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Five votes, no decision on empty council seat

Four candidates, then two, then three, then two were considered for the empty District 5 Council seat on Monday, June 4 as the five sitting council members failed to reach the required four-vote majority to fill the vacancy left after the death of John Hoggatt.

Among the initial candidates were Hoggatt's wife Sarah Atkins, Matt Borup, Urban Forestry Board member Elizabeth Malanaphy and Plan Commission member Mary Claire Olson Potter.

Borup and Malanaphy both withdrew their candidacy, though Malanaphy was later asked by Council Member Paul Deziel to re-enter consideration after two rounds of voting did not produce a clear winner between Atkins and Potter.

The addition of Malanaphy also failed to produce a majority winner, and Council Member Randy Morrissette questioned why Malanaphy was able to be added back. City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick said the council decides the process to fill the vacancy, and no one objected at the time of her renewal.

Atkins was eliminated in the next round of voting, leaving the last vote as three for Malanaphy and two for Potter.

If the four-vote majority could not be reached, Mayor Rich O'Connor explained the council could choose to hold a special election with the next election cycle in November. The seat would sit empty until then.

Council Member Jim Webber said he was uncomfortable with that option, especially because the Public Works Committee is short a member with the vacancy.

Council Member Joyce Hall instead suggested the council will bring the vote back to the next meeting on June 18, where Malanaphy and Potter will be the only two candidates.

"Give everybody a chance to think about things," Hall said.

Candidates considered

Atkins

A resident of Hudson since 1995, Atkins told the council she would bring both business and finance experience to the seat. She said she sees public safety, including EMS funding and the fire department's move to Ward Avenue, to be a priority for the city.

"My desire to be on city council with you is to carry on John's mission to be of service to Hudson. I hope to continue this work to make Hudson an ever-improving city to work, live and play," she said.

Morrissette expressed concern over the time commitment necessary, as Atkins is now taking on the business that she and Hoggatt owned on her own. Atkins said she is working to fill Hoggatt's role at the business, and said she has given the role a great deal of consideration.

"I'm able to step up to that job," she said.

The appointment is to fill the remaining term for the seat, and Atkins said she is currently not sure if she would run for re-election when it ends.

Potter

As Hudson moves forward, Potter said the city needs thoughtful planning and to continue to provide services to residents in a fiscally-responsible manner.

A former Hudson Chamber of Commerce president, Potter said she worked with mayors and council members on various issues that impacted Hudson.

"This position needs someone who can hit the ground running, and I can do that," Potter said.

She said she will focus on the importance of well-maintained city resources, and address growth and development opportunities.

"I have the skills, experience, desire, energy and time to fill this position," Potter said.

Potter said she helped elevate the chamber to the professional organization it is today, promoting the area and increasing room tax dollars.

When asked about EMS, Potter said she wanted a chance to review the work that has already gone into it.

Potter previously ran for a council position, and said she would run for re-election if appointed to fill this seat.

"I am very passionate about Hudson and really want to be a part of continuing to help it move forward," she said.

Malanaphy

With the division she sees in the community, Malanaphy said city leaders should have a nonpartisan, fair mindset. The current council, Malanaphy said, is good at that, and Hoggatt especially inspired her with his ability to listen to both sides.

If appointed to the position, Malanaphy said she would want to create new ways to meet with and hear from constituents on a regular basis.

"I think elected officials should listen to and respect their constituents and I think it's important to have a vehicle for doing so," Malanaphy said.

Malanaphy said the city needs to find solutions for its issues.

"It's not a matter of if we can, it's how we're going to," she said.

When asked about EMS, Malanaphy said she would emulate Hoggatt, who listed to residents and what they wanted.

"That's what I would do, I would ask my constituents what their thought is on it," Malanaphy said.

Malanaphy said she would run for re-election, as she has been considering a run for common council for a few years.

"I just felt this was the right time," she said.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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