Hotly contested commissioners race to lead off Oct. 6 forum

The Elk River Area Citizens League will host its second and final candidates forum Saturday, Oct. 6 at Elk River City Hall.

It will feature several races, including one for the hotly contested Sherburne County Board of Commissioners race between incumbent Larry Farber and former Sheriff Bruce Anderson.

District 1 and 3 commissioner candidates (Farber and Anderson  as well as John Riebel and Roland “Rollie” Lange) will square off between 8:20 and 9:45 a.m. Minnesota House District 30A candidates Nick Zerwas and Holly Neuman will square off between 9:55 and 10:40 a.m. Senate 30 candidates Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, and Paul Perovich will square off between 10:50 and 11:35 a.m.

Sixth District candidates Jim Graves and Michele Bachmann have been invited to square off between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Farber challenged the Citizens League’s plans this past week to have two of Anderson’s campaign managers involved in the moderating and running of the event.

Citizens League members Peter Kimball, Farber’s 2008 challenger for the Sherburne County Board seat he now holds, and Charlie Blesener are listed as two of Anderson’s four campaign co-chairs, and they have been involved in the planning of the Oct. 6 forum. These long-standing Citizens League members were among eight individuals who came up with the questions that will be asked  of the candidates.

“It doesn’t look right,” Farber told the Star News after questioning a Citizens League member about the matter.

Farber said folks on the county board are asked to recuse themselves from the silliest things to avoid the appearances of a conflict of interest.

“This (forum) is not a silly little thing,” Farber said. “It’s a big deal.”

Members of the Citizens League assured Farber candidates would be treated fairly, and after being pressed on the matter agreed that candidates in the county races for Districts 1 and 3 would be able to receive the league’s five questions before the forum.

Kimball said he didn’t see Farber’s concern as legitimate.

“I wouldn’t jump the gun in a situation like this,” Kimball said of Farber’s challenge. “If, during the course of the forum you thought one person had an unfair advantage, I would have a complaint then.

“It’s a small town and a lot of us wear more than one hat. We have to realize what people’s long-term reputations are. You expect them to be fair, and if they’re not, then you have a complaint.”

He and two other league members did agree, however, to supply the questions to appease Farber.