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Red Wing mayor affirms decision to resign

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RED WING — Embattled Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan told the city council on Monday he plans to resign on April 1 and will work in the meantime to ensure a smooth transition.

Egan, who runs a lobbying firm Egan Public Affairs, will continue as executive director for the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, the job that created a firestorm of criticism about the a potential conflict of interest earlier this month. He first announced his plans to step down on Friday.

The mayor offered a brief statement at the council meeting.

He said that he plans to submit his written letter of resignation, effective April 1, to city staff this week and "to work with council and staff on the transition period to make sure there are no gaps." Egan said that he'll continue to work for the "betterment and long-term good of the city of Red Wing."

The city will have 85 days — from the day the mayor's written resignation is accepted — to conduct a special election. It's projected to cost around $25,000, which is an unbudgeted expense.

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During a council meeting Feb. 11, three city council members requested that Egan step down from one of the two leadership positions, but he refused. According to various media reports, Egan has since decided that he's become "a distraction" — despite not having a legal conflict of interest, according to Red Wing City Attorney Jay Squires.

Egan's job with the Sand Council and the reaction it ignited signals the controversy surrounding silica mining industry in southeastern Minnesota. Minnesota legislators are set to begin hearing a bill today that would propose greater study of the mining and its impact, and how to deal with the impact.

The city voted at its previous meeting to seek another legal opinion from the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, while also approving the hiring of an independent firm to look into Egan's situation. Both of those processes will be halted.

Three citizens continued to press the issue at Egan, who was also removed from an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., for a mayoral conference. However, another Red Wing man offered a withering critique of the city council while defending Egan to open the meeting.

Craig Livingstone, who launched an unsuccessful campaign for city council in 2012, minced no words Monday night. One person in the crowd clapped enthusiastically when he was finished.

"You teach kids about bullying in school," he said. "This was the best example of political bullying, locally. The decision was that we were going to destroy him."

Egan was elected during a special election in 2011, after John Howe left his post to become a state senator. Red Wing voters overwhelmingly re-elected Egan in 2012.

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