Klein resigns from Forest Lake council

City Council likely to appoint interim member, put seat on 2014 ballot


Clint Riese
News Editor

A surprising announcement late in Monday’s City Council meeting left a vacant chair on the five-seat board.

Jeff Klein
Jeff Klein

First-term Councilman Jeff Klein used the time allotted for council members to provide updates just before adjournment to turn in his resignation, effective immediately.

The father of two young daughters cited a lack of family time in an emotional address, included in full below. His duties as senior manager of operations for the Minnesota Wild/Minnesota Sports and Entertainment requires him to work parts of three shifts, he said.

The rest of the council passed a motion accepting his resignation and declaring the at-large seat vacant. The city must put the seat up for public vote on or before the next general election, because more than two years remained on Klein’s term. He won a four-year term in November’s election, securing one of two seats open to four candidates.

While the council is allowed to hold a special election at any time, members seemed inclined to wait until next year’s general election. City Attorney Dave Hebert said doing so would avoid some logistical legwork and the additional cost of holding a separate election.

That means Mayor Chris Johnson and council members Mike Freer, Ben Winnick and Susan Young will need to appoint a replacement to serve until next fall. The seat will then be up for election with the original term window of Dec. 31, 2016 still in place.

Johnson urged acting swiftly to find a new council member. Prospective members are asked to submit formal letters of interest. An interview process will follow. More information is online at www.ci.forest-lake.mn.us.

In the case of a split vote regarding an appointment, state statute gives the mayor the right to break the tie, Hebert said.

Former Councilman Jim Dufour and Ed Eigner were the other candidates on last fall’s council ballot.

Klein’s address

Klein gave the following address Monday night:

“Last year I wasn’t going to run for council, but there were two open seats and two people had filed to run. Two people for two seats isn’t really an election, it’s more of a formality. So I figured if no one else would do it, I would.

“My 5-year-old at the time said, ‘Daddy, don’t run. That’s time I won’t get to see you.’ That was pretty insightful for a 5-year-old.

“At the time I wasn’t working many evenings, and it seemed workable to not take too much time away from my family. What appeared from the outside to be two to three meetings a month is in actuality two or more a week if you include various boards and committees. That in itself was workable, however the busy season is on me at work and that’s also four or five nights a week. Do the math, and it usually adds up to seven.

“My regular job also entails me to be there parts of all three shifts a lot of times. In the last three months alone, the following extra city or board meetings have been scheduled at 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 4, 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m. Not to mention the various training seminars and just general meetings with citizens.

“I’ve been unable to attend even half of these meetings, and I’m not generally one to do things half-ass, but unfortunately, with the time it takes in running the course of the day, that’s kind of what has happened.

“Even tonight, the meeting was moved up from 7 to 5:30, so that’s another day I will not have seen my kids at all.

“So with that said, I’m resigning from the council, effective immediately.”

  • Cameron Piper

    There is no reason why The Mayor and The City can’t and shouldn’t allow the people to speak (vote) on who they would like to represent them in the vacated council seat this November. There is plenty of time to print ballots and I have a hard time believing that Mayor Johnson has suddenly found his fiscal conservative side. I find it a bit hypocritical that he, and Councilwoman Young are all of a sudden concerned about a cost that would realistically amount to less than 0.2% of the annual budget, when in the same meeting they had no problem raising taxes by 12.5% to fund their pet projects.

    If the vote does take place in 2014 can we all finally have an honest conversation about how some on The Council and The Mayor have a strong disdain for the will of the people and see themselves as being elected to dictate their benevolent will upon the lowly masses.

  • Guest

    Another showdown is about to take place between the self appointed rulers of Forest Lake and the citizens who are supposed to be in charge.

    Pardon me if I don’t find it a bit hypocritical that Mayor Johnson and Councilwoman Young are all of a sudden going to find their fiscal conservative side when it comes to the election for the vacated council seat. Mr. Klein put in his resignation at a City Council meeting where Klein, Johnson and Young voted to pass a budget that increased taxes by 12.5% and now all of a sudden they are concerned with the costs associated with an off year election.

    I am told that Wyoming just held a 1 issue, off year election for roughly $4k. Lets double it because our city is much better at wasting money than Wyoming is and if you do the math, the $8k would amount to less than 0.1% of the overall annual budget. They can’t possibly be trying to make the argument that they are concerned about the cost when in their very last meeting they showed such reckless abandon for raising taxes?

    Can we finally have an honest discuss in this city about whether or not our elected officials care about what the people have to say? We are now being told that a tax increase of 12.5% to fund an unnecessary municipal campus that they wanted is okay but 0.1% is too much to let the people make a decision. Could it possibly be that The Mayor just doesn’t want the people to speak on this issue in 2013 because he can control the council through 2014 by appointing one of his friends if they aren’t allowed to?

    • Stacy Klein

      more whining from cameron piper!

      • Guest


        I’m curious to know where you disagree with what I am requesting in my statement.

      • Stacy – So if you disagree with someone you make your argument by saying they are whining? I thought Cam laid out a great argument on the budget that the newspaper choose not to report.

      • Ash Lambert

        Very insightful retort Stacy. Maybe a little more detail is needed on your end as to why you disagree?