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Hanna chosen for BE council spot

Three persons had applied to fill seat vacated by Dan Warner

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Sep 12, 2021

Ann Hanna, right side of photo, is sworn in by city attorney David Frundt as a city council person.

Tuesday, Sept. 7 saw previous Blue Earth City Council member Dan Warner’s seat finally filled at the council’s regularly-scheduled meeting.

The council held interviews for Warner’s position during a work session which commenced at 4 p.m.

Three candidates applied for the position. Elizabeth Minor, who sought to bring a younger perspective to the council; Dan Ristau, who is active in the Blue Earth Fire Department and in the Blue Earth Area School District; and Ann Hanna, a current member of the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board.

After conducting a round-robin interview session during which the candidates alternately answered nine interview questions, the council unanimously appointed Hanna as Blue Earth City Council’s newest member. She was sworn in immediately after her appointment.

Hanna currently serves on the Blue Earth EDA Board and has also spent a great deal of time working in the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office. She displayed deep knowledge of Blue Earth and its governance during the interview.

Hanna is a long-time resident of the Faribault County area. “I was born in Winnebago,” she shared with the council. “I grew up in Pilot Grove Township, and then lived in and out of Blue Earth many times.”

Hanna added, “I always navigate back to Blue Earth because I consider this my home.”

After a long history of involvement with the city, Hanna felt now was the right time to pursue a position on the Blue Earth City Council.

“I’m recently retired, which is probably the reason I signed up for this,” Hanna said. “I felt given the time I wanted to dedicate to this position, it would be best if I could do it and have it be my only job.”

Hanna continued, “I’ve been on the EDA since 2016, and it’s a very rewarding position. I felt I wanted the next step.”

Hanna concluded, “I would have big shoes to fill, but I would be very happy with the opportunity.”

During the interview, the council asked each candidate to specify the strengths they would bring to the City Council position.

Hanna responded, “I feel one of my largest strengths is my base.”

She elaborated, “I’ve been in county government and city government since 1997, with the EDA as a really firm foundation of the goings-on of our city.”

She continued, “I do attend a lot of City Council meetings, so I try to see how the EDA intertwines with the City Council.”

“I think my strength is my knowledge,” Hanna explained.

Hanna insisted she is not joining the council with a particular agenda in mind. “I don’t have an agenda. I just want to keep Blue Earth moving in the right direction.”

Hanna cited Blue Earth’s potential for growth as an area of interest for her.

“I want to promote Blue Earth as we do with the advertising that we put in different outlets,” she explained. “We need to get out there. We’re in a beautiful situation with Highway 169 and I-90, and I want that to really expand and grow Blue Earth.”

Though Hanna was selected to fill the current opening on the council, the council members urged the other candidates to consider running in the future.

“We thank the three of you for coming forth for this,” said council member Russ Erichsrud. “Two of you will be disappointed, but there will be more seats next vote, so don’t give up.”

Other business discussed by the council on Tuesday night included:

• The impending launch of the MyBlueEarth app, which the city is piloting as a quick and easy way to connect citizens to city government officials. The app was launched on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and city administrator Mary Kennedy encouraged each of the council members to familiarize themselves with it as soon as possible.

• Hiring a consultant to conduct a compensation and classification study of all employees of the city. The study is necessary due to a notice of non-compliance given to Blue Earth by the Minnesota state government. Blue Earth was cited for failing a statistical analysis test regarding the pay equity between female and male employees of the city.

Blue Earth has been directed to conduct a study to determine the source of the inequity and adjust accordingly. A proposal summarizing findings from the study is due to the state by Nov. 12 of this year if the city wants to avoid a penalty of a 5 percent reduction in local government aid, or $100 per day, whichever is greater.

• A second reading of ordinance 21-12, which concerns the operation of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) within the limits of the city of Blue Earth.

The revised ordinance clarifies the timeframe during which ATVs can be operated within the city. It also clarifies the streets upon which ATVs can and cannot be operated.

After some discussion, the council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance.