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Council OKs Buness appointment to CHEDA Board; Klatt votes against

Klatt says he doesn't question council's belief that Buness is a 'great guy' who will do a good job, but he says he doesn't personally know him and he'd like to interview potential appointees

Mike Christopherson

The Crookston City Council’s Ways & Means Committee Monday night approved Craig Buness to finish the CHEDA Board of Directors term of Craig Morgan, who’s resigned, but the vote wasn’t unanimous. Ward 6 Council Member Dylane Klatt voted against the appointment, saying that even though everyone raved about Buness during Monday’s discussion, he doesn’t personally know him and he would like to have a chance to “sit down” with potential appointees to various boards, commissions and committees before being asked to vote on them.

    CHEDA Board members serve six-year terms. Buness will serve until Morgan’s term is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021. At that point, he could potentially be nominated to serve a full term.

    Buness, with a background in the trucking industry, is a former city council member and Polk County commissioner. He most recently served on the advisory board assembled by CHEDA Board President Kurt Heldstab to work with Epitome Energy as it navigates the regulatory process with the goal of constructing a large soybean crush and biodiesel facility on Crookston’s southern edge. In the wake of Morgan’s resignation, Mayor Dale Stainbrook said that it was Heldstab who ultimately recommended Buness to fill Morgan’s seat on the board.

    At that point, Klatt asked how the process works, and he wondered if anyone else had shown interest in the CHEDA Board position. Stainbrook said it’s been his practice as mayor, when a seat becomes available on a board, commission or committee, to go to the entity itself and ask its leadership if they have any potential appointees in mind that they think would be the best fit. Stainbrook said he was aware Buness had expressed interest in serving on the CHEDA Board.

    Council members lauded Buness’ experience and the manner in which he conducts business, calling him a “straight-shooter” and someone who “asks a lot of tough questions” and “wants to get to the bottom of everything.” Ward 3 Council Member Clayton Briggs, saying he’s known Buness for many years, called him a “fact-finder.” Ward 4 Council Member Don Cavalier called Buness a “great guy.”

    Klatt said that all sounds great, and he didn’t question the council’s general agreement that Buness is a high-quality individual. But he wondered why there isn’t some sort of interview process in place for those interested in or nominated for various appointments.

    “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t know him,” Klatt said. “…He’s a great guy, but what if I want to ask some questions and he says something I don’t agree with?”

    Stainbrook said interviews haven’t been a typical practice, and that it’s saved him “a lot of legwork” when seats have become available on various boards, commissions and committees and he’s been able to rely on the leadership of those entities to suggest potential appointees.

    “You always want someone who wants to serve,” the mayor continued. “We get people who say (they want to serve) but then they’re not consistent in going to the meetings.”

    If approved, City Administrator Amy Finch said Buness would be able to participate in the CHEDA Board’s next meeting on Dec. 15.

    In voting against the appointment, Klatt said, “I just don’t know the gentleman. When I see these appointments come up, I would like to be able to sit down with these people.”