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Wadena council members, mayor seek reelection

Wadena's mayor and two city council members have decided to seek reelection. And so far, they face no competition.

Mayor Wayne Wolden and Councilwoman Jeanette Baymler filed affidavits of candidacy July 29, the first day of the filing period. Councilman Toby Pierce followed suit on Monday. The three incumbents boast nearly a half century of combined experience on the Wadena City Council.

As of Monday, no one had filed to run in the special election for the final two years of Brian Hillesland's term. Hillesland resigned in July, 18 months into his tenure, because he's moving to a home in the countryside.

There's still time to become a candidate in the Nov. 4 election. Just submit a form at city hall along with a $2 filing fee by next Tuesday, when the filing period ends. Candidates must be 18 or older and Wadena residents.

Wolden, the business manager for M State, served five years on the council - from 1992 to 1997 - but chose to run for state legislature instead of seeking reelection. He returned to city government two years later, succeeding Jan Tubandt as Wadena mayor, a position he's been reelected to seven consecutive times.

Why run for a ninth two-year term?

"I love the town," Wolden said Friday. "I love the work."

Helping keep Homecrest Industries in Wadena and the downtown improvement project are two highlights of his tenure, the mayor said, but he's most proud of the way the community has recovered since the 2010 tornado.

"The new school, wellness center, fairgrounds, ice arena, businesses and homes rebuilt are an indicator of Wadena's resilience and strength as a community," Wolden said.

Baymler joined the council the same day Wolden became mayor. In an interview Friday, she said a main reason she's seeking a fifth four-year term is to "see the wellness center come to fruition."

"If that hadn't been hanging out there, I may not have filed again," Baymler said. "It's a pretty big event for the city of Wadena."

As the council member with the most experience, Baymler serves as vice mayor.

"I think I've done a relatively good job for the people of Wadena," she said.

Pierce, the owner of an independent insurance agency, first joined the council in February of 1995, when he was appointed to complete the remaining 23 months of a resigning council member's term. He won the 1996 election, but lost a reelection bid four years later. Voters returned Pierce to the council in the 2006 and 2010 elections.

He said the main reason he filed for reelection is because the council needs members with experience, particularly when it comes to the budget process.

"That's really important," Pierce said. "And believe it or not, I actually enjoy it ... I'm semi-retired and I have more time, so that helps, too."