Four to vie for open North Branch council seat

As the normal races for political office are taking place, a different “race” is being held to fill the recently vacated North Branch City Council seat through an application, interview, and appointment process.

The seat was vacated when Brian Voss abruptly resigned, leaving with just over two years remaining on his term. As they had done to fill a council seat when now Mayor Jim Swenson won that election while he still had two years remaining on his council seat, the remaining council members opted to go with the appointment process over holding a special election, which wouldn’t have been able to take place during the general election.

Following the Oct. 30 deadline, four interested residents turned in their applications to be considered for the vacant seat, with three of those names being familiar to North Branch government, and one being a newcomer. The following applicants will be interviewed during a special meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12:

Peter Schaps, who has unsuccessfully run for a council seat before. He was most recently the chair of the North Branch Water & Light Commission before stepping down when the Commission was changed to a five-person commission.

Robert Canada is a former council member. During the 2018 election, he chose to run for mayor instead of rerunning for a council seat, where he lost to Swenson. Canada also applied to be appointed to the council to fill Swenson’s vacated seat, but the council chose Joel McPherson instead.

Patrick Meacham also applied to be appointed to Swenson’s seat. He is currently serving on the North Branch Planning Commission.

Sean Peterson is the lone applicant that doesn’t have a history with North Branch government.

After the interviews, the council will vote to appoint one of the four during a special meeting on Nov. 17. The appointee will be formally sworn in at the beginning of the Nov. 24 meeting.

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