The North Branch City Council reversed their thinking from the previous time they needed to appoint someone to fill a vacated seat nearly two years ago. At that time, when they were tasked with filling the open seat created when Jim Swenson was elected mayor with two years remaining on his council term, the council chose to go with someone who had prior council experience in Joel McPherson.
This time, when it came time to appoint someone to fill Brian Voss’ vacated seat, with the applicants featuring the same range of experience, they chose to go with a fresh face in Patrick Meacham among himself, Robert Canada, Peter Schaps, and Sean Peterson.
The four applicants were interviewed on Nov. 12, with the council discussing the pros and cons of each during a special meeting on Nov. 17. While each council member stated all four are well qualified to fill the position, it was Meacham who garnered a majority of their attention.
“There is one candidate that sticks out in my mind as being prepared for everything that’s gone on,” said McPherson.
Mayor Swenson noted Meacham had applied for the open seat the previous time, and when he wasn’t selected to that position, he almost immediately applied, and was appointed to the Planning Commission. Council members Kathy Blomquist and Kelly Neider agreed with Swenson that Meacham has done a very good job while on the Planning Commission.
After a brief discussion, McPherson made a motion to appoint Meacham, which was seconded by Blomquist. In his motion, McPherson was the first to bring up going with a “younger” voice.
“We need to encourage younger people to be involved,” added Blomquist. “This would be a way to bring a younger voice to the council.”
Neider, however, who wound up casting the lone vote against Meacham, disagreed. “I agree that gray hair brings wisdom, but we’re not dumb,” she said. “So the fact there’s some of us here that a little older, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with that. Just because we are a bit older and mature, it doesn’t disqualify us from being effective.
“I do know that I would have never served in this capacity with small children, because of the time needed for the commissions you serve on and the time needed to study the packets...as a mom, I just wouldn’t have done it,” she added. In his application, Meacham mentioned being a father of a four-year-old and six-month-old.
She concluded by saying either Canada or Schaps would have been her first choice, “but obviously that’s not the case tonight, so again, I think that you will do a fine job, Mr. Meacham.”
The final vote was 3-1 in favor of appointing Meacham. He was scheduled to be sworn in at the beginning of the council’s Nov. 24 meeting.