Longtime councilman, mayor named to vacancy
Five individuals--all with impressive records of public service--stepped forward to express interest in a vacant Perham City Council seat. The one-year position was open due to the recent death of longtime city councilman Jerome Boedigheimer. At ...
Five individuals--all with impressive records of public service--stepped forward to express interest in a vacant Perham City Council seat.
The one-year position was open due to the recent death of longtime city councilman Jerome Boedigheimer. At the end of 2008, the seat will appear on the ballot and a councilmember will be elected.
A bit of local nostalgia played a role in the council ultimately selecting Jim Johnson. Johnson was a councilman in the late 1980's. He stepped up to run for mayor. His council seat was vacated, which Jerome Boedigheimer assumed--in 1991.
"It would be a fitting tribute to have him (Johnson) finish out the council position that he helped create...and Jerome filled when he took office," said Mayor Kevin Keil, at the Nov. 28 city council meeting.
Johnson was a three term council member and a one term mayor. Councilman Boedigheimer went on to serve from 1992 to until his death in October 2007.
"I have known Jerome Boedigheimer since we attended Perham High School together," wrote Johnson in a letter to the city. "My goal would be to finish his term and support the programs that were so important to him."
Johnson added that he had no agenda, that he has past experience, and that he understands the time commitment necessary to serve on the council.
The five who expressed interest in the seat were Johnson; former councilman Bill Parks; Fred Lehmkuhl, the city's volunteer emergency-disaster management coordinator; local dentist Mike Hamann; and Perham emergency services director Jim Rieber.
Hamann and Rieber were quickly eliminated from the field of candidates. Both serve on the Perham school board. Under state law, an elected official can't serve on two elected government units with common interests and inter-related contracts. Also, both the school board and the city council have taxing authority--which is another potential conflict.
With two out of the picture, councilmembrers breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"When we had five candidates, it was almost a tougher decision than picking the city manager," commented councilmember Tim Meehl, referring to the recent selection of a new city administrative leader--which involved a difficult choice between two local candidates and one from outside the community.
"I'd love to serve on the panel," said Bill Parks, who didn't seek re-election to his seat two years ago. Having served most recently, Parks said he felt that he would be a logical choice, because he has familiarity with city issues and projects of recent years. "My family thinks I'm nuttier than a fruitcake," for wanting to get back into city government, laughed Parks.
"I would enjoy having you back on the council," commented councilmember Harriet Mattfeld. But she initially favored Lehmkuhl, because he would be a completely new individual on the council, and may be more likely to continue on in the November 2008 election.
"Not one of these candidates is better than another...All would be capable of moving the community forward," said Mayor Keil, who also said that all three are "strong Perham supporters. You couldn't go wrong with any of them."
Councilmember Anita Mycke ultimately made a motion to appoint Jim Johnson. When it came to a vote, it was unanimous.
There was also a new face in the council chambers for the Nov. 28 meeting.
Recently appointed city manager Kelcey Klemm sat in on the session, even though he won't officially assume the post until mid December. Current Frazee city manager Klemm has attended a number of Perham meetings recently, in preparation for his new position. Klemm replaces Bob Louiseau, who took a position as city manager in Detroit Lakes.