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Nobles County votes in three new commissioners

WORTHINGTON -- Two of the three incumbents who faced reelection in the Nobles County Board of Commissioners race will keep their seats, with board chairman David Benson ousted by a mere 32 votes by his opponent, Matt Widboom, in District 3.

Returning to the board are District 1 Commissioner Marv Zylstra and District 4 Commissioner Robert Demuth Jr.

Gene Metz picked up the District 2 seat vacated by Diane Thier; while Donald Linssen will take the District 5 seat.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting by 11 p.m. Tuesday, Zylstra picked up 979 votes to Keith Stubbe's 727 votes in District 1. Gene Metz garnered 1,069 votes in District 2 to Bruce Loosbrock's 935 votes. Widboom received 726 votes to Benson's 694 votes in District 3; while Demuth Jr. had 1,034 votes to Mike Kuhle's 577 votes in District 4. The District 5 race resulted in 706 votes going to Linssen and 626 votes to his opponent, Marlyn Mammen.

Widboom earned the right to challenge Benson for the District 3 race after his name was drawn out of a hat on Aug. 17 to break a tie in the primary election. In the primary, Benson came out in the lead, with Widboom and Paplow receiving the same number of votes.

On Tuesday night, Widboom offered gratitude to Benson for his years of service.

"The No. 1 thing is to thank Commissioner Benson for his years of service to Nobles County," he said. "(Benson) was undoubtedly a tireless servant in Nobles County. He represented us on a lot of state issues. I certainly appreciate his dedication, and that goes for the other commissioners, (Diane) Thier and (Vern) Leistico. It's never easy to be a volunteer -- a public servant.

Widboom said his top priority now will be to "get up to speed" with the issues in the county.

With both a bonding issue for a new library and the search for a new county administrator well under way, Widboom said he wants to be informed about what the current commissioners have in place regarding those issues.

Metz, who had attended three county commissioner meetings since being selected as one of two District 2 candidates to advance in the Aug. 14 primary -- including meetings in which the county's budget was discussed and the administrative search committee members were selected.

"I know it's going to be a challenge, with a new administrator to be hired and the library issues coming up," Metz said, adding that he was thankful to have attended some meetings already.

"It was good to just get a feel for how things run," he said. "It was nice to be on the ground floor of some of that."

Metz was appreciative of all of the votes he received, and said he and Loosbrock ran a "pretty clean" campaign. Metz estimates he visited about 75 percent of the households in his district, which is the largest district in area of all the commissioner districts.

"I've heard a lot of issues -- concerns -- basically things we have to keep doing," he said.

In District 4, Demuth campaigned on the efforts of the board to keep the county moving forward after a year of change.

"The last thing we needed to do was change the change," he said. "We've had retreats, we've had department head meetings, we're building trust and we're moving forward. To keep the progress moving forward was my message, and I'm looking forward to doing that as chair next year."

Demuth, who currently serves as vice-chair of the board, is in his second year of his first term. He is looking forward to his next term being a full four-year term, and also looking forward to addressing the issues of the county.

"My short-term goal is to get a new administrator," he said. "We also need to look at health and human services to see if they're going to be able to do business as usual. The long-term goal is to cooperate with surrounding counties and communities in Nobles County to see if there's ways we can operate together and save some expenses.

"I look forward to working with the seated commissioners as chairman of the board and moving Nobles County forward," he added.

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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