By Dylan Rouse
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The time has come once again to head on down to the local polling station and cast a vote for a favorite mayoral candidate. This year’s election features two Bemidji State University Alumni. The Bemidji-raised Jorge Prince and current Mayor Rita Albrecht are both hoping for student support as they continue their race to become Bemidji’s next Mayor.
Bemidji State has a long tradition of graduating successful leaders. Prince and Albrecht are both prime examples of what a quality college education and experience can offer students. Their paths may have been quite different, but they intersected in the 2014 race for Mayor.
Prince first entered BSU as one of the first Post-Secondary Education Option students in 1988. He spent most of his time focused on his major. Working a full-time job, Prince still managed to be involved on campus and was a member of the Business and Accounting Clubs. After graduating in 1994 with a BS in Accounting, Prince received an offer to become part of a budding company called Minntex Investment Inc., and was fortunate enough to help contribute to the company’s success.
Albrecht moved to Bemidji in 1976 to attend the University. During school she was a Resident Assistant for the Maple and Oak dorms. She sold tickets at sporting events and was a member of the Geography Club. She took some time off, and with her husband, Mike, owned the Bemidji A&W restaurant. She later returned to BSU and earned a BS in Education and BA in Geography and Planning. Since graduation she has been involved with several community organizations and has held several planning and community development positions. She was elected to city council in 2010 and became the Mayor of Bemidji in 2012.
Both candidates continued to have ties with the University after graduation. “Bemidji State is an integral part of the community. We have a shared future,” said Prince. Prince became the Executive Director for the Small Business Development Center in 2007 and held that position for three years. Albrecht is on the BSU Alumni Association Board and has been an adjunct professor in geography and political science. One of the things the two have in common is the shared interest of maintaining a strong relationship between the University and Bemidji community.“A strong University is a strong community. While you’re in Bemidji, think of the community as yours.” suggests Albrecht.
One important factor that the candidates plan to address if they are elected is the economic development of the city of Bemidji. Each mentioned and stressed the importance of creating more job opportunities for residents and students alike. With an increase in opportunities for jobs it is more likely that students will be able to work their way through school and can have a chance to continue to be a part of the Bemidji community after graduation.
Being a Bemidji State Alumni is a solid accomplishment. College can be a stressful time in students’ lives and making it through to the end can be quite difficult. It takes a lot of motivation and hard work to earn a degree. These two graduates had some advice for the current Bemidji State students:
“Do what you love and try and make it profitable” said Albrecht
“Find something that inspires and motivates you and don’t be afraid” said Prince
This year’s race should be a close one. Students are encouraged to vote. Even if they do call Bemidji home all year round, they are still a huge part of the community and should have a say in electing our city’s future leader. The voting begins on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014, between 7am and 8pm. Students can vote right on campus at the American Indian Resource Center or at the other polling locations throughout the city. Visit the city of Bemidji website for more information.