Baxter faces uncertainty after Holman opts to leave after current term
Todd Holman will leave the city after more than twenty years of service to the community in a variety of capacities.
When the second filing period for public office ended Aug. 11, there was a notable name absent from the list of declared candidates.
That name is Todd Holman, the vice-mayor and 13 year mainstay of the Baxter City Council, who declined to add his name to the list of potential candidates up for election on Nov. 3. Holman’s departure is notable in other ways as well. Two seats on the council are up for election this year, but only one candidate is declared, which leaves the city in “uncharted water” when it comes to filling that fifth empty seat, as Mayor Darrel Olson said during a phone interview Thursday, Aug. 13.
“I tried to convince him to run,” Olson said. “I noticed that it was a tough decision for him because he's really reliable. He throws his heart and soul into everything. Does his homework, his research, so on and so forth, and so he will definitely be missed.”
Olson and City Administrator Brad Chapulis expressed reluctance to give a statement on what the city will do to fill Holman’s chair. Currently, city staffers are in conversations with city attorney J. Brad Person, Crow Wing County, as well as representatives from the League of Greater Minnesota Cities, among others. At this time, Olson and Chapulis said, the likeliest outcome is the top two vote-getters will be seated, which would entail at least one write-in candidate, but that isn’t a definitive prediction.
Chapulis emphasized the city is looking into what protocols would apply in the event the election doesn’t pan out that way — for example, he noted, if the winning write-in candidate didn’t accept the nomination and declined to take the seat.
“This is uncharted water. This has never happened before, at least during all my years with the city. Usually, we’d even have up to three people applying for a single seat,” Olson said. “I honestly don’t know what the road will be.”
As for Holman himself, he said he plans to serve out his term until the end of the year. His decision to step down is grounded in personal considerations, as he and his wife plan to move outside Baxter city limits for family-related opportunities.
“I certainly have enjoyed the honor and privilege of serving all these 13 years now on the city council, the great opportunity to serve with some great staff and counsel, and certainly the commission’s citizens,” Holman said during a phone interview Wednesday, Aug. 12. “When you see what kind of progress the city has made … all these projects have been coming together. These have all been projects that have been in the works, some for 20 years, and so it's tremendously gratifying to be here, to be a part of that.”
Holman’s hand in Baxter’s development has come from a variety of angles — notably, as a long-standing member of the council, but also as a former employee with the Crow Wing County planning and zoning department, as well as a stint as Baxter’s first community development director. He first arrived in Baxter in 1999 at the onset of an explosive period of growth for the city, Olson noted, when the city was investing $30 to $40 million a year in infrastructure projects. With his elevation to the council in 2007, Holman — who often prefaced his opinions and questions with a characteristic disclaimer he was, in fact, “only a voice of one” — has been a prominent presence in city government through some of the highest highs, as well as the lowest lows in modern Baxter history.
Olson — who’s worked closely in conjunction with Holman during his time with the county, his years as a community development director, and his terms on the council — expressed sadness at his departure, but noted the city will now look to fill Holman’s appointments and find somebody who can fulfill that vital role, however difficult the process may be.
GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch .