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Unusual First District race among primary battles

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Unusual First District race among primary battles
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Farmington has no local primary races, but there is still reason for voters to cast their ballots Aug. 10. Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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There is a race for one of the 1st District judges' position, currently held by Timothy Blakely. Stephen Baker and Larry Clark are challenging him.

And, of course, there is the Minnesota governor's race. While each of the major political party has endorsed candidates, they are being challenged.

Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza and Peter Idusogie are challenging endorsed Democratic candidate Margaret Anderson Keliher.

The endorsed Republican candidate, Tom Emmer, faces opposition from Ole Savior, Leslie Davis and Bob Carney Jr.

Rob Hahn, Phil Rattee, Rahn Workcuff and John Uldrich are challenging the Independence Party endorsed candidate, Tom Horner.

In Dakota County there are three primary races, including one for the commissioner seat currently held by Nancy Shouweiler. She faces challenges from Linda Appel and Bill Klein. The other two county races are both for the positions on the soil and water conservation board. In District 2 the candidates are Anthony Nelson, Dan Kuykendall, Jason Swenson and Doug Tipka; and in District 1, the candidates are Diane Blake, Scott Holm, John Ross and Thomas Willenbring.

Other candidates for county races are: Kathleen Gaylord and Molly Park, commissioner District 2; Paul Krause, District 6; Dave Bellows and Mitch Scott, sheriff; and James Backstrom, attorney. Filing for the soil and water conservation District 3 was incumbent Kevin Chamberlain.

The 1st Judicial District, incumbents who have filed without opposition are Thomas Poch, Michael Baxter, Timothy McManus, Rex Stacey, Philip Kanning, Richard Spicer, Patrice Sutherland, Caroline Lennon, Kevin Mark, Janet Cain, Jerome Abrams, Martha Simonett and Tim Wermager.

Judge's race unusual

Having any kind of a primary race for a judge's seat is unusual. This seat in District 1, which covers Dakota, Goodhue LeSueur, McCloud, Scott and Sibley counties has generated publicity.

The Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Blakely last year for his conduct while serving on the bench. He has been a 1st District judge for 11 years and has 17 years as a combined trial attorney, judge and adjunct professor of law. He earned his law degree from Hamline University School of Law. He has been admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and all levels of the Minnesota courts. He is retired from the Navy.

In his filing statement, Blakely did not comment on his suspension/ reprimand by the Supreme Court.

Baker has a 23-year career with state and federal trial and appellate experience in Minnesota and Florida. He is the recipient of the 1st District's pro bono service award from the Minnesota Bar Association and has served on a wide variety of volunteer boards and committees, including those aimed at combating domestic violence. He has been a member of the Criminal Justice System DWI Task Force since 1997 and has been a volunteer arbitrator for the Minnesota and North Dakota Better Business Bureau for more than 10 years.

A 21-year member of the Dakota County Attorney's office, Clark has been one of the office's major criminal prosecutors. He has handled major crimes including murder, criminal sexual conduct, felony assault and robbery. In 1998, he was the co-recipient of the Prosecutor of the Year award, given by the International Association of Arson Investigators.

Clark earned his law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul and was employed at a small law firm in Ellsworth, Wis., for five years. He and his wife returned to Minnesota and have lived here since that time.

As part of his job with the Dakota County Attorney's Office, Clark is involved in providing training to various groups, including police officers and sexual assault advocates.

Clark said he filed for the position because Judge Blakely has failed to live up to the trust placed in him by the people of the 1st Judicial District. He noted that the Supreme Court suspended Blakely for six months because of his conduct on the bench; Judge Blakely accepted a $63,000 reduction in fees he owed to his divorce attorney, in exchange for referrals he would make to that lawyer's firm.

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Nathan Hansen
Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
(651) 460-6606
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