Flandreau chooses Sutton as mayor, Ekern wins Ward 1 race

Flandreau Mayor elect Dan Sutton

Flandreau’s next mayor has a list of jobs he hopes the city council tackles in the near future, but knows that a limited budget will necessitate making some choices.
Dan Sutton would like to see a comprehensive plan for the dam and bridge area of the Big Sioux River, knows there are needed investments to make in the William J. Janklow Community Center and hopes to prioritize a new fire station because local volunteers have outgrown their space. In addition, there are infrastructure needs and plans to be considered for a long-term solution to prevent flooding at the golf course.
Sutton, who previously served as the alderman from Ward 2 and will be sworn in as mayor July 6, earned 330 votes to opponent Emily Firman Pieper’s 283 votes in the city’s June 9 election. He replaces Mark Bonrud, who chose not to re-run for mayor but will run for a spot on the Moody County Commission.
In Ward 1, long-time businessman Mark Ekern walked away with a big win, getting 161 votes, compared with incumbent Don Whitman’s 31 votes and Jeff Weigel’s 29 votes.
Both Sutton and Ekern were elected to four-year terms.
Mike Fargen, who was unopposed and is new to the counsel, will take Sutton’s seat to represent Ward 2 for four year. Brad Bjerke was unopposed for his seat in Ward 3, which also is a four-year term. For the Ward 1, two-year seat, incumbent Karen Tufty was unopposed.
Voter turnout for the mayor’s race was 42 percent with 625 voters out of 1,479 voters on election day, said Karen Gundvaldson, city finance officer. In Ward 1, voter turnout was 45 percent, with 221 voters out of 493 registered voters casting a ballot.
Some ballots were not counted in specific races because they had a write-in candidate or didn’t vote in each race, for example, she said.
The election canvas board met Friday to confirm election results.
Voter turnout was strong in part because of absentee voting, which was encouraged by state and local officials as a way to avoid contact with others during the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the 625 ballots, 393 were absentee voters, while 232 people voted in person, Gundvaldson said. Six of the ballots were not able to be counted for one reason or another, she said.
The voting process at the polls, which was modified so that people kept a distance from each other, went well, she said.
Some people came in to vote who were not city residents, so they were turned away, she said. Only people who live within the city limits are allowed to vote in city elections.
Sutton said he hopes to meet with everyone on the council individually to hear what their goals are. “I think it’s important to build that coalition,” he said.
“I look forward to serving. Hopefully, we as people can come together as a community,” Sutton said.

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