RED WING -- The City Council returned to in-person meetings on Monday, June 14, and several residents took that opportunity to voice opinions about the petitions for a recall.
The meeting was about petitions to hold recall elections for Council members Evan Brown and Erin Buss. Previously, petitions to recall Andy Klitzke and Laurel Stinson and Council President Becky Norton were submitted.
The Recall City Hall committee said in a release on Tuesday, June 1, after the city affirmed that the petitions had the required number of signatures to be considered by the council:
“The city’s decision to affirm the citizen petitions to recall Council members Evan Brown and Erin Buss underscores the judgment of literally thousands of Red Wing residents that it’s time to return city government to the people. The Recall City Hall campaign vows to redouble its grassroots and legal efforts to replace the current Council with representatives who respect open, transparent government responsive to our citizens.”
Here are a few comments from the Monday, June 14 meeting:
In favor of recall
Paul Kampe: The current City Council recall effort represents a monumental achievement by Red Wing citizens, think about it; Democrats, independents and Republicans all working together, amassed more than 6,000 signatures from more than 2,200 different residents. These 1000’s of signatures represent accountants, construction workers, doctors, educators and small business owners. And these 1000’s of signatures also represent families and college students, single parents, stay-at-home parents and widows from Main Street to Water Street, from the east side to Burnside. Red Wing residents are trying to make their voices heard.
Opposing these 1000’s of citizens and their right to a special election, opposing these citizens and residents that these elected officials report to represents a complete opposition to a grassroots democratic process, which we always all advocate for. And failure to give citizens this choice is failure to hear their voice.
George Hintz: Section 6.5 of the Red Wing City Charter directs that a recall election shall be held upon a finding of procedural sufficiency by the city clerk. This is not a discretionary right to be doled out by the City Council when it sees fit. The purpose of a recall election is to give the voters a chance to choose whether the action of a council member merits removal from office. The notion… that the voters recall power may be negated by the very target of the recall itself is absurd on its face.
Against a recall
Peggy Hansen: I'm here tonight in support of you, the Red Wing City Council. In particular, I support my representative Evan Brown, who I voted for most recently in the 2020 election. Public election is how we choose those we want to represent our voices. I do not appreciate a self-appointed group trying to invalidate my vote.
Marilyn Nelson: My husband Steve and I fully support Council members Brown and Buss, as well as the other members of our duly elected City Council, who are the subject of the recall. We respect them for their courage and integrity in the face of what we feel is a misguided recall attempt by some whose political views have not been supported as they might wish, and who disapprove of the dismissal of Police Chief Pohlman. They appear to have seized upon an unfounded open meeting violation in an attempt, essentially, to overturn an election. This recall process is serving to further divide our community and to hinder our council from performing the duties to which they were elected. We fear it may also discourage other qualified individuals from in the future seeking public office in Red Wing.
Becky Norton: I'm going to address one of the comments that came up about secret meetings and whether we could or couldn't have them. I want to be very clear that legally we cannot have personnel meetings publicly unless that person requests to make them publicly, that is protected by that employee’s government data privacy act. … We're obligated to have those in closed session unless they're requested by that member to have them as open.
Dean Hove: We didn’t do anything wrong, we did exactly what our city attorney told us to do, followed Minnesota law. I’m really frustrated that these are allegations, there’s no proof to any of this stuff.