So far, Plante is the only interested council candidate to express interest, and only four ward residents have said they’ll serve on the interview committee

    With a week to go until the City of Crookston-imposed Jan. 15 deadline for Ward 6 residents to express interest in either serving their ward on the city council or serving on a committee that would interview and help select a council member from the ward, response to the City’s efforts to generate interest has been lukewarm.

    City Administrative Assistant Tina Trostad tells the Times that, as of Tuesday, Jan. 7, only Chris Plante had submitted his name as a candidate to be considered for the Ward 6 seat on the council, vacant since last fall when Cindy Gjerswold, elected in November 2018 resigned, because her family was moving outside city limits.

    Plante is the Ward 6 resident who fell one vote short in November of being appointed by the council to fill the vacancy. The city charter requires at least five votes in favor for any resolution to be approved, and the Ward 6 vacancy, coupled with Ward 5 council member and vice mayor Dale Stainbrook serving as mayor in the wake of Guy Martin’s resignation – the mayor doesn’t vote on council resolutions unless there’s a tie – that left the council with only six voting members. With council members Clayton Briggs and Don Cavalier voting against Plante’s appointment, that left the vote 4-2 in favor of Plante’s appointment.

    In addition to seeking interest from Ward 6 residents in serving on the council, the City is looking for residents of the ward to serve on a committee that will interview candidates for the seat. The council in late 2019 established a minimum committee size of 11, but Trostad tells the Times that, as of Jan. 7, only four Ward 6 residents had expressed interest in serving on the committee.
    
Modified approach

    Plante initially expressed interest in serving on the council, along with fellow Ward 6 residents Dylane Klatt and Patty Dillabough. They were interviewed one early fall evening in the city hall council members by a committee of some council members and a couple Ward 6 residents who agreed to help out. After the interviews and a significant debate that had the trio of candidates rising and falling in committee member rankings, Plante was the preferred choice, with only Cavalier voting against.

    But when it came time for the council to vote on Plante’s appointment, Briggs had a change of heart and was able to convince the council to table the Plante vote for two weeks so “concerns” about him could be further researched. After those two weeks passed and the Plante vote was back on the agenda, the tally was 4-2.

    So this time around, in order to give Ward 6 residents more say, the council and Stainbrook agreed that no council members will serve on the interview committee. In deciding to go with that strategy, there was even talk of the council agreeing beforehand to approve whatever Ward 6 resident  emerged from the committee as its selection, but City Attorney Charles “Corky” Reynolds strongly advised the council against going that route, saying that ceding the council’s authority would go against the charter. So the council and Stainbrook, while maintaining no council presence on the committee, will still have the final say on who, if anyone, fills the Ward 6 seat.

    The goal at that point was to have someone sworn in by the council’s first meeting in February.

    Also as part of the second attempt to fill the seat, the City sent letters to all Ward 6 residents, encouraging their interest in either serving on the council or being a part of the interview committee. The deadline for interest to be expressed in the council seat, in the form of a letter sent to city hall, is 4 p.m. on Jan. 15. The deadline is the same for those interested in serving on the committee, but a call to city hall at 281-1232 will suffice for that.

    The letter from the City indicates that interviews would be conducted in a Jan. 21-23 window.