Williston residents elect lifelong resident next mayor

WILLISTON, N.D. – Voters here chose City Commissioner and lifelong Williston resident Howard Klug as their next mayor.

In complete but unofficial results, Klug had 76 percent of votes, while entrepreneur Marcus Jundt had 19 percent and Jim Purkey had 5 percent.

The three candidates battled to lead the rapidly growing boomtown and succeed Mayor Ward Koeser, who is retiring after 20 years.

Klug, co-owner of the El Rancho Hotel, had 2,923 votes, while Jundt, who moved to Williston three years ago to open restaurants, had 735 votes. Purkey, also a new Williston resident, had 187 votes.

More than 1,300 absentee ballots were requested in Williston for this election, said Williams County Auditor Beth Innis.

“It’s a large amount, a lot more than we’ve ever had,” Innis said.

Innis said she thinks the contested mayor’s race contributed to the increase in absentee ballot requests, as well as voters who said they didn’t want to wait in line.

Anna Denton, who moved to Williston three years ago from Alabama, voted for her first time in Williston on Tuesday. The mayor’s race and primary for state representative prompted Denton to get informed for the election.

“I care about the town,” Denton said. “This is where I want to plant my roots.”

Jake Fisketjon, a lifelong Williston resident, said the mayor’s race and the bond issue to construct a new high school brought him out to the polls Tuesday.

Fisketjon, who graduated from high school in 2010, attended classes in an old portable classroom at Williston’s Lewis and Clark Elementary. The $34 million bond issue would allow the district to relieve crowding.

“It’s tough to see our schools look like all portable modulars,” Fisketjon said.

Williston also had contested races for park board, school board and a county commission seat.

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