Meet the Candidates: Five candidates for Bemidji’s Ward 1

Featured photo: Candidates’ photos from left, clockwise, Laura Fairbanks, Audrey Thayer, Ryan Enger, Adam Hellquist and Joe Gould. Graphic courtesy of Eric Callagan.

Bemidji Now Author and Paul Bunyan Broadcasting’s News Director Larissa Donovan penned a series of questions, some general and some related to specific city issues, to ask all candidates for the city of Bemidji’s political races this year.

Ward 1’s current representative, Michael Meehlhause, is running for mayor this year, so Ward 1 will see a new face representing the district.

Candidates in the running for Ward 1, listed in alphabetical order, include Ryan Enger, Laura Fairbanks, Joe Gould, Adam Hellquist and Audrey Thayer.


This is Ryan Enger’s first political campaign, and was inspired to do good for the community by his father. Enger, according to the interview, while a student at Bemidji State, began the Indigenous Treaty Day with the city. This is his first political campaign.


Another newcomer to the political scene, Laura Fairbanks got her first dose of politics earlier this year when she was a delegate for the Beltrami County DFL. Fairbanks, in her interview, stressed the importance of listening to the community to address the city’s issues.


Joe Gould is a social studies teacher at Voyageurs High School, and has experience in state and local government, which he believes will help the city receive the funding it needs to address its infrastructure issues. Gould also worked as a legislative staffer in the state’s capitol.


Adam Hellquist works in industrial tech with Paul Bunyan Communications, and is another newcomer to Bemidji’s political arena. Hellquist, in his interview, said he wanted to be a part of the solution by taking on a leadership role, and by providing all citizens a voice.


Audrey Thayer has served on many city committees and local organizations addressing social justice and race relations over the years. In her interview, Thayer described her background in education, law and social work.


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