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Ward 2 Mitchell council seats up for grabs in 2017

Two familiar faces will be leaving the Mitchell City Council this summer, and a younger candidate is hoping to bring a fresh perspective to the board.

Mitchell City Councilwoman Bev Robinson, center, speaks at a Mitchell Area Networking Association meeting in 2015. (Daily Republic file photo)
Mitchell City Councilwoman Bev Robinson, center, speaks at a Mitchell Area Networking Association meeting in 2015. (Daily Republic file photo)

Two familiar faces will be leaving the Mitchell City Council this summer, and a younger candidate is hoping to bring a fresh perspective to the board.

Councilwoman Bev Robinson and Councilman Dave Tronnes, who represent Ward 2 in southeastern Mitchell, told The Daily Republic they do not plan to run for the council seat this year. And as Robinson and Tronnes leave the board, Davison County GOP Chair Darron Werkmeister is hoping to fill one seat on the eight-person council.

"I am running for City Council because I am passionate about serving, and what better way to serve the community that I love and where I am proud to call my home?" Werkmeister said in a statement to The Daily Republic on Thursday.

The city of Mitchell issued a "Notice of Vacancy" on Thursday morning due to the expiration of terms for five City Council seats. Two of those seats are located in Ward 2, with a three-year and one-year term up for grabs. And according to the Mitchell finance office, candidates will have to declare which term they run for prior to the circulation of petitions.

Werkmeister, a 30-year-old financial analyst who moved to Mitchell with his wife and children in 2012, said he intends to run for the three-year spot.

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"To be as effective as I can and make the most impact, I plan to seek the three-year term, with a one-year term I would only be getting my feet wet, and that is not where my heart is," Werkmeister said.

Werkmeister hopes to fill Tronnes' seat approximately three years after the councilman was appointed by former Mayor Ken Tracy.

Tronnes, who served on the council during the heated 2015 mayoral election, the Corn Palace renovation and the indoor aquatic facility referendum, said he's ready to pass the torch to someone new.

"I honestly think there needs to be more people involved in City Council and learn like I did," Tronnes said. "I mean, I learned so much about city government in the last three years, so it's just time."

Tronnes said he's enjoyed the experience and the people of Mitchell, but he suggested adding some youth to the council could prove beneficial.

"I hate to say this, but I'll be 67 when I get off (the council), I hope there's some younger people that come on board, because it's going to be their city a lot longer than my city, and they need to start having some input into it.," Tronnes said.

The other outgoing Ward 2 council member is Robinson.

Like Tronnes, Robinson intends to move on from the council this summer.

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"I do not intend to run for another term as City Council Ward 2 representative," Robinson said in an email to The Daily Republic. "I was recently promoted in my employment which requires more responsibility and travel."

Robinson was selected in December 2015 by her former colleague on the City Council, Mayor Jerry Toomey, to replace outgoing Councilman Randy Doescher. Toomey cited her experience on the board when selected Robinson over three other candidates for the vacant seat: Jodie Cain-Lambert, Tara Volesky and Werkmeister.

Volesky has also mentioned intentions to run for one of the two available Ward 2 council seats in 2017, but she could not be reached for comment.

Robinson's seat would not otherwise had been up for re-election this year, but she was selected to serve out Doescher's term until the next municipal election. Whoever replaces Robinson this summer will serve the position for one-year, at which point the position will return to its typical three-year election cycle.

Robinson, who had previously served on the council from 1999 to 2006, quickly settled into the role and was immediately picked to serve as the council's representative on the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee as it contemplated a lake restoration study.

Robinson was thrust into discussions to consider a $73,725 Lake Mitchell restoration study, which she ultimately supported once it reached the council's table. Another notable vote from Robinson was her opposition to Toomey's proposed streetside parking ban for campers, trailers and other large vehicles and implements.

During Robinson's initial years on the council, she served as the city successfully recruited Cabela's. Other major city accomplishments during her initial tenure included completion of the B-Y Pipeline that brings drinking water from the Missouri River to Mitchell, various infrastructure projects and the construction of the city's outdoor aquatic center, according to The Daily Republic archive.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Susan Tjarks, Ward 3 Councilman Dan Allen and Ward 1 Councilman Steve Rice will also see their terms expire and each has the opportunity to run for re-election. The election will be held on June 6, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Nominating petitions for the council seats can be circulated as early as March 1, and the deadline for filing is 5 p.m. on March 28. According to the city finance office, no more than 50 signatures from registered voters in each ward are required.

And as the election approaches, Werkmeister is already making his pitch to improve the community over the next three years.

"There are so many great things about our community and I'm proud of what we have and the progress we have made over the years," Werkmeister said. "I believe I can serve in a leadership capacity that is professional, serves Mitchell best, and realizing that we don't always have to be moving forward, but always be leaning forward."

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