Bearth on County Board win: 'It's just gratifying'
Voters ousted Washington County Board Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek from office last week, opting for another Oakdale man with a long history of public service.
Ted Bearth defeated Pulrkabek in the District 2 race for commissioner, winning 52 percent to 47 percent.
"It's just gratifying that people put their faith and trust in me," Bearth said. "And it came home."
The win brings an end to Pulkrabek's run on the board, to which he was first elected in 1998.
He said voters in Washington County may have decided it was time for a change of scenery. Both Pulkrabek and the board's longest serving commissioner - Dennis Hegberg of Forest Lake - lost their races.
"Sometimes the longer you're in office, the more votes you take, the more opportunities you get to upset people," Pulkrabek said. "Maybe that factored into it."
Another possibility voters may have considered was a 2011 criminal case in which Pulkrabek was accused of assaulting his then-girlfriend. He entered an Alford plea to disorderly conduct in the case, which did not require him to plead guilty, but rather concede enough evidence existed for a jury to find him guilty.
Pulkrabek said "it's hard to say" whether the criminal case impacted his re-election effort.
Bearth, who did not make the criminal case an issue during the campaigns, said he did hear about it from some voters while door knocking.
"They weren't happy with that," he said.
Pulkrabek congratulated Bearth on the victory, calling him "a good guy."
"He's done a lot in Oakdale," Pulkrabek said.
Bearth comes to County Board with decades of public service experience, including 24 years on Oakdale City Council and six years as the city's mayor.
As for top priorities on the board, Bearth said he would like to check into the 4-H program and "see where that's at."
"That's a good program," he said.
He also reiterated his call for halting any tax increases at the county level.
"People are hurting," Bearth said.