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Absentee 1

Gary Herrig casts an absentee ballot Nov. 2 at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse in Mason City. 

MASON CITY | Voter turnout in Mason City's municipal elections Tuesday was the highest in nearly 20 years, according to Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline.

Complete but unofficial totals show 7,195 voters cast ballots, a turnout of 37.6 percent. That is only the fourth time in the past 20 years when turnout has surpassed 7,000. In 1999, 7,424 people voted, a turnout of 39.2 percent.

Early voting gave the first indication that overall turnout would be high. In Mason City, 1,672 absentee votes were cast, a record turnout for absentees, according to Kline. That was almost 300 more than the overall turnout in 2015, when just 1,397 people voted.

Election officials said high community interest in two public issues related to the city's River City Renaissance project contributed to the high turnout.

Voters approved a lease agreement with Southbridge Mall for an ice arena/multipurpose center as well as a plan to issue up to $14 million in bonds to help pay for expenses related to building a hotel in the south parking lot of Southbridge. Both measures passed with roughly 75 percent approval. 

The hotel represents required private investment in the nearly $39 million River City Renaissance project, which includes the ice arena/multipurpose center. 

In three contested elections, City Councilman Bill Schickel was elected mayor; two ward elections will require runoffs, as neither candidate received half of the vote.

In the Second Ward, Will Symonds and Troy Levenhagen were the top two vote getters. In the Fourth Ward, John Jaszewski and Matt Marquardt finished one-two. The runoffs to decide the winners will be on Dec. 5.

Tom Thoma ran unopposed as an at-large candidate.

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