Veteran councilman steps down at month’s end due to new out-of-state job.
OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The Oak Park Heights City Council accepted Councilman Les Abrahamson’s resignation Tuesday night and swiftly named a former city Planning Commissioner to fill the vacancy.
The council accepted Abrahamson’s resignation effective 11:59 p.m. April 30. Abrahamson, who has been on the council for 10 years, is stepping down to accept a job in Dallas. He starts there next month, he said in his resignation letter.
Mike Liljegren, who was a Planning commissioner eight years and finished behind Councilmen Mike Runk and Chuck Dougherty in the November election, was unanimously appointed Abrahamson’s replacement after the council declared a vacancy due to Abrahamson’s resignation. Liljegren will serve out Abrahamson’s term through Dec. 31, 2014.
Abrahamson recommended the council appoint Liljegren in his resignation letter.
“Mike was the next highest vote recipient in the most recent council election and he has a long history of service to the city on the Planning Commission,” Abrahamson writes. “I know he would be an excellent council member and ready to step right in.
Neither Abrahamson nor Liljegren were at Tuesday’s meeting. Abrahamson was ill and Liljegren was out of town, according to City Administrator Eric Johnson.
“We’ll chat with him and make sure he’s comfortable with it,” Johnson said about Liljegren and his appointment.
“I personally would like to thank him for his work. He will be missed,” said Mayor Mary McComber of Abrahamson.
In his resignation letter, Abrahamson said it has “been an honor to serve the citizens and businesses of Oak Park Heights over the last 10 years,” and praised city staff.
“I’ll miss working with all of them,” Abrahamson writes. “The St. Croix Valley will always be ‘home’ for me, and I’ll miss it terribly. It’s time, however, for me and my family to start a new adventure — one with warm winters.”
Johnson said in a memo to the council among the “proactive” steps before the panel were accepting Abrahamson’s resignation, declaring a vacancy by resolution and filling the vacancy “as soon as possible.”
Johnson said no state law requires the council to advertise for candidates or outlines an appointment process other than a person be “qualified.” He added that a qualified candidate must be a U.S. citizen, Oak Park Heights resident, qualified city voter and at least 21 years old.
“If the City Council does not desire to hold a special election, the council and mayor may appoint a ‘qualified’ person to fill the vacated seat without the need for a special election as there is less than two years remaining in (Abrahamson’s) unexpired term,” Johnson writes.
He adds that besides replacing Abrahamson on the council, council members must also name a replacement liaison to the Middle St. Croix Watershed District and the city’s Economic Development Authority. Abrahamson is council liaison to the Middle St. Croix WD and EDA president.