Wanted: Mayoral candidate for Caledonia
Nobody filed for city leader posts
By Joshua Lynsen
CALEDONIA -- For the first time in decades, Caledonia voters must write all their choices for city leaders on ballots.
City Clerk Robert Nelson said nobody filed to become mayor or fill either of two open city council seats. The situation is unusual for this Houston County city of 3,000 people. Nelson said for the last 20 years, at least one person has filed for each open position.
Robert Burns, the city's retiring mayor, said it's unclear why nobody filed for any of the three positions.
"I don't know if it's a situation if people are happy with the way things are, or if they don't want to take the time to be involved, or if they're involved in different things," he said. "Some people don't want to take on any more and some people just don't have the time."
Burns said he decided to retire because he grew weary of days that stretched from a 4 a.m. wake-up time to a 7 p.m. meeting time.
"My wife says I'm not able to burn the candle at both ends like I used to," he said.
Nelson and Burns have encouraged write-in campaigns in Caledonia, but only one person has responded. Bob Standish, a former Caledonia school board member, is seeking a council seat.
"My feeling is, you know, a lot of people are willing to talk the talk, but not many are willing to walk the walk," Standish said. "You can't do anything if you don't get involved."
Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said the situation could force city officials to use an obscure state statute: If no votes are cast, the Caledonia City Council would appoint people to fill the positions.
Burns said if asked, he would consider serving again. But the mayor said he's disappointed nobody else is interested in the job.
"I did not anticipate that we would have no one for any of the positions," he said. "It's a disappointment that there aren't that many people who are willing to participate in local government."
Staff writer John Weiss contributed to this report.