Dale-Wozniak removed from City Council after moving to Hudson
Bobbie Dale-Wozniak’s service on the New Richmond City Council has come to an end, but she will hold onto her spot on the New Richmond Library Board for at least a little bit longer.
Dale-Wozniak recently moved to Hudson, but declined to resign her council seat and her seats on various city boards and commissions, which triggered the council to hold a due process hearing to determine her residency status and take action.
“We were informed at the end of June that our lease was being non-renewed, and therefore I have moved to Hudson,” Dale-Wozniak said during the hearing.
When asked by District 2 Alderperson Scottie Ard about whether the admission of moving to Hudson should be construed as a resignation, Dale-Wozniak pressed back.
“No. I did not move voluntarily. I will not resign from the council,” Dale-Wozniak said.
District 4 Alderperson Jane Hansen asked why Dale-Wozniak didn’t simply move to another rental unit in New Richmond rather than leaving the city. Dale-Wozniak said the only housing she could afford in New Richmond was “dirty and it reeked of cigarette smoke.”
After the hearing was closed, District 1 Alderman Craig Kittel made the motion to remove Dale-Wozniak from the council, and Ard seconded. The council voted 4-0 in favor of removal with Dale-Wozniak abstaining. District 6 Alderman Jim Zajkowski was absent.
Mayor Fred Horne then thanked Dale-Wozniak for her service to the council.
“We wish you well,” Horne said. “We had our differences. You stood up for what you believed in. I respect that, and I wish you well.”
Later Monday night at a regular council meeting, Horne said that residents of wards 5 and 6 interested in filling the District 2 seat could attend the body’s September meeting and make a presentation to the council. He indicated that the council would make an appointment to the seat on the spot.
With Dale-Wozniak no longer a member of the council, the remaining alderpersons were left to determine whether she should retain her seat on the Library Board, which has no specific residency requirement.
According to state statute, the library board can have no more than two members who live outside the city, and Dale-Wozniak would be the third. Also complicating matters was a requirement that a three-fourths vote by the council is needed to remove a member. City attorney Ron Siler was unsure whether the requirement meant three-fourths of the total number of seats (six) or three-fourths of the currently filled seats (five). With Zajkowski absent, the council could record no more than a two-thirds vote of the six seats.
After some discussion, Hansen offered the motion to remove Dale-Wozniak from the Library Board, and Ard seconded. The motion failed to reach a three-fourths vote with Kittel dissenting.
“I think we were unclear on whether we had enough bodies here to even vote on it,” Kittel said after the special meeting. “I wanted to make sure we had the right information. I wanted to make sure we had the right number of people to make it a legal vote. So, I kind of wanted to put it off until we found that out. And if I voted no, we’d have to put it off anyway.”
As the meeting was adjourned, an emotional Dale-Wozniak gave Kittel a hug, retrieved her name placard, waved farewell to the other alderpersons and city staff, and quickly exited.
The move saved Dale-Wozniak’s seat on the Library Board temporarily, but Horne said he intended to hold another special meeting on the matter as soon as all five current members of the City Council could be convened so that the Library Board could hold its regularly scheduled meeting at the end of the month without being in violation of state statute.
Kittel, who considers himself a friend of Dale-Wozniak, said he will miss her presence on the council.
“I think she has done so much for the city,” Kittel said. “She’s a brilliant person who gets it. She understands how to do things the right way.”
Dale-Wozniak sent the following statement to The News after the special meeting:
“It has truly been my honor to be a representative for the citizens of the City of New Richmond since 2006. I deeply regret that circumstances beyond my control have resulted in my loss of residency and the councils’ subsequent vote for my removal. I wish only the best to the citizens, the city employees, the volunteers on city committees and the mayor and council. I believe that great things will continue to happen in New Richmond and wish I could be a part of those amazing changes and growth.”
Want to be on council?
New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne said residents of District 2 (wards 5 and 6) interested in filling the vacant council seat can make a presentation to the council at its September meeting. Horne indicated that the council would appoint its new member during the meeting.