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Recall Ron Committee will abide by City Attorney’s opinion

Wayne Nelson, right, chairman of the Recall Ron Committee presents a petition Aug. 4 to acting Willmar city administrator Kevin Halliday. The committee has decided not appeal an attorney’s opinion that their petition to recall Councilman Ron Christianson was invalid. File | Tribune

WILLMAR — The “Recall Ron Committee” has decided not appeal an attorney’s opinion that their petition to recall Councilman Ron Christianson was invalid.

“We have no desire to file a lawsuit against our own city, which is what an appeal would mean,” the committee stated in a press release issued over the weekend by Committee Chairman Wayne Nelson. “While the Recall Ron Committee is of course disappointed by the opinion of the City Attorney, we will respect his decision and the recall process under the city charter as we have from the beginning.”

Earlier this month the committee submitted a recall petition after they had spent about three months gathering nearly 900 signatures — which was more than the required 737 needed — claiming that Christianson had committed three acts of malfeasance and therefore should be removed from office in a recall election.

But after the petition was submitted, Willmar City Attorney Robert Scott determined that the claims of Christianson’s wrong-doing listed in the recall petition — even if they were found to be true — wouldn’t constitute malfeasance or nonfeasance.

Because the alleged claims didn’t meet the “high bar” the state sets for removing local elected officials from office, Scott said the petition was invalid.

The community will have to “live with that result,” the committee said.

In previous statements, the veteran Ward 2 city councilman said he was pleased the petition was invalid and said the committee’s “attempt to remove me from office by recall was a misuse of the provisions of our city charter.”

In their latest statement the recall committee members said “regular citizens” who have “honest concerns” about the integrity and actions of their elected officials have the right to seek their removal from office.

“We continue to believe that violating the open meeting law, benefitting personally by exploiting conflicts of interest, and putting city workers in danger constitutes malfeasance and nonfeasance on the part of a public official,” the committee said.

Christianson has repeatedly denied the committee’s claims.

In their statement, the committee said they did not level a “single personal attack” against Christianson but based their claims on Christian’s actions as a public official.

Despite being “respectful” during the process the committee said they were characterized as “a small group of disgruntled, bitter people” by some of Christianson’s supporters.

“We hope the true colors of all involved have been made clear to the people of Willmar,” they said.

The committee thanked supporters for their efforts

“We are confident that the people of Willmar are paying close attention to the words and deeds of their elected officials,” they said.

“We are confident that positive change is coming to Willmar, and our group will continue to work to make it so.”

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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