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Strodtman to take council seat vacated by Godfrey

Mike Strodtman <I>Appointed to fill the remainder of Ted Godfrey's term.</I>

Former city planner Mike Strodtman has been appointed to the Park Rapids City Council. He will fill the remainder of a term vacated by Ted Godfrey, who resigned last month.

The City Council received six letters of interest for the term that will expire in 2010.

The pool of candidates included business people, a former council member and a former city employee.

"There's quite a range of people," Mayor Nancy Carroll said.

Those who submitted letters were: Jennie Anderson, Gene Kinkel, Tim Sycks, Paul Utke, Thomas Wagner and Strodtman. It was determined that Wagner did not live in the city limits, however. Kinkel lost his longtime seat on the council in last fall's election.

According to the League of Minnesota Cities, the council can appoint any individual who is eligible for election. The person must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the city and at least 21 years old. The council is not obligated to appoint any candidate previously defeated in an election for office.

Strodtman was the city planner for about four years before leaving the area in 2008. He moved to the Twin Cities with his wife but they decided it wasn't home, he said.

He holds a master's degree in urban and region studies with a certificate in city planning.

"I feel my previous experience working for regional development commissions, a county and two cities provides me with a good understanding of local government," he wrote in his letter to the council.

He said he was interested in being a city council member because "the decisions that are made today are what shape our community for the future. In times like these, with LGA cuts, there need to be creative ways of thinking for communities to survive until the economy rebounds."

Councilwoman Sue Tomte said she was excited to see everyone who stepped up.

"We're facing all kinds of challenges and making decisions about what to cut, what not to cut, and what to do," Tomte said.

"It's a tough time to be jumping in," added Carroll.

Councilman Dave W. Konshok said he encouraged Strodtman to step up and submit a letter.

"He's a young gentleman but I was very impressed by watching how he handles himself and I think (he) is probably one of the best planners in the state of Minnesota," he said.

His experience will be helpful in the next few years after the economy turns around, Konshok said.

Councilman Pat Mikesh said he agrees that Strodtman would be a good choice but wondered if the council should choose the next highest vote from the election, which was Kinkel. Mikesh was appointed in a similar way after Konshok resigned to pursue the city administrator position, later filled by Bill Smith.

"Gene hasn't been out that long, he knows everything that's still going on in this city," Mikesh said.

Carroll said for as long as she had been on the council, that was the only time someone was appointed. It is an option but not required, she said.

Tomte and Carroll both remembered Strodtman from the Blandin Community Leadership program and were impressed, they said.

The council voted unanimously to appoint Strodtman to the position.