Hutchinson City Council Seat 3

Hutchinson City Council members will conduct interviews with 10 candidates interested in filling a council vacancy on an interim basis. Everyone with a stake in the council should pay attention to that process.

If you’re interested in serving on the Hutchinson City Council, now’s your chance. The council has officially begun looking for candidates to fill Council Member Brandon Begnaud’s seat on an interim basis.

Begnaud, who was elected to a four-year term in 2020, previously announced his intent to move to South Dakota with his family. City Council officially accepted his resignation during Tuesday’s meeting and declared a vacancy would begin July 16. With that, the process of finding his successor began immediately.

City Council members agreed the best way to find a candidate to fill the seat until a special election would be to invite residents to complete a survey similar to that which is used to fill committees. The form is available at Hutchinson City Center, 111 Hassan St. S.E., and online at ci.hutchinson.mn.us. The Leader has also made the form available at hutchinsonleader.com.

The form must be filled out and submitted to the city's administration offices at City Center by the end of the day July 9. Candidates must be 21 or older, must have been a resident of Hutchinson for at least 30 days prior to being appointed, and must be eligible to vote within Minnesota. The person chosen will assume their duties in middle to late July and will be expected to serve until after special election results are certified.

As of Monday morning, Melissa Starke, city administrative coordinator, said she had received one interest form from Justin Doering.

Choosing who fills the interim position falls to the entire City Council. The four remaining members, including Mayor Gary Forcier, will vote on candidates in accordance with the city charter, Hutchinson City Administrator Matt Jaunich said. If there is a tie, Forcier will appoint someone to the seat.

Council members previously wondered whether Begnaud could be part of the voting process to choose an interim candidate. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office, state law prohibits outgoing council members from participating. However, Begnaud did weigh in on the process in a prepared statement earlier this month.

"I feel it would be inappropriate and unfair to the voters who filled this seat to appoint anyone who has a clear history of, or who has clearly demonstrated opposite standings and representations from my own," he said.

The Secretary of State's Office also provided clarity regarding election date rules. 

A special election will be needed to fill the remainder of Begnaud's term. Because the state limits when such special elections can be held to specific dates, the earliest possible day is Nov. 2. However, that date must be reserved for a primary election if more than two candidates come forward.

Jaunich said based on past elections, he anticipates there will be a primary to narrow down candidates to two choices. Regardless, the special election to fill the seat will occur Feb. 8, 2022.

Residents with questions regarding the interest form or upcoming special election may call Starke at 320-234-4202 or email mstarke@ci.hutchinson.mn.us.