Spring Lake Park City Council makes 2014 appointments

At its first meeting of the new year Jan. 6, the Spring Lake Park City Council determined annual citizen, council and staff appointments.

Citizens were needed to fill five posts on city commissions this year. Three positions, each with a three-year term, were available on the parks and recreation commission, and two positions, also with three-year terms, were up for grabs on the planning commission.

Three incumbents indicated interest in serving each commission.

With no additional nominations from council, Wesley Cox, Barbara Harlan and Ken Wendling were reappointed to the parks and recreation commission without discussion.

Planning commission appointments proved more difficult.

Two fewer commissioners were appointed this year to bring the commission’s size more in line with those in other cities. With this change, approved by the council in May, seven members will serve instead of nine in 2014. So, not all incumbents were reappointed.

Mike Anderson, Jeff Bernhagen and Doug Eischens all expressed interest in retaining their seats on the planning commission.

“How do you choose between people that all are good?” Councilwoman Jeanne Mason asked as the council prepared for an anonymous vote.

City code outlines an appointment procedure that requires each member on the council, including the mayor, to rank each candidate. With three candidates, members were asked to place a five next to their top candidate’s name, a four by their second-choice candidate and a three beside their third-choice candidate.

City Administrator Dan Buchholtz said he anticipated a question like Mason’s to come up, so he provided attendance records for the mayor and councilmembers to consider.

From 2011 to 2013, Anderson attended six of seven meetings, Bernhagen was present at all planning commission meetings and Eischens attended two meetings.

On hearing attendance records, Mason said, “That makes it easier.”

In a close vote, the council reappointed Bernhagen with a vote of 17 and Eischens with 16. Anderson was not reappointed, short one vote with 15, an upset if considering attendance alone.

No changes were made to council and staff appointments, although Mayor Cindy Hansen tried to relieve herself as the city’s official weed inspector, asking to swap roles with Public Works Director Terry Randall and become assistant weed inspector.

Buchholtz told Hansen that she could delegate responsibilities to Randall, but she had to retain the title of weed inspector, as Minnesota state law demands.

Buchholtz isn’t sure why the law requires a city’s mayor to keep an eye on weeds, but “in the vast majority of Minnesota cities, the actions of that position get delegated to staff,” he said with a chuckle in an interview after the meeting.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]