Cloquet High School teacher Chris Swanson was appointed to fill the vacant Cloquet City Council Ward 3 seat Tuesday, July 16.
After interviewing four candidates, Swanson was unanimously selected to fill the seat recently vacated by Dakota Koski.
Koski was elected in November, but had to resign after purchasing a home outside Ward 3 in May.
During his interview, Swanson, a government teacher, said he regularly encourages his students to get involved, so he decided to offer his service to the community as well.
“I grew up in town,” Swanson said. “I love this place. I work as a teacher at the high school. I promote it and do my best to encourage my students to run for public office. I’m grateful for the opportunity to step up and serve and I think it’s a high calling.”
Swanson was interviewed by phone during the meeting because he was with his family in Florida.
He said among the most pressing needs facing Cloquet are taxes, clarity with the community and partnerships with other businesses, organizations and government entities in Carlton County.
“I think that taxes are always a concern for citizens,” Swanson said. “So taking a hard look at where we’re spending money and be as efficient and appropriate with those finances as possible and being clear with the public. Clarity matters; there have certainly been plenty of hiccups in the last few years about process and future ... and I would say that reaching out and trying to partner with local businesses, the Economic Development Authority, the Chamber and so on.
"We have a lot of fantastic people in the community, a lot of people that can be partnered with," Swanson said.
All councilors Tuesday said that all of the applicants, which also included Uriah Wilkinson, Cory Martinson and Ray Schow, were strong candidates, but Swanson stood out. Ward 5 Councilor Steve Langley was absent Tuesday.
Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge said Swanson made an impression on him when he said he intended to be on the ballot in the special election for the Ward 3 seat in November.
Ward 2 Councilor Sheila Lamb concurred.
“Chris was in my top two as well,” Lamb said. “I was impressed with his answers and his understanding of the community and just his overall approach.”
Council nixes primaries for special elections
Councilors also voted to not require primaries for special elections in the future.
Currently, if more than two candidates file to run for a seat in any election, a primary must be held prior to the general election.
The council voted to not require a primary to shorten the amount of time a seat goes without a person elected to the seat.
The change will not, however, affect the upcoming special election for the Ward 3 seat. If only two candidates file to run, the general election will be Nov. 5. If more than two candidates file, a primary election will be Nov. 5 and a general election will be Feb. 10.