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Bend appointed Afton mayor

Afton has a new mayor.

Afton City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Richard Bend, a member of Afton Planning Commission, to serve as mayor during its Dec. 19 meeting.

“I think he’s been in the trenches with the Planning Commission,” said Council Member Joe Richter, who served as acting mayor. “I think he would be able to hit the ground running.

“Plus, he’s recently retired so I think he will have the time.”

Bend will serve out the remaining year of outgoing Mayor Pat Snyder’s term. Snyder’s resignation was finalized on Dec. 12.

“I am a great admirer of Dick Bend and can’t think of a better person to take over as mayor,” Snyder said in an e-mail.

Bend, a retired attorney, is currently serving his third term on Planning Commission.

He didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Nominating candidates

During Thursday’s meeting, each City Council member brought several names to the table for discussion.

Richter and Council Member Peg Nolz nominated Bend.

Nolz and Richter said they felt Bend would be a good choice because he is well versed in the city’s comprehensive plan and has a good understanding of the city’s ordinances.

“He’s familiar with the ordinances and where the city is trying to get to or stay,” Nolz said. “Plus, he’s an attorney so he knows how to stay out of trouble.”

Council Members Randy Nelson and Bill Palmquist nominated public works director Ken Johnson.

Given that Johnson is a city employee, he is not able to serve as mayor and still retain his public works director status, so his name was quickly eliminated.

Additionally, Palmquist suggested that Julia Welter, who served as Afton’s mayor prior to Snyder, would be a good candidate.

“I thought she would be a nice compromise,” he said.

A motion to appoint Welter failed 2-2.

During the discussion, Palmquist and Nelson expressed some reservations over Bend’s appointment because they wanted to talk with him first to see what his intentions are in the long term.

“Before I vote for someone to be the mayor, I’d like to talk to them,” Palmquist said.

Both Palmquist and Nelson have said they wanted to appoint someone who had no intention to run for mayor in the future.

Nelson also said he had concerns over Nolz and Richter wanting a candidate who shared their views.

“You want somebody that’s in lock step with you and Peg,” he said. “You want someone to vote with you.”

Palmquist and Nelson eventually agreed with Bend’s appointment.

A special meeting will be scheduled to swear Bend in as mayor in addition to appointing a new person to fill out Bend’s remaining two years on Planning Commission.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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