With a 5-0 vote, the Wahpeton City Council decided to leave an open council position vacant.
Jason Goltz, Wahpeton, inquired about being appointed to represent the 2nd Ward. Had he been approved, Goltz would have served the final months of an expiring term of office.
The 2nd Ward council position is one of five which will be decided when Wahpeton holds its next elections on Tuesday, June 9. Ballots will include races for two at-large council positions and one position each representing residents in Wahpeton’s 2nd Ward, 3rd Ward and 4th Ward.
“If you don’t ask, the answer’s always going to be no,” said Goltz, who is preparing to run for the 2nd Ward position. “I do understand, considering (a present term) would have only been for a very short time period, anyway.”
Wahpeton has been without 2nd Ward representation since Councilwoman Renelle Bertsch resigned in September 2019.
“When a vacancy occurs in close proximity to a regularly scheduled election, the council often chooses to wait for the election cycle to choose a candidate,” Finance Director Darcie Huwe said.
Earlier in January, former 3rd Ward Councilman Brett Lambrecht resigned from office. He did so because his current primary residence is not in the 3rd Ward. Lambrecht also plans to run in the June elections, Daily News previously reported.
“The reason I put my name in was when I found out about Brett’s resignation. I thought there was a chance they wouldn’t want two empty seats,” Goltz said.
Since early January, Wahpeton has had a six-member city council. Prior to September 2019, the council had eight members.
The now vacant 3rd Ward council position has a term expiring in 2022. In previous election years, an appointed office holder has the choice to run for election for the remaining years of an unexpired council or park board term. Candidates seeking the 3rd Ward office would be running for a two-year term, not a full four-year term.
Petitions to run for the Wahpeton City Council or Wahpeton Park Board are due to the city auditor by 4 p.m. April 6, 2020. For more information, contact Wahpeton City Hall at 701-642-8448.
In other news, Councilwoman at-large Tiana Bohn and Community Development Director Chris DeVries provided additional information and clarification regarding recently reported comments.
Discussing the upcoming Optimum Rehab physical therapy office earlier in January, DeVries said it would provide “something new we don’t have in Wahpeton.” Residents responded by naming physical therapy providers including Sanford Health, Essentia Health and OSPTI.
“Sanford and Essentia both have physical therapy services,” Bohn said Tuesday. “This would not be a new offering to town, it would just be a new business.”
“It’s not a new offering in town, but it is something new,” DeVries said. “It won’t be the only one, but it will still be something that’s different than what is offered in town.”
With a 5-0 vote, the council approved allocating up to $5,882.47 to assist with Optimum Rehab. Owner Tony Eggiman will be required to being paying back the money in five years. Located at 108 Seventh St. S., Wahpeton, Optimum Rehab is expected to open in March.
The council also voted 5-0 to approve allocating up to $19,240.86 to assist in the purchase and remodeling of the Driftwood Lounge. The project also requires payback beginning in five years. The Driftwood Lounge, located at 326 Dakota Ave., is presently owned by Kathy and Dudley Gordon.
Councilman Rory McCann, 1st Ward, was absent from the meeting.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.