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Special election set Aug. 22

Briana Sanchez / Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — An Aug. 22 special election will choose the seventh member of the Willmar School Board.

The board has had a vacancy since the unexpected death of Chairman Jared Anez in mid-March. Anez, 45, was found unresponsive at a Willmar gym after a workout.

The School Board decided at a special meeting Monday to hold the special election as soon as possible to fill the vacancy. Superintendent Jeff Holm said he had learned that state law would require a special election even if the board appointed a new member.

Filing for the seat opens May 16 and closes May 30. Candidates interested in running may file for office during business hours in the district at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. There is a $2 filing fee.

In the past, school boards could fill vacancies by appointment. State law was changed several years ago, and a special election is now needed.

Holm said he was told the board could appoint a new board member but then would have to hold a special election Nov. 7, the traditional general election day. The appointed member might serve only a few months before the election.

The Minnesota School Board Association was "really clear with me that the intent of the change in state law ... was that the voice of the voters be heard," Holm said.

Board members said they favored holding a special election without making an appointment. Holm said that route would ensure that the same person would hold the seat until the end of 2018, when Anez's term would have ended.

With timelines laid out in state law, the soonest the district could have a special election would be Aug. 22, Holm said.

The board passed a resolution calling the special election and passed another setting filing dates.

For most special elections, the district has used one polling place at WEAC. However, a bill in the Legislature could change that. It could require that every polling place in a jurisdiction be open for a special election. The district has 27 precincts.

If that proposal goes into law, county officials have said that the district would need to hire 10 times as many election judges, Holm said, and the district could have a bill of $50,000 for a special election.

In other business, the board awarded a contract for roofing in the district to Jackson and Associates of White Bear Lake, the lowest bidder among a field of eight.

The contract for roofing projects on Roosevelt and Kennedy elementary schools and Willmar Senior High School is $1.8 million. The second-lowest bidder was at $2.3 million.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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