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Wanted: a new Ward 3 councilor

The city of Cloquet is accepting applications to fill the Ward 3 Cloquet City Council seat for the next two years, with plans for interviews in mid-January. Applicants must reside within Ward 3 — which lies in the area between Highway 33 and 14th Street, and Doddridge Avenue and Avenue B — plus be at least 21 years old upon assuming office and an eligible Minnesota voter.

The Ward 3 position has been vacant since mid-August, when incumbent Chris Swanson moved to a new home in Ward 1. Since then, Swanson won the November election for a seat he couldn’t fill, beating write-in candidates Iris Keller and Pete Erickson in a landslide because Swanson’s name was the only one on the ballot due to election deadlines.

According to state and city statute, the council has a choice between scheduling a special election or appointing someone to serve until the next General Election in November 2024. City administrator Tim Peterson advised against a special election, noting the low turnout in 2020, when Swanson garnered 84 votes to 14 for Uriah Wilkinson, out of a possible 1,299 registered voters in Ward 3.

“I’m not saying elections aren’t the best way, but with recent history, appointing someone is the most economical way to move forward,” Peterson told the council.

Ward 1 councilor Bunn Carlson asked if the council could simply appoint the write-in candidate with the most votes in November. (Keller had 49 votes to 40 for Erickson.)

They could, Peterson said, but he recommended the council throw open applications to anyone who wanted to apply.

“Then they can all present their ideas to the council and you can make sure it’s a good fit,” he said, noting that the interviews would be scheduled for a work session but open to the public.

Mayor Roger Maki agreed and the council voted unanimously for appointing someone for the next two years.

To apply for the Ward 3 council seat or ask questions, contact Tim Peterson by stopping by Cloquet City Hall, calling 218-879-3347 or emailing [email protected].

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