Sauk Centre voters approved a city-wide sales tax to fund Highway 71 improvements Tuesday. The half-cent sales tax was approved by a vote of 804 in favor to 746 opposed.. This was the second time the tax was put forward on the ballot, having been voted down in 2016.

“I’m glad that it passed, and we can start planning,” said Vicki Willer, Sauk Centre City Administrator. “It’s a good opportunity for the council to start putting money aside for this project.”

Brad Kirckof, Margy Umhoefer, Shane DeFoe and Ann Hess will take seats on the Sauk Centre School Board in January. Kirckof received 2,095 votes, Umhoefer received 1,891 votes,  DeFoe received 1,855 votes and write-in candidate Hess received 224 votes.

For the two open positions on Sauk Centre City Council, Heidi Leach received 1,329 votes, the second position went to write-in candidate Joe Fuechtmann with 139 votes.

Steve Soyka will be Stearns County’s next sheriff. Soyka won with 56 percent of the vote over Dave Bentrud’s 42 percent.

Paul Anderson was elected to Minnesota House of Representatives District 12B. Anderson won by a wide margin, receiving 6,912 votes in Stearns County to Ben Schirmers 2,331. In the state overall, Anderson earned 12,219 to Schirmers’s 4,894. 

In the state’s gubernatorial race, Stearns County voted for Jeff Johnson and Donna Bergstrom over Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan 55 percent to 40 percent, respectively. However, the statewide vote gave Walz 53.48 percent over Johnson’s 42.42 percent. Walz and Flanagan will lead the state as Minnesota Governor and Lieutenant Governor. 

In federal elections, the Stearns County voter call might have been close for Jim Newberger and Amy Klobuchar – both coming in at 48 percent – but Klobuchar carried the votes statewide with 60.31 percent to Newberger’s 36.21 percent. For the senator special election, the statewide vote flipped the Stearns County vote. In Stearns County, Karin Housley received 54 percent to Tina Smith’s 40 percent, but Smith took 52.97 percent statewide to Housley’s 42.35 percent.

Voter turnout in Sauk Centre declined from the 2016 presidential election from 1,829 ballots cast to 1,630, about 70 percent of the 2,338 voters who had registered by 7 a.m. on Election Day.

DeFoe, Hess fill open school board seats

As the results rolled in for school board candidates, Ann Hess could not believe her eyes.

“Holy cow,” Hess said when she heard about the results. “I thought if I could get 200 votes, I would be thrilled.” 

Hess ran as a write-in candidate for the vacant school board seat after encouragement from the community and a push to meet the local need. She is looking forward to learning and giving back to her community.

“I’m going to try to make the best decisions to help make our school a better place,” Hess said. 

Shane DeFoe filled another empty seat for District 743, and will be serving his first term along with Hess.