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Thomson Township appoints Sunnarborg to vacant slot

The township board started its search to fill the vacant seat over after receiving a letter from Minnesota Department of Administration.

FILE:ThomsonTownHall
The Thomson Township Hall Izabel Johnson / 2021 File / Pine Journal

ESKO — The Thomson Township Board of Supervisors appointed Dave Sunnarborg to its vacant position on the board during its meeting Thursday, Jan. 5.

David Sunnarborg
David Sunnarborg was appointed to the vacant position on the Thomson Township Board of Supervisors on Monday, Jan 9.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Township Clerk Rhonda Peleski confirmed that the three people who applied for the position during this second round were the three that had been previously interviewed by the board: Sunnarborg, Eric Rish and Gary Bonneville.

Peleski added that all six of the previous candidates were emailed a questionnaire, with only the three mentioned candidates asking to be included again.

Votes for the candidates included three for Sunnarborg and one each for both Rish and Bonneville.

The board appointed Sunnarborg on Dec. 1, however the Minnesota Department of Administration found the board had violated an open meetings law, which resulted in the board restarting the process.

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The letter from the state referenced the meeting in which the board went into closed session to discuss the applicants on Sept. 8, and said the meeting should not have been closed based on state statute.

The opinion stated the candidates were not under the authority of the board, meaning a closed meeting was not permitted.

During a special meeting to discuss the opinion on Dec. 8, township attorney David Pritchett said his interpretation of the statute was different, as candidates who apply for a position are under board authority.

However, while township officials disagreed with the opinion, Pritchett advised them to move forward to fix the issue.

This resulted in Sunnarborg resigning from his appointment and the township restarting the application process.

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Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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