Nobody files for mayor, council seats in wake of Hartland controversy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 1, 2002

The November election in the City of Hartland will be an extraordinary one, having no candidates for mayor or an empty city council seat.

No candidates filed for the two posts by the September deadline, so the write-in votes will determine the outcome. And the vote count will be by hand, requiring a lot of patience by election staff.

The unprecedented resignation of three city officials in June &045; Mayor Laura Frederick, Councilor Roger Solberg and City Clerk Joanne Phillips &045; underlies this anomaly. The officials left their positions, displeased by the way the Firemen’s Association fund is handled.

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The $4,400 fund raised through charity activities and raffles by the local volunteer firefighters became a topic dispute when Frederick tried to tighten the city’s control over it, officials say.

The firefighters transferred the fund from a new account, of which the association is the sole holder, to prevent the mayor’s intervention.

After half of city officials quit, the city council appointed Councilor Kyle Reed as mayor and Greg Recknor and Ray Mielke to the council member positions.

Reed and Recknor did not file for reelection, and neither did the resigned officials. The result is two seats for which nobody wants to run.

County Auditor/Treasurer Dennis Distad is not sure that this is the first case in the county where a mayoral election needs to be done by write-in, but affirmed that it’s &uot;very unusual.&uot;

Hartland is one of four cities in the county that chose not to be on the county ballot, meaning votes will be counted locally. City Clerk Penny Bell, who took over Phillips’ position, is preparing for every possible happening on Nov. 5.

&uot;It will be a long process,&uot; Bell said. The election officials basically need to read all ballots, and refer to the voter’s registration lists to check the name and spelling of write-in votes.

Those who win the write-in election do not have to accept the result. In that case, the city council will have to decide to either have another election or appoint the mayor and councilor, according to Bell.