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Column: Tell me what you love about Bemidji — and what could be better

Larissa Donovan in Bemidji on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.
Lorie Shaull
Larissa Donovan in Bemidji on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.

We want to keep the people at the center of our coverage for Election 2024. Join me at the Bemidji Public Library on Thursday, June 20.

BEMIDJI — I've been covering local elections since 2016, with many late nights of greasy pizza, bitter coffee and impatiently refreshing the Secretary of State’s unofficial results page.

Election coverage tends to be candidate focused. Eager candidates with fresh ideas talk about ways they think they could help improve their communities, whether that’s a new park, a lower tax levy or improved streets. Incumbents point to their past accomplishments and their experience in making sometimes difficult decisions as stewards of tax-payer dollars.

“No offense, I’m sick of talking to you guys, I want to hear from the voters,” I blurted out to Matt Grossell, incumbent candidate for the District 2A House race in 2022, who did laugh and said he didn’t blame me when I ran into him at a candidate meet-and-greet on the Bemidji State University campus.

Larissa Donovan is seen here trying to drink a champagne bottle of chocolate the day after Election 2018.
Paul Bunyan Broadcasting
Larissa is seen here trying to drink a champagne bottle of chocolate the day after Election 2018.

While federal and state candidate races receive the most attention from media outlets, we have a unique opportunity at KAXE to curate more community-oriented election coverage on issues that affect us here in Northern Minnesota. And that’s why I’m hosting a listening session at the Bemidji Public Library from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20.

Talk to me about what you love about our community. I love it, too! I love it so much I’m losing sleep as I help coordinate the Bemidji Jaycees 80th Annual Water Carnival, set for July 3-7.

Tell me about what needs to get better. I’m a single mom and I know about the challenges young families can face when it comes to affordable housing, affordable day care and accessing mental health services.

Have a question? Ask KAXE! We're committed to keeping Northern Minnesotans at the center of our news and information. Click here to send your question and learn more.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I am persistent enough to try to find those answers for you.

We’ll have extremely light, librarian-approved refreshments on hand for this free, kid-friendly event. Tell us you're coming or spread the word by visiting our Facebook event.

We want to hear from communities all over the KAXE / KBXE coverage area, so invite us to host listening sessions in your town by emailing

If listening sessions aren’t your jam or you can’t make it, check out more about our project supported by America Amplified.

Coverage by Larissa Donovan

Larissa Donovan has been in the Bemidji area's local news scene since 2016, joining the KAXE newsroom in 2023 after several years as the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.