Marquette will have special election

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The Marquette Council agreed, at a special meeting March 1, to hold a special election to fill one council seat along with the office of mayor. 

Larry Breuer was appointed mayor and Steve Eagle a council member at the city’s Feb. 16 regular meeting, filling the seats vacated at the end of January by the resignations of David Schneider as mayor and Rinda Ferguson as a council member.

Following the appointments of Breuer and Eagle, Marquette residents petitioned to hold a special election to fill the positions, collecting enough signatures to equal at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last city election.

According to Marquette city clerk Sue Weipert, 126 residents voted in the last election. Around 50 signatures were collected, she noted.

Breuer questioned the need for a special election, stating that he thought a legitimate cause was necessary. City attorney Jim Garrett said there is no such requirement, that state code says, if a valid petition is filed, the council shall grant a special election.

The council was slow to make a motion to hold the special election, with John Ries eventually making the motion, which Eagle seconded. Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald voted with Ries and Eagle to move forward with the special election, while councilwomen Cindy Halvorson and Eleanor Soulli voted “no.”

The special election will be held Tuesday, April 5. For those interested in running for either position, the filing period is open until Friday, March 11, at 5 p.m. To be placed on the ballot, candidates must collect 10 signatures. Papers must be turned in to the auditor’s office in Elkader.

Mobile home at Timber Ridge

At the special meeting, the city presented property owner David Evans and his attorney, Anne Kruse, with an agreement  that “will accommodate Evans’ ability to complete his new home while residing in the temporary residential structure and will assure the city that the new home will be completed and the other residential structure removed by a certain date.”

Kruse requested time to review the agreement.

“I think this is a good start, that finding a way to enter into an agreement rather than continue to fight is a good resolution,” she said.

The discussion was tabled until the council’s next meeting.

Bench evacuation route

City manager Dean Hilgerson updated the council on the city’s efforts to develop an emergency evacuation route off the bench, noting that 10 RFPs were sent out to engineering firms, with five expressing interest so far. The deadline to submit proposals to the city is Thursday, March 31, he said.

Attorney

Hilgerson also updated the council on the search for a new city attorney, stating that 31 requests were sent out. There was one letter of interest at that time, he said, adding that the deadline was Friday, March 4. Breuer said he contacted one attorney and put in calls to some others.

This topic was also tabled until the next meeting.

Social time

Hoping to get more residents involved, Breuer brought up the idea of holding a half-hour social period before regular council meetings.

“We can meet people and visit to get your ideas on what you think about things,” he said, adding that free donuts and coffee could be available.

Garrett said there is no problem with that as long as the time is strictly social and that the refreshments are paid for by the city or provided by a council member.

 The council agreed to hold the social time quarterly and see how it goes.

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