Falcon Heights headed for new mayor

Appoint or not to appoint new member, still a question

Falcon Heights City Council member Randy Gustafson is set to resign from his seat and then be appointed as mayor on March 27.

The council landed on that course of action during its March 13 meeting as a way to deal with Peter Lindstrom's resignation as mayor earlier this month.

Just what the council will look like through the end of the year will then be discussed after Gustafson is sworn in as the city's new top official.

Lindstrom dated his letter of resignation March 4, having been appointed by Gov. Tim Walz to the Metropolitan Council for District 10. He officially joined the Met Council on March 6.

His exit came after nearly two decades on the Falcon Heights council; Lindstrom was appointed to it as a member in January 2000, then elected as mayor in 2007.

Gustafson's elevation to mayor will open up a seat on the council, which is where the plans become less certain. 
The council during its March 13 meeting wasn't in agreement as to whether it would appoint a replacement for Gustafson, or let the vacancy ride through the end of the year.

Council member Pamela Harris, herself appointed last year, said she was open to sticking with a four-person council, especially with the busy and complicated city budget season looming.

"Would it be better, more efficient, to skip that [appointment] step and just let someone run for the office in the fall?" she asked.

Gustafson offered himself up to fill in as mayor because his council term is up at the end of the year. He'll serve as mayor through the end of Lindstrom's elected term, which is also finished Dec. 31.

Part of his rationale for filling in as mayor was to minimize the amount of disruption on the council. Lindstrom's resignation or not, three seats are up for election this fall, including Harris's. Opening up the seat of a council member with more time left on their term beyond the end of this year would have meant even more contingency planning.

Gustafson, crime prevention coordinator with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, was elected to the council in 2015. He co-chaired the city's Inclusion and Policing Task Force, which was convened to address issues brought to the fore by the police killing of Philando Castile in 2016.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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