Charter Commission discusses variety of topics, no formal action under any business item

The Bemidji Charter Commission met for the third consecutive month last night and discussed a range of topics, from redistricting to ranked-choice voting.

No formal action was taken on any item under regular business.

The commissioners accepted public comment from Emelie Rivera, who noted she appeared as a citizen, not a council member.

She asked the commissioners to reconsider their decision of having the city council interpret the ballot question on when the four-year mayoral term began. 

In regular business, Commissioner Don Heinonen was tasked with researching the use of ranked-choice voting to fill council vacancies, due to the length of time a seat is vacant after resignation with the state’s special election timeline restrictions.

Since 2020, there have been three resignations from the city council, with Ward 2’s Mike Beard in Jan. 2020, the late at-large council member Jim “Doc” Thompson in June 2020, and Ward 5’s Nancy Erickson in Sept. 2021.

Ranked-choice voting would eliminate the need for a primary.

The commissioners also considered establishing a sort of policy for an appointment to the council, especially as a place-holder in between the resignation and the special election.

Applications to be on the Charter Commission are currently being accepted through April 29.

The Charter Commission is required to meet at least once a year in June.

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