The start of fall typically marks the beginning of election season, and locally the 2020 campaign season is under way.

Two candidate forums were held Sept. 17, at least one other is scheduled, and early voting in Minnesota officially began Sept. 18 for the Nov. 3 election.

The Waconia Chamber of Commerce held a forum at its Sept. 17 monthly luncheon for Waconia City Council candidates, District 5 Carver County commissioner contestants and candidates for local state offices. A virtual town hall was held the same evening for both commissioner contests in District 3 and District 5.

The Waconia Patriot will publish its own profiles and questionnaires from candidates in contests for city council, school board, county commissioner and state offices in the coming weeks.

As a reminder, here is the list of local candidates:

• Waconia City Council Ward 1: Steve Hebeisen and Randy Sorensen

• Waconia City Council Ward 2: Charles Erickson and Carl Pierson

• Mayor Kent Bloudek and Councilman Peter Leo are uncontested in their re-elections.

• Waconia School Board (3 positions open): Luke Deboer, Dana Geller, Amanda Hayford, Mark A. Murphy, Alycia Myers, Seth Waterhouse.

• County commissioner (District 3): Randy Maluchnik and Matt Udermann

• County commissioner (District 5): John Fahey and Mark Willems

• House District 47A: Arlan Brinkmeier and Jim Nash

• Senate District 47: Julia Coleman and Addie Miller

Meanwhile, the state’s period of absentee voting leading up to November election began last Friday. Many cities in the state have at least one location you can go to vote early in person. In addition to early in-person voting, county and city election offices have begun mailing ballots to voters who have requested them.

Election officials this year are encouraging voters to vote absentee by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota Secretary of State Simon said in a statement that as of last Wednesday over 926,000 Minnesota voters had requested an absentee ballot for the general election.

If you cannot take advantage of the early in-person voting, you can request an absentee ballot at the Secretary of State’s website: Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 for your vote to count.

Locally, city of Waconia residents have multiple options for voting: 1) Vote by mail; 2) vote at City Hall, 201 South Vine Street; 3) go to the Taxpayer Services department at the Carver County Government Center, 600 East 4th Street (for all Carver County residents); 4) vote in person on election day.

Absentee voting at Waconia City Hall is open from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Nov. 2. City Hall also will be open extended hours on the following dates: Saturday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m. to noon; Monday-Thursday, Oct. 26-29, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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