Judd 'at a loss for words' about winning Moorhead mayor race

Moorhead mayoral candidate Johnathan Judd answers questions.
Johnathan Judd answers questions from audience members after a public forum for Moorhead, Minn., mayoral candidates on Sept. 27, 2018.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Attorney Johnathan Judd said he could never have anticipated a result in the Moorhead mayor's race in which he defeated longtime City Council Member Brenda Elmer by more than 10 percentage points.

"I'm kind of at a loss for words, to be honest," Judd said, as he celebrated with family and friends at Legends Bar on Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial results, Judd grabbed 51 percent of the vote to Elmer's 40 percent.

Kurdish-American community leader Newzad Brifki received 8 percent in the three-way race.

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Judd will replace current Mayor Del Rae Williams, who did not run for re-election.

Judd is believed to be the first African-American elected to the office — something he said he'd never really thought about.

"I would probably say that it speaks volumes of how far our community has come," Judd said, adding, "I'm just honored. It hasn't really sunk in yet."

Elmer, owner of a property management and investment business, outspent Judd's campaign by nearly a 4-to-1 margin.

Her campaign finance reports from 2017 and 2018 show she raised about $40,000, compared with about $12,000 for Judd's team.

Elmer said she wasn't overly confident about the race, because she knew the competition was there. She called Judd Tuesday evening to wish him the best.

"He will do well," she said.

Judd, who does contract work as a public defender with the Seventh Judicial District, has also been busy volunteering with youth sports programs over the last 15 years. He thinks those relationships paid off.

He said his first priorities as mayor will be addressing economic development and a shortage of police officers in the city.

The office of Moorhead mayor is a four-year term. The city pays its mayor a salary of approximately $19,000 a year.

This story is from the Fargo Forum, click here to read the story on their website.