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Questions surrounding two W’bago filings

By Staff | Sep 15, 2008

The slate of candidates for Winnebago City Council is set and one person who has filed may be facing an even bigger decision.

And, another candidate filed for a wrong seat because of a misunderstanding.

Scott Robertson is running for one of two four-year positions on Nov. 4.

However, there’s one slight problem: he’s not a resident of Winnebago.

At least, not at the present time.

“You have to be a resident in the city 30 days before election day,” says Faribault County Auditor John Thompson.

City elections will be held during the November general elections.

Robertson says he’s hired an attorney to make sure everything is done legally.

“I will either be living in Winnebago or have my property annexed in the proper time. I know what I have to do and when it has to be done by,” Robertson says.

City Administrator Jennifer Feely says Robertson filed his affidavit of candidacy late Monday afternoon.

“We trust what they tell us is the truth. If they are lying, it is perjury,” Feely says when asked if she knew whether Robertson was a resident of the city.

Robertson’s home is located in Verona Township and that could become an issue.Thompson says it’s not enough for a person just to own land within a city. He says Robertson’s “primary residence” could be an apartment.

“If he says the apartment is where he lives, then it’s OK. You have to take their word, but someone could challenge it,” says Thompson.

If there’s a legal dispute, adds Thompson, the city attorney might have to issue an opinion to resolve the matter.

If Robertson wants to annex his property before the election is held, it could still be done.

A Municipal Boundary Adjustments official in St. Paul says it is possible Robertson’s property could be annexed within 30 days of the election.

That would require an orderly annexation agreement between Winnebago and Verona Township officials, and passage of a joint resolution.

Time could become a factor. The boundary adjustments board meets Sept. 25 to review annexation requests. Robertson would need to have an agreement and resolution approved rather soon for it to be considered this month.

Meanwhile, Bret Osborn has been certified to appear on the ballot running for a four-year position. But, he says his intentions were to run for the two-year seat.

“I verbally specified that I was running for the two-year term,” says Osborn.

But, on the “affidavit of candidacy” Osborn wrote he was seeking election to the City Council and did not indicate it was for the two-year post.

City Attorney Douglas Johanson became aware of the snafu late Wednesday and issued a legal opinion on Thursday.

“If Mr. Osborn desires to have any change made in his candidacy for Winnebago City Council, he must petition the Faribault County District Court to correct any alleged error,” wrote Johanson.

Thompson says information of the Winnebago council elections has already been added into a statewide system.

He says Osborn will have to act quickly if he wants any change made.

“Once I proof the ballot, it’s ready to go. I can’t wait. Right now he’s going to be on the ballot as a candidate for a four-year term,” Thompson says. “It’s going to take a judge order to change it. I’ll do whatever the judge says.”

In other filings for the council, Mayor Randy Nowak is seeking re-election for a two-year term. He is running unopposed.

Incumbents Maryann McClain and Paul Loomis have decided not to run again.

McClain’s seat on the council is for four years, while Loomis’ post would be two years.

Incumbent Rick Johnson, Michelle Weringa, John Schavey and Chris Ziegler also have filed for the four-year positions.

Former councilman Bob Weerts wants back on the council. He will not be challenged for Loomis’ two-year seat.

In Delavan, incumbent Mayor Tom Hoffman will not run for another two-year term. Instead, current councilman Ken Walker, who is up for re-election, will seek the mayoral spot instead. He is running unopposed.

Kathy Johnson has entered the race for one of two council seats carrying four-year terms. Incumbent Butch Otteson is not seeking re-election.