WILLMAR -- Last week, when Kandiyohi County Commissioner Richard Falk got an inkling that his bid for a fourth term in office might be on the line, he invited his competitor to come to this week's County Board meeting to meet the county staff and other elected officials.
So, one day after being defeated by Jim Butterfield, Falk welcomed his successor to Wednesday's meeting.
"Congratulations," said Falk with a broad smile as he reached out a hand to an appreciative Butterfield.
Falk, who has represented a large section of Willmar on the County Board for the last 12 years, was defeated by a 203-vote margin in the general election Tuesday.
Butterfield had 1,570 votes and Falk had 1,367 votes.
"I just felt maybe a week ago that it was going to be a close race. So it was a surprise but it wasn't," said Falk.
This was Butterfield's first shot at running for an elected office.
"I didn't sign up to lose," said Butterfield, adding that he was very pleased with the outcome.
"I would like to thank Mr. Falk for his 12 years of service. He's been a very good commissioner," said Butterfield. "To try to run a campaign against a gentleman who's done nothing wrong is very difficult, except for the fact that we wanted to put a new set of eyes on something."
Butterfield, who is director of sales at Peart Associates, said he began watching the County Board meetings on the local cable channel in June, but Wednesday was the first time he had ever attended a meeting.
"I think I can do the job. I know there's a lot that I have to learn," said Butterfield. "I'm willing to learn and I believe I can learn very quickly."
Falk, who will hold his chairmanship position until the end of December, said he will miss the job but is proud of the contributions he has made over the years.
Among his accomplishments, Falk listed expanding the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, pushing for increased recycling of plastics, keeping a tight eye on the budget, making the County Attorney's office a full-time position and helping to launch the joint Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
He said he's disappointed his efforts to merge the city and county's assessor's office have been sidelined by the city, but Wednesday appointed a commissioner to work with the city on a proposal for a joint city and county housing and redevelopment authority.
Falk said he's enjoyed his tenure on the County Board.
"I work with some nice guys," he said "We don't always agree, but when the vote is over, it's over. If you look at the (Willmar) City Council and compare that with the county, it's night and day. And that's one of the reasons why the county runs so smooth."
Madsen and Shuck re-elected
WILLMAR -- Incumbent Kandiyohi County Commissioners Harlan Madsen and Dean Shuck were re-elected to four more years on the County Board.
Madsen, of Lake Lillian, defeated challenger John Cunningham, of Atwater, by a 678-vote margin earning 60 percent of the votes cast.
Madsen had 1,968 votes and Cunningham had 1,290 votes.
Madsen represents district 5, which includes the cities of Kandiyohi, Atwater, Lake Lillian, Blomkest and the southern townships of East Lake Lillian, Lake Elizabeth, Fahlun, Gennesse, Edwards, Lake Lillian, Roseland, Holland, Whitefield, Harrison and Kandiyohi.
This will be Madsen's fifth term in office.
Shuck, of Sunburg, received 54 percent of the votes in District 3 to defeat his challenger, Doug Lindblad, of Willmar.
Shuck had 2,163 votes and Lindblad had 1,816 votes, for a difference of 347 votes.
Shuck represents District 3, which includes the Pheasant Run and Eagles Landing areas of Willmar, the towns of Pennock and Sunburg and the following townships: Arctander, Colfax, Dovre, Mamre, Lake Andrew, Norway Lake and St. Johns.
This will be Shuck's third term in office.