City Council likely to appoint interim member, put seat on 2014 ballot
A surprising announcement late in Monday’s City Council meeting left a vacant chair on the five-seat board.
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 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.”