St. Anthony mulls council appointment or special election


Bonnie Brever resigned from the St. Anthony City Council Aug. 18, submitting her letter of resignation just days after the filing period closed for the upcoming city elections this fall. 

The council, which accepted her resignation at its Aug. 22 meeting, is now addressing how to move forward, though it’s unclear when it will decide how to proceed.

According to City Manager Mark Casey, the council — now made up of Mayor Jerry Faust and three council members — has two options, and the fall ballot is not one of them.

“Unfortunately, this position cannot be on the ballot,” Casey told the council at its Sept. 12 meeting, explaining that due to the late notice of her resignation, a replacement for Brever’s unfinished term cannot be voted into office on Nov. 7, in accordance with state statute.

However, that doesn’t mean the replacement can’t be elected, Casey pointed out. He explained that one of the council’s two options is to hold a special election, an alternative more involved than the council’s other option, which is to simply appoint a new council member to fill Brever’s seat until someone is elected in the 2019 election. 

Brever herself was appointed to the council in February 2015 to a partial term, and was elected to a full term later that year.

Casey said he’s heard from a handful of residents calling for a special election.

If the council were to approve such an election, it would have to comply with county guidelines.

“Ramsey County does our elections, so Ramsey County would also need a minimum of 74 days advanced notice,” Casey said, adding, “It’s an estimated cost of $4,000.” 

Casey also noted that at least one person contacted him expressing interest in being appointed to the council, if the city should go that route. 

As for the council’s decision, it’s not yet been made, or discussed.

“This is an informational report we asked the city manager to give to us,” Faust said at the Sept. 12 meeting. “We do not have one of our council members here,” he said of Hal Gray, who was not present. “So as far as us discussing what the course of action will be, we need to do that when we’re all present at another time.”

With more than two years remaining on her term, Brever — who was the only woman on the council — said in her letter of resignation that she resigned to focus more on her family, her children and grandchildren. 

“The position of a council member requires a tremendous commitment of time and energy, as well as fortitude and mental strength,” she wrote, going on to state she had been “distracted by cares for her family.”

Brever, a resident of St. Anthony for more than three decades, was chosen from a field of 10 candidates to fill the vacancy created by former council member Jim Roth, who submitted his letter of resignation Jan. 1, 2015.

Brever worked in various positions for the St. Anthony-New Brighton Independent School District for 23 years before retiring in June 2015.

This fall, there are  six people running for two seats on the St. Anthony council. Two of them are incumbents — council members Jan Jenson and Randy Stille are both seeking reelection. The last competitive city council election in St. Anthony was in 2011 — both Jenson and Stille ran unopposed in 2013.

Casey confirmed that none of the candidates are eligible for Brever’s now-vacant seat, since they all filed for four-year terms.

The other candidates are Christopher Clark, Dave Colling, Thomas Randle and Nancy Robinett. 

Three of the four challengers have said they want the city’s leadership to be more transparent and for there to be increased community outreach and engagement efforts. 

In addition to the residents who have reached out to Casey requesting that the city hold a special election, the St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action Facebook page  was bubbling with comments in favor of putting the seat to a vote.

Asked whether the council will make its decision to appoint a new member or hold a special election prior to Nov. 7, Election Day, Casey said, “Don’t know.”

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815


 

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