Ben DeNucci elected to Itasca County board

Ben DeNucci

Voters elected Nashwauk Mayor Ben DeNucci as the next District 5 Itasca County Commissioner in a special election held today, Tuesday, Dec. 12.

DeNucci carried 959 votes, or 58 percent, while his opponent  Lawrence Township Supervisor Casey Venema carried 691 voters, or  just shy of 42 percent. This according to a late night press release from the Itasca County recorder’s office.

Turnout was low for this unusual December election. In the primary election, DeNucci outpaced Venema 757-449, with another candidate garnering 142 votes. The general only drew about 300 more voters and DeNucci maintained a similar margin of victory.

Denucci now joins a county board seat left vacant by the resignation of Mark Mandich last June. Mandich, a longtime commissioner and labor leader, stepped down due to health concerns.

DeNucci carried labor support into this election and touted endorsements from several Iron Range mayors and Congressman Rick Nolan. District 5 is dominated by DeNucci’s hometown of Nashwauk and neighboring Keewatin, home to the only currently active iron mine in Itasca County. However, the district also includes a number of rural townships and smaller west Range towns where Venema did better.

After being seated early next month, DeNucci will have to run again next fall in the regular general election.

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