WTIP file photo

Special election this week for District 1 commissioner

After the November 2020 elections took center stage in the political world from Washington D.C. to Grand Marais, some Cook County residents will once again have their votes counted this week in a special election for the county board.

Ballots for the special election to determine who will be the next District 1 Cook County Commissioner will be counted Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Two candidates are on the ballot: Paula Marie Powell and Bob Svaelson.

WTIP will follow the results of the election closely Tuesday night. Cook County Auditor Braidy Powers told WTIP to expect the results of Tuesday’s election by that evening. The polls close at 8 p.m. The county is not required to post the results of the special election on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, which is the usual platform WTIP and most Minnesota voters utilize to track election results. Powers said the county will post the election results on the county’s website at some point next week. WTIP will post the results on this website and read the results on the air Wednesday, Feb. 10. The winning candidate will also appear live on the Daybreak program that morning (Feb. 10) at approximately 7:20 a.m.

The next commissioner for District 1 will be sworn in during a special meeting Thursday, Feb. 11.

In June, now former District 1 Cook County Commissioner Bobby Deschampe won an election to be the next chairperson for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. After doing so he resigned his seat on the county board.

Deschampe’s term on the county board did not expire until 2022, which meant there needed to be a special election to fill the vacant seat for District 1.

There will be three new commissioners on the county board after the winning candidate from this week’s election is sworn in. Either Powell or Svaelson will join Ann Sullivan and Stacey Hawkins as new commissioners in 2021.

Both Powell and Svaelson recently joined Sullivan and Hawkins in a virtual training hosted by the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC). Newly elected officials across Minnesota, in addition to other county staff and current commissioners often attend AMC trainings throughout the year. This particular training cost $100 per person to attend, Powers told WTIP. The first two of four sessions for this particular training were in late January, weeks before the election. Therefore, both Powell and Svaelson attended the first sessions while only one will complete the course.

Just days ahead of the special election, WTIP followed up with Powell and Svaelson to learn more about the AMC training and to hear from the candidates during the final stretch of the election. Listen to the audio below to hear from each candidate.