Vacancy on city council to be filled soon

It’s still up in the air when the appointment will be made to fill the two-year vacancy on the city council.

Council member Paul Whitcomb will be installed as mayor, possibly on about Jan. 7, according to City Administrator Mark Karnowski.

Whitcomb is the council member who ran successfully in the November 2012 election for mayor, leaving two years remaining in his council term.

The council advertised, after the election, for candidates to fill out the term and received four applicants – Jules Zimmer, Tim Siercks, Monica Bockoven Hatch and Andrew Schroer.

Zimmer was a Princeton police officer many years ago, later the Mille Lacs County Sheriff and finally chief of police in North Branch before leaving law enforcement.

Siercks is a downtown business owner, is on the city’s planning commission and was recently chosen by the Mille Lacs County Agricultural Society to operate Princeton Speedway.

Hatch has been part of the local Civic Betterment Club, Friends of the Library and Mille Lacs County Historical Society. Schroer has a business background in Princeton.

The council interviewed Zimmer on December 26, and the other three candidates the next day.

“They are all good candidates and it will be a hard choice,” said council member Dick Dobson the day after the last interviews.

He was asked when the council may make the appointment and whether it will be by written ballot or by oral vote. He said city consulting attorney Dick Schieffer was looking into the legalities for when to appoint and how.

Karnowski and Dobson indicated that if the council votes by written ballot, each council member would sign the ballot and the ballots would be kept on record if someone in the public wanted to examine them later.

The questions the council asked the candidates included:

• about the candidate’s background.

• why they applied.

• why they might be the best candidate.

• what the candidate sees as the city’s assets and liabilities.

• what they might change in anything the council put into effect in the past 20 years.

• whether the candidate would want to run for a full council term after finishing the two years.

• how the candidate feels about giving incentives to bring a business into Princeton.

• what might the candidate consider as highlights they had on any committees or boards.

Karnowski put together the initial list of questions and then had the council make any changes.