Superior Residents to Vote on Changing City Government

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: January 07, 2020 10:37 PM

The Superior City Council has voted for the resolution introduced by councilor Dan Olson about providing for an advisory referendum on the question about establishing the position of city administrator.

Council members passed the resolution 6-4. A motion to change the date of the advisory referendum from April 7 to Nov. 3 passed as well.

The resolution presented at the council meeting will place a question on the ballot for voters asking whether they would like a part time mayor and a full time administrator to lead the city of Superior rather than a full time mayor.

The advisory referendum would not be binding. People will not be making a decision, they will only be advising.

This all stems from a $44,000 consultant report by RW Management Group.

"Overall we haven't done anything to the community or any changes to it in decades. So it was just something that was recommended so I decided by bringing a resolution forward that we could look into the possibility," said Olson.

Mayor Paine said it was a recommendation that they did not ask them to research.

"We asked them to do a one time review of our operations and our staffing positions. We wanted them to look at if we should be eliminating or adding any staff positions and if so, in what departments. It was really a staffing study, it was not meant to look at our governance," said Paine.

Olson said although it got a little intense in the meeting, this is how government works. He said overall, it was a good discussion.

"I brought the resolution forward, because I thought that we should do something with the recommendation and the amount of money that we already spent on taxpayer dollars. When it comes to actually supporting or not supporting it, I'm going to be completely down in the middle and just look for the best possible things that we need to do for our city," said Olson.

A majority of community members spoke on their disagreement to this referendum, saying a city administrator isn’t necessary and that they've liked what the mayor has done for the city.

"A part time mayor will result in the city showing it is okay with unfair wages and more money spent on bureaucracy and less representation of the people," said Amanda Foster, a Superior resident.

Some members of the carpenters union Local 361 showed their support for the mayor with signs that said “Stand with Workers, Vote No.”

Jeremy Brownen, a spokesperson for the union, said the mayor supports local workers and has created opportunities for them.

“He helps us, so we want to help him," said Brownen.

Hibbing Mayor Rick Cannata spoke about how having a city administrator is a good thing. He is a part time mayor for the city.

"As mayor we are the face of city but so is the council. When it comes down to business day in and day out with city administrator, he's there to oversee everything," said Cannata.

Paine claims this isn't what the people want. He said the people choose who is in charge of local government.

"To serve the people of Superior is a full time job, and the people of Superior deserve to choose who that person is. They deserve full time leadership," said Paine.

After residents vote -- it goes back to the city council. It's expected to be a lengthy process.


Alejandra Palacios

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