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Primary vote sets stage for change in county government

Voters in Commissioner Districts 3 and 5 went to the polls Tuesday and set the stage for what could prove to be a closely watched general election. Ten candidates vied for two commissioner spots on the Aug. 10 primary ballot.

Three-term incumbent Bob Fenwick was defeated by county board newcomers Lloyd Speck and Grand Marais Mayor Sue Hakes. Hakes and Speck will face each other for the District 3 seat.

District 5 Commissioner Bruce Martinson will be challenged by Lutsen Town Board Supervisor Diane Parker. Tofte Town Board Chair Paul James lost to Parker by 30 votes.

District 1 did not factor into the primary. Commissioner Jan Hall will face Bill Hennessey, former county attorney, in November.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said more than 580,000 eligible voters participated in Minnesota's first August primary. Ritchie indicated that the percentage of voters casting ballots was more than 15 percent of Minnesota's eligible voter population of 3.8 million.  That figure includes a record number of absentee ballots, over 31,000.

Cook County had a 50 percent voter turnout with 1,776 people casting primary ballots out of a total 3,535 registered voters.

See a breakdown of local votes by area put together by the county