No interim commissioner appointment leaves District 1 chair empty on County Board
For the second time in two weeks the Goodhue County Board considered appointing a commissioner to represent District 1. Once again, no one was appointed. The board met on Tuesday, May 21.
During the special meeting held Monday, May 13, Commissioner Barney Nesseth explained that he was concerned that appointing someone would give that individual an unfair advantage in the special election due to status as an incumbent. This was still a concern for Nesseth during Tuesday's meeting.
Margaret Simanski of Florence Township agreed with Nesseth.
"I think the only fair way to do this is to have an election and I agree with Mr. Majerus and Mr. Nesseth that there should be an election," Simanski told the board.
Featherstone Township is in District 4 and represented by Jason Majerus.
Seven District 1 residents who spoke at the meeting asked the board to appoint someone to represent the district that Ron Allen had served for 14 years.
Dan Bender, a District 1 resident and former Red Wing mayor, said, "I need, and I believe I deserve representation on the County Board. And I currently don't have that, and it might be quite a while as I understand it; up to possibly eight months before that happens. And, I don't think that's acceptable."
Red Wing resident Paul Christianson told the board that "taxation without representation is really quite in error. We deserve in District 1 someone who will step forward right away as soon as possible so that the will of the people is carried out in its fullest measure."
After citizens were given a chance to speak, the commissioners began to discuss their next steps. Echoing last week's discussion on making a board appointment for District 1, Paul Drotos nominated Scott Safe to serve until an election can be held in November or February. Chairman Brad Anderson then seconded the motion.
Safe filled the District 1 seat temporarily while Allen was on medical leave.
Drotos told those gathered: "I believe Scott Safe should not be overlooked or passed over for his service and he should be recognized and reappointed. There is no fairer thing in democracy than an election, we all know that. But we cannot have one now. There is nothing more unfair than denying anybody representation, which is why the laws call for appointment."
Nesseth thanked those gathered and District 1 residents who had contacted him since the previous board meeting.
"I was contacted by almost 60 residents. ... I heard a lot of different ideas, it wasn't all one way. So, I guess as a point there, here's what I'm going to suggest and the board can do this as you may. Would we be interested in waiting to see who files and then making an appointment after that? I guess that's kind of where I'm sitting."
An assistant county attorney told the four commissioners that they could make an appointment later in the year but they would have to appoint one of the four District 1 residents who filed during the set window to be considered for the appointment. Even if all four register to run for the special election on Nov. 5, no one else can be appointed by the board.
If two or fewer people register to run for the District 1 seat there will be a special general election on Nov. 5. If more than two people register, a primary will be held on Nov. 5 and the special election will be on Feb. 11.