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.