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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Three of the four positions on the Colfax Village Board coming up for election in April will not have candidates on the ballot, including the position of village president.
The village trustee positions currently held by Margaret Burcham, Logan Michels and Anne Jenson, as well as the position held by Scott Gunnufson, village president, will be on the ballot April 6.
Burcham was the only candidate to turn in nomination papers by the January 5 deadline, reported Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
Burcham, who had previously served several terms on the village board after being elected to the position, lost the election in April of 2020 but was subsequently appointed to the village board to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Keith Burcham, who resigned from the village board last spring.
In a letter to the village board, Keith Burcham said he was resigning after the COVID-19 pandemic started because his hearing impairment made it difficult to hear other village board members when village board meetings were conducted by the online platform Zoom.
The online platform also made it more difficult for Burcham to read the lips of the other village board members, adding to his difficulty in understanding the business at hand, he said.
Gunnufson, Michels and Jenson all turned in declarations of non-candidacy by the deadline at the end of December, which is the second Friday preceding the last day nomination papers can be circulated.
Candidates were allowed to circulate nomination papers from December 1 until January 5.
Gunnufson submitted a statement to the Colfax Messenger in which he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve as village president.
“With extreme gratitude for the opportunity of serving my community for three terms, I look to take on a new chapter and will not be going for re-election,” Gunnufson wrote.
“Over the past several years, I can’t say enough good things about the board I had the great opportunity to lead and learn from. I am confident they will remain to have the Village’s best interest in supporting our people and our businesses. I expect this transition of a new Village President to be smooth and hopefully bring a new chapter in someone else’s life as it had done for me,” he said.
Gunnufson expressed his appreciation for “everyone that works for the Village for the amazing job you do each and every day and your devotion to make the Village of Colfax feel like home.”
Gunnufson said he was especially appreciative of Lynn Niggemann “for her outgoing attitude, her leadership and for always keeping us organized. Without Lynn, it would have made my time on the board, and for many others I’m sure, much more difficult.”
Jenson said she had decided not to run for re-election to the village board for the sake of her business, A Little Slice of Italy.
Many restaurants are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic that the world has been dealing with for the past year.
“To be honest, I’m not running because of my business. I can’t really afford to take the time off and pay someone to work for me every meeting, or the other option is to close on those Monday nights and possibly miss out on business that may have wanted to come in. And after this past year, things are really tight. I really enjoyed being part of the village board, but I have to think of my business,” Jenson said.
“And — as I have experienced many times in the past years — if I don’t agree with one side, or choose to vote another way, I lose business. They say, and I have personally heard (people say this who are sitting) behind me at meetings, ‘That’s the last pizza I buy there,’” she said.
Jenson has served on the Colfax Village Board for nearly 10 years.
The Colfax Village Board appointed Logan Michels to fill the vacant village trustee position created by the resignation of Chad Berge in December of 2019.
Berge resigned because he and his family had purchased a home outside of the village limits, making him ineligible to serve on the village board.
Michels, who has been a resident of Colfax for most of his life, had expressed interest in becoming more involved in the community and had been recently appointed to the Colfax Plan Commission at the time he was appointed to the village board.
Michels said a variety of factors went into his decision not to run for election in April.
For one thing, spring and summer are a busy time at work, with Mondays being especially busy, and Michels said he does not believe he is as prepared for the village board meetings at times as he could be or should be.
Michels said he has observed some opportunities for improvement in the village, too, and has identified some problems that could be tackled, but again, does not believe he has enough time or energy to follow through with research to figure out how to make the best of the opportunities or how to solve the problems.
“I have learned a lot, and it was a good experience,” he said.
“All of those who are serving on the board are great to work with, and they are doing some good work. I would be open to running for another term at a later date,” Michels said.
In addition to Gunnufson, Burcham, Jenson and Michels, the Colfax Village Board includes trustees Carey Davis, Mark Halpin and Gary Stene.
Davis, Halpin and Stene will be up for re-election in 2022.
Colfax school board
Two incumbents on the Colfax Board of Education, Ken Neuburg and Kyle Knutson, have filed nomination papers for the April election.
No other candidates filed nomination papers.
Neuburg currently serves as vice-president of the school board, and Knutson serves as the treasurer.
EM village board
Four people have filed nomination papers for four positions on the Elk Mound Village Board in the April election.
Incumbent village trustees Terry Stamm, Jesse Jenson, and Deborah Creaser-Kipp, as well as Steve Abraham, village president, filed nomination papers by the January 5 deadline.
In addition to Abraham, Creaser-Kipp, Jenson and Stamm, village trustees Cynthia Abraham, Greg Kipp and Paula Turner serve on the Elk Mound Village Board.
EM school board
Four candidates have filed nomination papers for two positions on the Elk Mound Board of Education in the April election.
Incumbent school board members Mark G. Oas and Gary Bodenburg filed nomination papers by the January 5 deadline along with challengers Mark Levra and Michael Jenson Jr.
Levra serves as the Director of Public Works for the Village of Elk Mound.
Jenson ran as a candidate for the school board in the April election in 2020 and lost by two votes.
Incumbent Tim Sivertson gathered 839 votes, and Jenson tallied 837.
In addition to Bodenburg and Oas, the Elk Mound Board of Education includes Loren Hanson, Mark Cedarblade, Patrick Rhude, Sivertson and Kyle Jenson.