Dead Man Elected to Spring Park City Council
Mayor and council members will make an appointment to fill the seat won by John Ericson during last week's elections.
John Ericson defeated his opponent by more than a 2:1 margin last week to win a seat on the Spring Park City Council, but the 75-year-old lifelong resident of Lake Minnetonka never saw the final results.
Ericson died unexpectedly two days before Election Day, leaving behind a wife, five children, a small army of grand kids and an open city council chair.
"It was very sudden, and we were all surprised," Spring Park Mayor Sara Reinhardt said. "John had served as a planning commissioner for several years, and he did a great job. We were all looking forward to him joining the city council."
Under normal circumstances a special election would be held to fill the seat, but Ericson's race was already a special election—being run after Tom Scanlon stepped down as council member last year.
Mayor Reinhardt said the city has been in regular contact with the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office and has been advised that the city council should make an appointment, rather than conduct another special election.
"We've been told that an appointment is the appropriate action to take in this situation," Reinhardt said. "Not to mention how costly it would be for a city our size to hold another election for one position. The turnout would be very low."
Spring Park City Administrator Dan Tolsma said the city would likely begin taking applications in the next few weeks from those interested in the position. From there, the final selection would be based on a majority vote by the city council.
While deceased candidates being elected to office is rare, it does happen. In fact, the city of Rochester had a similar situation occur in their race for city council this year. However, the candidate who won died several months before Election Day.
"They are a little different because they're a charter city," Spring Park City Administrator Dan Tolsma said. "Amazingly we're not the only city dealing with this type of situation. It's very interesting."
Tolsma said the council would discuss the appointment process at length during its regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 19.
Mayor Reinhardt, who ran unopposed in her bid for another term this year, said she would like to get the process moving as fast as possible.
"In my mind i would certainly like to take applications and get an interview process going," Mayor Reinhardt said. "I'd like to get that all lined up so that by January we have someone to fill the position."