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Matt in the hat

julie buntjer/daily globe Nobles County Board of Commissioners candidates (from left) Robert Paplow and Matthew Widboom await the name drawing conducted Friday morning by Nobles County Auditor/Treasurer Sharon Balster and Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh.

WORTHINGTON -- Matthew Widboom's name was drawn from a hat in a 10 a.m. meeting of the Nobles County Canvassing Board Friday to break a tie in the District 3 Commissioner race and send one man forward to face incumbent David Benson in November's general election.

Both Widboom and challenger Robert Paplow garnered 100 votes each in Tuesday's Primary election, with Benson earning 155 votes.

According to state statute, the county was required to break the tie by "lot." Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz recommended on Wednesday that the tie be broken by drawing a name from a hat.

After reviewing canvassing board procedures Friday morning and presenting the numbers of registered voters as well as those who cast a ballot in Tuesday's Primary, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Balster called Widboom and Paplow to the front of the room. There, she displayed two labels, each containing the name of one candidate, and dropped them into a Nobles County Deputy Sheriff's hat supplied by Chris Heinrichs. No folding or scrunching of the labels was allowed.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh won a coin toss to be the designated person drawing the name from the hat.

"This is the most excitement we've had at a canvassing board," said Nobles County Commissioner Marv Zylstra, who was among nearly 20 people to attend the meeting in the training room of the Government Center. Commissioner Robert Demuth Jr. was also in attendance, while Commissioner Diane Thier served on the canvassing board.

After the winning name was drawn from the hat and Widboom was announced as the candidate, his two oldest sons, seated in the audience, broke out in hushed cheers.

Balster then asked Paplow if he wanted to request a recount of the ballots. Paplow declined, although Balster made it known that he has up to five days to request it be done.

This will be the second time Widboom has challenged Benson for the District 3 Nobles County Commissioner seat. In November 2006, Benson defeated Widboom by just 158 votes -- 797 to 639.

Benson, a resident of Ransom Township, near Bigelow, has served 20 years on the Nobles County Board of Commissioners. Widboom resides north of Worthington in Worthington Township.

With little more than two months remaining before the general election, Widboom said he hopes to make it to every door step in his district to convey his interest in serving the residents of District 3.

"Since the redistricting has realigned a few folks as far as who they're voting for ... I want to share my commitment to be an honest, truthful leader for my district and for the county," Widboom said. "To me, it's an exciting time to be a candidate."

Widboom said his focus, if elected, will be on job growth in the county and ways commissioners can seek to provide new opportunities. He's also interested in moving the county forward.

"I think that the commitment to make sure that we're doing the people's business is something that I strongly believe in," he added. "It's very public a lot of the challenges the county has gone through over the past few years. I look forward to leading the county in a new direction as a new administrator or county coordinator is coming in. It's certainly a perfect time to bring in some new leadership on the county commission."

Benson could not be reached Friday for comment.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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