Council splits over EDC appointee
WILLMAR — Three Willmar City Council members tried but failed Monday night to defeat Mayor Frank Yanish’s appointment of Republican state legislative hopeful Linda Kacher to the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission’s Operations Board.
A motion was made by Steve Ahmann and seconded by Tim Johnson to approve Yanish’s appointment of Kacher to the EDC Operations Board along with three other mayoral appointees to other boards.
But Denis Anderson offered a motion, seconded by Bruce DeBlieck, to remove Kacher’s name from a list of appointees in Monday night’s consent items. The motion failed.
Anderson denied a charge that his motivation was political, but he said Kacher is running for the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Kacher is an announced candidate seeking Republican Party endorsement at the March 8 convention in Willmar to run against Rep. Mary Sawatzky, DFL-Willmar, in the Nov. 4 general election.
Anderson said he did not think it was appropriate “that we have a candidate being put on our board. I’m not in favor of it. Maybe you (referring to Mayor Yanish) want to withdraw that. I don’t think it’s appropriate.’’
Yanish said he had no intention of withdrawing Kacher’s name and said no response was given when the council approved his appointment of former state Sen. Joe Gimse to the Municipal Utilities Commission.
Anderson said Gimse was not in office when he was appointed. But Anderson said Kacher is running “and it just doesn’t seem right to me.’’
Jim Dokken asked City Attorney Robert Scott for his opinion, and Scott said he was not aware of any legal prohibition to appoint someone who is running for a different office to the EDC board.
Johnson said he understood Anderson’s concerns. But in the interest of consistency he recalled former council member Doug Reese held office while he ran as a candidate to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.
“I don’t know where one’s OK and the other isn’t,’’ he said.
Anderson said the issue was not about Kacher but said it was about the situation.
“It does not seem appropriate to appoint a person who is running for office like her to one of our boards and commissions. It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t fit well with me,’’ he said.
Scott opined that the matter was an issue for the council to decide.
Audrey Nelsen offered a motion to table Kacher’s appointment until after today’s political caucuses to see if Kacher receives any support. But the motion failed 2-5 with Nelsen and DeBlieck in favor and Steve Ahmann, Rick Fagerlie, Anderson, Dokken and Johnson opposed. Ron Christianson was absent.
The council then returned to the motion to approve the four mayoral appointments, but without the appointment of Shirley Carter to the Zoning Appeals Board. Yanish said he was pulling Carter’s appointment because Carter did not want to serve on that board.
Carter was Yanish’s first choice a month ago for the EDC appointment. But he pulled the nomination at the Jan. 6 meeting, saying he had another individual in mind but did not identify the individual as Kacher until the agenda was posted last week.
DeBlieck said he asked Yanish after the Jan. 6 council meeting why he pulled Carter’s appointment.
“I asked your reasoning for removing her name. Your comment was that she was probably too liberal to be on that commission,’’ DeBlieck said.
“I don’t recall that,’’ Yanish said. “I feel the best choice is Linda Kacher.’’
(In a Jan. 28 Tribune story, Kacher described herself as a “very fiscally conservative candidate.”
The council then voted 6-1 to approve Kacher and the other three appointees with Nelsen casting the lone “no’’ vote.
Anderson pointed out that mayoral appointments are only recommendations to the EDC Joint Powers Board and are approved there.