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City Council Eliminates Primary Election For Charlie Crichton's Vacant Seat

The move is expected to save the City of Burnsville $35,000 and fill the vacant seat 45 days sooner

Burnsville's city council voted Tuesday night to eliminate the primary election in its quest to replace recently deceased councilman Charlie Crichton.

The unprecedented move is projected to save the City of Burnsville around $35,000 and help fill the vacant seat up to 45 days earlier than originally planned.

Given the unexpected circumstances surrounding the vacant seat, the council wanted to find a replacement for Crichton as quickly as possible and, as such, it decided to move ahead with the special general election on July 26.

"I feel strongly that democracy would be best served by the people voting for who they want to speak for them rather than this council appointing someone," councilman Dan Kealey said. "I’m much more comfortable pulling the primary in a special election situation."

"Normally the primary election has a very low voter turnout and in this case we would be asking people to come out twice in the middle of the summer," councilman Dan Gustafson agreed. 

While the Council was largely in favor of eliminating the primary election, Burnsville mayor Elizabeth Kautz took a moment to consider the appropriateness of the step.

"I understand that we would save money and time in the process by eliminating the primary but people come out when they want their voices heard. With a primary and a general election they get two chances to have their voices heard," Kautz protested. "A primary will always be a low turnout. But I think we will miss the opportunity to hear the public voices." 

In the end, the opportunity to save the City of Burnsville a large sum of money and restore the city council to five members was too tempting to ignore.  

"The residents of Burnsville will figure out who they want," councilman Gustafson said with confidence.

Emma Hathaway April 20, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Yes, I am planning on voting. Charlie had a very strong voice of reason and I would like to make sure that there will be another strong voice in his place.
sjm9337 April 20, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Yes, I too plan on voting. I am concerned, however, that if a large field of candidates files for the election, the vote will be split among the candidates. And if there is a small turnout, the winner will likely be elected by a very small plurality, not a majority of all votes. At least a primary would have narrowed the choices. This is an important seat. I hope that good candidates come forward to help lead our community forward.
Shane Wyatt McCartney April 20, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Will ALL polling places be opened or will a selection be made of the most past "active" turnout locations? Last election a few places had been relocated due to a reason and it did create some concerns for those who wanted to participate. In any case of those concerned I would suggest submitting a request for an absentee ballet from the Secretary of MN http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=211 June 24, 2011 is when absentee voting begins for Burnsville special election. This may help with the concern of a low voter turnout and the removal of primary procedures.
Jeff Roberts April 20, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Great questions everyone. The city council did mention the problem of a large field of candidates. They were in agreement that it did not seem likely in this case. I am not sure if they were right, but that is what they said at the meeting. I think we should encourage everyone in the community to cast a vote. You residents are right, Charlie was a beloved and respected councilman who stood up for what he thought was best for Burnsville. It is only fitting that a similar candidate replace him.
Shane Wyatt McCartney May 04, 2011 at 05:57 PM
There was a special session April 26th, 2011 ordered by the Mayor, considering the designation of polling places for the 2011 special election. Council member without Sherry (absent) voted to notify the voters in Precinct 13 of the changes in polling location for this election. http://service.govdelivery.com/docs/MNBURNSV/MNBURNSV_3/MNBURNSV_3_20110426_en.pdf

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