New commissioner to represent southeast OTC

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

A new county commissioner will be sworn in when the five-person county board commences business in 2023.

Robert Lahman of Parkers Prairie defeated District 4 incumbent Betty Murphy of Maine Township in the general election. Lahman had 51.4 percent of the votes and Murphy tallied 48.3 percent. The final vote count for Lahman was 2,574 compared to Murphy’s 2,419.

Incumbent Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids narrowly won reelection in District 2, defeating Jeffery Gontarek of rural Erhard. Johnson tallied 50.5 percent of the vote and Gontarek 49.2 percent. Johnson had 2,612 total votes and Gontarek had 2,546.

Another incumbent, Kurt Mortenson of rural Underwood, won the District 3 race by defeating Bradley Sunde of Fergus Falls by a wide margin. Mortenson had 70.3 percent of the vote and Sunde had 29.3 percent. In total votes, Mortenson accumulated 4,088 compared to Sunde’s 1,707.

Two county commission incumbents ran unopposed in the general election. They were Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls in District 5 and Dan Bucholz of rural Perham in District 1.

Rogness had 98.2 percent of the votes with 4,089 in District 5. Bucholz had 99.3 percent of the votes with 4,602 in District 1.

This year, due to redistricting, the incumbents in Districts 1, 3 and 5 were in the middle of their four-year terms. Winners this year, in those three districts, will be eligible to run for four-year terms in 2024. 

Candidates in Districts 2 and 4, elected this year, will be in office for four years and will be eligible to run again for four-year terms in 2026.