REGIONAL - Bernie Mettler, of Embarrass, and Ely’s Paul McDonald emerged as the winners of Tuesday’s primary contest for the St. Louis County Fourth District Commissioner’s seat being vacated …
REGIONAL - Bernie Mettler, of Embarrass, and Ely’s Paul McDonald emerged as the winners of Tuesday’s primary contest for the St. Louis County Fourth District Commissioner’s seat being vacated by the retirement of Tom Rukavina.
The two men will face off in the general election set for Nov. 6.
Six candidates had sought one of the two slots, including Mike Forsman Jr., Paul Kess, Daniel Manick and Christine Schlotec, in addition to McDonald and Mettler.
Kristin Larsen had filed for the election but dropped out early on.
Mettler and McDonald stood out in the crowded field, each winning over 1,900 votes, or about a quarter of the total votes cast in the sprawling Fourth District.
McDonald drew significant support in the Ely area and in pockets throughout the district where his long involvement in student athletics proved an asset. Mettler did best in Babbitt and Embarrass but drew considerable support in other parts of the district as well. Dan Manick, who polled strongly in his home region in northwestern St. Louis County, came in third with 1,233 votes.
Mike Forsman Jr. finished fourth, with 1,135 votes, while Christine Schlotec won 699 and Ely City Councilor Paul Kess claimed 498 to finish sixth. Larsen picked up 404 votes despite having left the race months ago.
“It was very satisfying to be one of the final two,” McDonald said. “I want to thank all of the people who wanted to run, it was a great run. I’m going to continue to be doing what I have, getting out and listening to the concerns of the district,” he said. “Some areas I haven’t had the time to get to yet. I want to talk about economics and roads and the opioid crisis. There are plenty of issues near and dear to the people in the county.”
McDonald, who has worked most of his life as an educator, said he and his supporters celebrated at their base of operations in Ely Tuesday night.
Down the road in Embarrass, Mettler, a former sheriff’s deputy, said he spent Tuesday home with his son, and watched the results come in during the evening.
“I am blown away by the turnout and the voters,” he said. “I am extremely happy. We’re going to keep on going. You can’t substitute a handshake and look in the eye.”
Both candidates said they haven’t stopped their campaigns for a break and have already hit the ground running with meetings and phone calls throughout the week.
McDonald said he put 18,000 miles on his minivan during the primary and expects about the same before the race is finished. Aside from that, he said the biggest challenge in the next two and a half months is going to be fitting everything in.
“When you look at the vastness of the Fourth Dystrict,” McDonald said.,“You try to get everywhere you can and knock on doors.”
Mettler echoed the sentiment and said the biggest challenge was to ensure that everyone in the district heard his message.
He added that the voters have already won the race since so many voices have been part of it so far.
“We had six people who had something good to offer,” Mettler said. “The people are going to have a wonderful opportunity to make a choice.”