Following a tumultuous 2020, North Branch City Council member Brian Voss has stepped down from his seat on the council.
“With deep sadness and regret I hereby tender my resignation as Council member for the City of North Branch, effective immediately,” read Voss’ letter of resignation to the council, dated Thursday, Sept. 24.
In the letter, Voss vaguely references his frequent clashes with Mayor Jim Swenson and Council Member Kelly Neider in particular over the course of the last several months. During a June council meeting, Voss was the target of an extended verbal tirade from Swenson over his alleged overspending of the city’s money on consultations with the then city attorney. Shortly following that meeting, now former City Attorney Patrick Doran tendered his resignation. While not going into specifics, Voss states in his letter he is resigning for similar reasons as Doran.
“Departing in the same manner and for the same reasons as our former legal counsel, I cannot in good conscience continue participating alongside a council which habitually finds itself incapable of faithfully discharging its most basic duties, lacking every element of good judgment, making a mockery of the law and continually laying waste to its own Code of Conduct,” continued Voss.
Voss’ resignation comes shortly on the heels of another long, contentious city council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22, where a hearing was held to address allegations made by Voss against Neider for actions she allegedly took while sitting on the North Branch Water & Light Commission. At the end of that meeting, the council voted 3-1 (with Voss casting the lone nay vote) to dismiss those charges.
Since absentee voting has already begun for the Nov. 3 general election, and there are only two candidates running to fill the two open seats on the council, the council will need to ask for applications and appoint someone to replace Voss, either for the remainder of his term, which would have expired on Jan. 1, 2023, or until a special election could be called.
“It is my highest hope that the good citizens of the City of North Branch will produce a competent candidate to replace me,” said Voss in his resignation letter. “One with a steeled resolve and able to successfully combat the rampant corruption and secret dealings which infiltrate and control our city’s elected and appointed officials.
“I encourage our citizens to become more aware of and regularly monitor local government activities, holding their leaders accountable for their action or inaction,” Voss said in conclusion. “Until this occurs North Branch will continue to suffer from mediocre, dishonest and incompetent leadership for which it has become far too accustomed. North Branch deserves better; participate and make it so.”
While Voss has resigned from his seat on the council, he stopped short of withdrawing from the North Branch mayoral race, of which he is now the lone contender to incumbent Mayor Swenson after Gerard Kunz formally withdrew earlier this week.
“At this time I have not officially backed out of the mayoral race,” Voss told the Star in a separate email. “But I have suspended actively campaigning. As such I will not be participating in tonight’s candidate forum.”
When contacted for a reaction to the letter, North Branch Mayor Jim Swenson simply said, “This matter is being referred to the city attorney for review and further action.”