New Albertville Mayor Jillian Hendrickson wasted no time into her new term before she had to make a difficult decision — choosing a new city council member.
Ultimately she cast the tie vote for former planning commissioner Robert Olson, ahead former city council candidate Mark Barthel.
After Hendrickson and councilors Larry Sorensen and John Vetsch were sworn into their new four-year terms, the council needed to make a decision about the council vacancy that was created when Hendrickson was elected mayor, leaving two years on her term.
City attorney Mike Couri said the council alone would decide on a new council member.
“There’s no set process for appointment other than the person has to be an Albertville resident and be qualified to vote,” Couri said. “In essence the statute leaves it up to you to choose who is best to serve.”
Couri also explained that if the council tied its vote, Hendrickson would make the appointment.
Hendrickson noted that two persons wrote letters of interest, Olson and Barthel.
Upon asking for council input, Dan Wagner spoke of his time working with Olson on the planning commission.
“(Olson is) a well-received asset with knowledge of engineering,” Wagner said.
Hendrickson said both candidates are qualified but that she also likes Olson’s experience on the planning commission.
Sorensen, who won the election in a coin flip after he and Barthel received tie votes for the job, said he learned about Barthel during the process and felt he should support him since he got so many votes. Councilor John Vetsch agreed.
“But I’d be happy to work with either,” Sorensen said.
Upon a vote, Wagner and Hendrickson supported Olson, and Vetsch and Sorensen voted for Barthel. Hendrickson said while she respects that Barthel received a lot of votes in the election, that the results could be different upon a re-vote. She then appointed Olson, who was promptly sworn in and seated with the council.
Olson will now serve out the remainder of Hendrickson’s original council term until the end of 2014.
In other news, the council heard from Boy Scout and St. Michael-Albertville junior Zach Peterson about Peterson’s Eagle Scout project.
Zach said his project is construction of a boardwalk in Central Park, connecting an existing sidewalk to a path near the Albertville Fire Hall. He said he secured a $2,000 from the Albertville Lions Club to support the project, as well as approval from Albertville City Administrator Adam Nafstad and Public Works Supervisor Tim Guimont.
The wooden path would sit or float on a small wetland in the Central Park. Zach said he would gather the materials at his grandparents’ farm and haul sections to the site. The boardwalk would be 176-feet long by 6-feet wide, with construction from April to June.
The council enthusiastically supported Zach’s project, which will be built with the help of his Troop 547, which he said includes five Eagle Scouts in the past four years.