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Mendota Heights City Council to Fill Open Council Seat Tuesday Night

A tie vote on the four-person council would require interpretation of the law for a mayoral appointment.

The Mendota Heights City Council will be taking up the appointment of a new city council member Tuesday, Jan. 18. The chance of a tie vote brings a question about state statute in case of a tie vote into the procedural discussion.

The open seat was vacated by Sandra Krebsbach when she was sworn in as the new mayor. There are two years remaining on her council term that need to be filled by an appointee.

Four people currently sit at the dais: Krebsbach, Ultan Duggan, Liz Petschel and Jack Vitelli.

In a special public meeting held Jan. 13, the council interviewed eight candidates and selected three to discuss further at tonight’s meeting: Mike Povolny, Jill Smith and Ansis Viksnins.

The city has decided to follow the appointment process used for commission openings, which involves taking applications and voting on an applicant. 

Anyone may make a motion to appoint a candidate Tuesday night. If the vote fails, another motion can be made.

In case of a tie, the statute is open to interpretation, according to city attorney Tami Diehm.

Minnesota state statute says, “In case of a tie vote in the council, the mayor shall make the appointment.” Some have interpreted that to mean that in the case of one tie, the mayor shall choose the appointment. Others interpret that to mean in the case of any particular tie, the mayor can decide to flex the appointment authority.

Krebsbach told the council Jan. 13 that she intends to interpret the rule as referring to one tie vote. Krebsbach said that she will not make a decision on who to support until the discussion on the 18th, however, in the discussion to narrow the field from eight to three applicants, she did say Viksnins was her preferred applicant. While Viksnins did receive support from other council members, he was not identified as the No. 1 choice of the other council members following the interviews.

City administrator David McKnight said he’s seen the rule interpreted differently in different cities. For example, in his hometown of Farmington, he said he’s seen multiple tie votes occur for an appointment.

The last time a Mendota Heights vacancy was filled, then-mayor Charles Mertensotto appointed Mike Dwyer in 1998 without a council vote.

IF YOU GO:

What: Mendota Heights City Council meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011

Where: 1101 Victoria Curve, Mendota Heights (northwest of Lexington and Highway 110)

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