Three city councils fill vacant positions

By Adam Quandt
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Following the 2016 elections, the cities of Orono, Long Lake and Maple Plain were left with open seats on their city councils. All three cities elected new mayors, who happened to be sitting council members with unexpired terms.

Since taking their oaths in January, mayors Dennis Walsh, Marty Schneider, Julie Maas-Kusske and their respective councils have been reviewing applications and interviewing candidates take on the role as council member.

The Orono City Council met just before its Feb. 13 meeting for a special work session to interview four candidates to take over the unexpired council seat vacated by Walsh when he was elected mayor.

“We had four great candidates that had all very diverse backgrounds,” Victoria Seals said.

The candidates included Wendy Dankey, Bradley Holt, Georgette Jabbour and Jon Schwingler.

With a 4-0 vote, the council voted to appoint Wendy Dankey to the council seat. Dankey’s term will expire on Dec. 31, 2018.

Following the vote, Dankey was immediately sworn in and joined the council for the remainder of the meeting.
During the Feb. 7 meeting, the Long Lake City Council held an anonymous vote to fill the vacant council seat left by Schneider when he was elected mayor.

Long Lake had four candidates apply for the vacant seat. “There was a lot of talent and great people that show interest in the community,” Council Member Michelle Jerde said.

The first vote ended in a tie, with two votes for former council member Kurt Kaminski and two votes for Charlie Miner.

According to Minnesota law, in the event of a tie a city’s mayor can make the ultimate decision. However, this was not something Mayor Schneider wanted to do.

“That’s not a decision I want to make on my own,” Schneider said. “Decisions should be collective.”

Following a second vote between the two remaining candidates, the council voted 3-1 in favor of Kaminski.
Kaminski was sworn in at the following city council meeting on Feb. 21.

A vacant city council seat was also left by Maas-Kusske in Maple Plain, when she was elected mayor in the 2016 election.

During Maple Plain’s Feb. 13 meeting, the council voted 4-0 to appoint Caitlin Cahill to the vacant council seat.

Cahill was immediate sworn in following the vote and joined the council for the remainder of the meeting.

“It’s great to have a full team and more voices for our residents,” Mayor Maas-Kusske said.