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Candidate who withdrew from race earns spot on November ballot

Although he dropped out of the race weeks ago, one Washington County Board candidate has won enough votes in the Minnesota state primary to advance to the November general election.

In what has been a historic primary across the state for its unusually high turnout, Stan Karwoski and Julie Ohs in Washington County's District 2 and Wayne Johnson and Jeff Swenson — who has said he resigned from the race citing time commitment concerns — in District 4 have beat out other county commissioner candidates to appear on the ballot this November.

District 2 covers covers portions of Woodbury, White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi, as well as the entireties of Oakdale, Landfall, Pine Springs, Birchwood and Willernie. District 4 covers Cottage Grove, Denmark Township, Grey Cloud Island Township, Newport, St. Paul Park and portions of Woodbury and Hastings.

District 4 had four candidates running, although all five appeared on the ballot. Johnson received 24.27 percent and Swenson received 24.01 percent of the votes. John Thorson was the next closest candidate to advance to the general election, with 22.82 percent of the votes.

In District 2, Stan Karwoski, who has served on the Washington County Board since winning a 2016 special election, received 52 percent of the vote split among three candidates. Julie Ohs, who serves on the Woodbury City Council, received 36 percent.

About 6,000 votes for county board were received in District 2 as of 11:45 p.m. Tuesday with one precinct left to file results; 5,851 votes were received in District 4. Prior to election day, 159,171 people were registered to vote in Washington County, per Minnesota Secretary of State data.

Several people said Trump's election and the increasingly partisan climate motivated them to vote in a primary for the first time.

Laurie Pellerite, who is 62 and has lived in Woodbury for 31 years, said she voted for Karwoski for the Washington County Board District 2 seat based on his broad variety of experience.

She said she had voted in some primaries before, but didn't remember being as invested in state results as she was this year.

"It's so obvious that every vote counts and that everyone has to get out there," she said.

Katie Callaghan, 49, of Woodbury, said she voted for Julie Ohs for Washington County Board District 2 in part because she wanted to see more women in local government.

"We represent half the population," she said. "I think we should represent at least half of the decision making."

Several voters said they didn't feel that they had prepared enough to learn about the local candidates, especially for county board. Some said they made their county board decisions based off opinions of others who they felt did enough research or depending on who visited their house during door-knocking for the campaign.

Multiple voters said they did not know the county board seats were on the ballot or who the candidates were.

In Newport, Donna Burback, 67, said she decided to vote for Bill Sumner, who lost the primary with 16 percent of the vote, after speaking with him in person.

"I believed if something needed to be done, he would get it done," she said.

Molly Anne, 24, of Newport, said she supported John Thorson because of his website's emphasis on bee pollination and safe water.