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SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- There will be a contested election in South Sioux City this fall.

In his bid for re-election, South Sioux City Mayor Rod Koch will be opposed by Jose "Lupe" Gonzalez, a prominent businessman and soccer coach.

Koch had previously announced he was running again to lead Dakota County's largest city. Gonzalez announced his candidacy on Thursday, the last day to file as a candidate in Nebraska this year.

Koch, a longtime employee of Great West Casualty Co., ran unopposed in 2014 for his first four-year term as mayor of the city with a population of about 13,120. He previously served two terms on the City Council.

Gonzalez is a business owner, of Mi Familia Restaurant, and head coach for the South Sioux City High School boys soccer team.

“I believe it is important to find or develop programs which aim to keep our young people in the community by making available education, training and jobs," Gonzalez said in a news release.

He would be the first Latino mayor elected in South Sioux City, which has a large Hispanic population.

Four of the eight council seats also will go before voters in November.

Eight candidates had filed by Thursday's deadline, including three incumbents -- Bruce Davis, John Sanders and Dennis Nelson. The other five candidates are Michael O'Brien, Gary Hallstrom, Randy Meyer, James Gunsolley and Jeff Lantz.

Councilman Jack Ehrich is not running for re-election.

Three candidates filed for two open Dakota City Council positions. They are Andy Backman, James Varvais and Ronald Haase.

Dakota County

There are several Dakota County government posts in the election too.

A whopping 13 candidates -- and neither of the incumbents -- are running for two Dakota County Commission positions.

The nine Republican candidates are Richard McNear, of Hubbard, Janet Gill, of Jackson, Troy Launsby, of Homer, Jasper Kriens, of South Sioux City, Dennis Harris, of Homer, Maira Tripp, of South Sioux City, Greg Utech, of Hubbard, Kevin Chambers, of Homer, and Bill McLarty, of South Sioux City. McLarty is a former South Sioux City mayor.

The four Democratic commissioner candidates are Ron Hartnett, of Dakota City, Larry Albenesius, of Jackson, Randy Groetken, of Dakota City, and Lue Franco, of South Sioux City.

County commissioners Scott Love and Bill Rohde are not seeking re-election.

Many current officeholders have no opposition this year. Elected officials running for four-year terms are County Clerk Joan Spencer, a Republican who lives in Hubbard; Sheriff Chris Kleinberg, a Republican from South Sioux City; Treasurer Bob Giese, a Democrat from South Sioux City; County Attorney Kim Watson, a Democrat from Dakota City; Assessor Jeff Curry, a Republican from South Sioux City; and Phyllis Obermeyer, a Democrat from South Sioux City.

For partisan offices, a primary election will be held on May 15 to select the Republican and Democratic nominees.

Additionally, one ballot initiative will go before county voters in November. They will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax to be used for infrastructure projects. The tax would run for 15 years, from 2019 through 2034.

School board

School board members also will be elected to four-year terms this fall.

Three people are running for three seats on the South Sioux City School Board -- Kevin O'Dell, Marcia Mahon and Robert Rapp.

There are four candidates for three posts on the Homer School Board -- Paul Tighe, Tim Murphy, Carrie Vanschoiack and Kristina Nelsen.

The six candidates for three Emerson-Hubbard School Board positions are Mary Ann Lussier, Kip Ahlers, Tarry Lee Daum, Tricia Belt, Bill Shanks and Jamie Mackling.

The three people running for three Ponca School Board posts are Kenton Book, Richard Dohma and John Gill.

The three candidates running for three Allen Consolidated School Board positions are Jason Olesen, Dawn Oswald and Jay Jackson.


County and education reporter

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