Posted at: 09/17/2013 11:00 PM
Updated at: 09/17/2013 11:01 PM
By: John Doetkott
Hickey Elected To Rochester City Council After Series of Elections
(ABC 6 News) -- Voters in Rochester headed to the polls on Tuesday to choose a new city council member for ward five.
Mark Hickey was elected to replace the seat held by current City Council President Randy Staver.
Hickey won with 767 votes, defeating Shaun Palmer who took in 587 votes.
“The series of election has been hard on the ward and on the city,” Hickey said. “So I think everyone is glad to be done with it and move on with business of the city.”
And it certainly was a long series of elections, with the process starting more than a year ago.
On June 27th 2012, Rochester City Council President Dennis “Denny” Hanson died suddenly from a brain aneurysm.
“Denny just stepped in and did an outstanding job for years, and stepped up to be one of our great city leaders of all time,” said councilor Ed Hruska in 2012. “He'll be missed."
But because of state law, Hanson's name remained on the November ballot and he would eventually go on to win.
So to fill his seat, the city held a special election this past May, with councilors Randy Staver and Michael Wojcik gaining the most votes, but neither achieving the 50 percent plus one needed to win.
That led to yet another election, which Wojcik withdrew from, leaving Staver as the eventual winner.
“We have so many exciting things ahead of us and that's what I'm really looking forward to,” Staver said following his election. “Let's get down to work."
But in order to fill his seat, the city held another election, and again, neither of the top vote getters received enough of the overall vote to win.
Which brings us to Tuesday night and the election of Hickey to the fifth ward seat, when finally, after nearly 15 months of an incomplete council, all the seats are once again filled.
The prolonged series of elections was very unusual for the state of Minnesota.
It prompted a change in state law this past legislative session to prevent something like this from happening again.
Tuesday’s election also had a low voter turnout with only 12.4 percent of registered voters casting a ballot.