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Bemidji mayor to seek state House seat

Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann plans to run as a Republican for a state House seat in November.

Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann plans to run as a Republican for a state House seat in November. He’s going after first-term DFLer John Persell.

Lehmann has been mayor for 10 years and was on the city council for six years before that, said the Bemidji Pioneer

Lehmann told the paper he wants to work on compromises, after watching the Legislature battle lame-duck Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“When you see them battling it out down there, I don’t know if people talk to one another,” he said. “I’m pretty good about that, reaching out across both sides” of the political aisle. “I’m a good listener. I can listen to people and help them work through things.

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“Frankly, with LGA cut the way it has been, and I know we have a Republican governor, I want to go down there and fight for that as well,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann and Pawlenty have publicly sparred over LGA after the governor first used Bemidji as an example of raising property taxes nearly 20 percent when lost LGA didn’t approach that level, accusing the city of overspending.

Lehmann will meet with Pawlenty Tuesday to discuss LGA.

“With the tiff with the governor, I’m doing my job as mayor,” Lehmann said. “He chose to use Bemidji as an example in his radio program, and I have a meeting with him Tuesday morning to talk about this, but I’m doing my job as mayor. That’s what people elected me for, whether he’s a Republican governor or a Democrat governor, it doesn’t make any difference.”