. Marc Palmer also ran for the Ward 5 seat and garnered 54 votes.

    “Thank you to all those who voted for me and I’m looking forward to continue serving Ward 5 and the city of Crookston,” Kresl tells the Times.

    The Times reached out to Jerde for her reaction to her election but hadn’t heard back from her by print deadline on Wednesday.


    Polk County Recorder Michelle Cote and Election Official Sam Melbye tell the Times that mail-in ballots for local races will still be accepted and counted through Nov. 10 as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. As of Oct. 16, there were 3,641 registered voters in the city of Crookston which does not count anyone registered after that date or those who registered the day of the election. There was a total of 3,011 votes accounted for Tuesday for the Crookston City Council races, meaning the final numbers could change should a number of mail-in ballots arrive between now and Nov. 10. The differences between the mid-October registered voters and votes accounted for as of Tuesday are: At-Large - 630, Ward 1 - 103, Ward 3 - 144, and Ward 5 - 81.        

    This does not mean the projected winners of each council race will change, but it cannot be ruled out should a number of mail-in ballots arrive before Nov. 10. The Times did not receive the number of registered voters for the Crookston School District or Polk County Commissioner districts to determine those differences.

Kristie Jerde
Wayne Melbye
Clayton Briggs
Joe Kresl