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Goodhue County commissioners don't name Allen's replacement

Goodhue County commissioners gathered for a special session on Monday, May 13, to appoint a representative for District 1. No one was appointed.

The seat became vacant when Ron Allen, who had served on the board for 14 years, died on April 19 from leukemia.

The earliest that an election can be held is Nov. 5, due to limits set by the Legislature. If more than two candidates file for the election — four sought the appointment — a primary will be held on Nov. 5 and the special election will occur on Feb. 11.

READ MORE: A life dedicated to service: Ron Allen remembered as good listener, caring friend | Hearing set to fill Allen's County Board seat ahead of special election

County Commissioners Brad Anderson and Paul Drotos said they favored appointing someone to fill the vacancy on Monday night.

Brad Anderson"I just think the district needs to be represented. It needs to have someone on this board. The residents need someone to be able to contact when they have a question. Not that the rest of us wouldn't do that, but I think they need that direct conduit to the board," Anderson, the board chair, said.

Anderson and Drotos supported reappointing Scott Safe; he was Allen's substitute while the longtime commissioner was undergoing medical treatment.

"I believe he would serve this county, and serve its citizens in District 1 the same way he has served up to this point until the election," Drotos said of Safe.

The other three people to file for the seat were Darwin Fox, Linda Flanders and Carol Overland.

Commissioners Jason Majerus and Barney Nesseth opposed filling the seat by appointment. Majerus said he did not want to impact the direction that the board will go before the election.

"Nothing against any individual appointed for this, but at this particular moment, I will not support any appointment until we've had the filing period. I feel it gives a little undue influence — direction of the board before the election's had."

Nesseth stated that he was concerned because he had not been able to read Overland's application; she submitted it the day of the special meeting. However, his main concern with appointing someone was that that person would have a possible advantage in the special election(s) for the seat in November or February.

"I look at the election and I say, 'Are we giving unfair advantage to the election, to a candidate that will be running for that spot? Is that a fair way to do it in the election process?' That's probably my largest concern about it. I would be in favor of seeing who files and then making the decision on that. Because somebody who would be the incumbent is going to have the definite advantage in the election. And I don't think that's the right way to do an election."

Later, Anderson pushed Nesseth to see if he would be willing to appoint someone after the candidate filing session was closed in September.

"So basically what you're saying is you don't think we should appoint anyone. Because as I said, if these four file, you're in the same boat in September that you are in today. And now you're asking that district not to have someone on this board for nine months. I have real problems with that," Anderson said.

Nesseth did not reply.

Overland offered to withdraw her application if that meant the board would appoint someone to represent District 1.

"I think it's very unfair that we would be unrepresented for that many months," she told the board.

The special meeting ended with no appointment. It will be revisited during the next board meeting at 9 a.m. May 21 in the Government Center boardroom. No other candidates can be submitted to be considered for the District 1 appointment at this time.

Minnesota statute says that before making an appointment to fill a vacancy, the board must hold a public hearing not more than 30 days after the vacancy occurs and, if after the hearing, the board is unable or decides not to make an appointment it must hold a special election.