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Superior City Council appoints newcomer to 8th District seat

Mayor breaks tie vote between two nominees.

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Superior City Clerk Camila Ramos, front center, swears in new 8th District Councilor Robert Pierce as fellow council members watch in the Government Center Board Room Dec. 7, 2021 during a city council meeting. Pierce was appointed to serve out the first year of Craig Sutherland's term following Sutherland's resignaton last month. (Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram)

Robert Pierce was sworn in as the new representative for the 8th District during the Superior City Council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 7.

He will hold the seat, which was vacated when Craig Sutherland resigned last month, until a special election is held in the spring.

A pipefitter with Union Local 11 and a former business owner, Pierce said he’s been watching the council proceedings for a few years, and was influenced by his neighbor Matt Osterlund, who ran for the seat in 2019. His biggest motivation, however, came from his children, 11-year-old Ellie and 10-year-old Henry.

“I really want to grow Superior in a direction that will give them the choice to want to raise their families here,” Pierce said.

When asked how they would react to hearing he was appointed to the seat, Pierce said “I think I’m going to be tackled. I think it’ll be lots of hugs and fist bumps and yeah, they’re going to be excited."

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Four candidates stepped forward to take the 8th District Seat — Pierce, retired teacher Edward Gallagher, Air Force veteran Randy Gordon and former city councilor Mike Herrick, who served the city from 2009-2017. Two members of the public also spoke, both in favor of appointing Pierce.

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“I think he gets involved. I think he would be a good choice to represent that district and would help the city grow,” said Butch Liebaert of Superior.
Pierce brings a wide lens to the job, as both a union worker and a former business owner, said Andy Campeau.

“He’s thoughtful, he’s eager to be involved, is willing to work with everybody to continue improving Superior on every level,” Campeau said.

The vote to fill a vacant council seat only requires a majority vote of five.

“Because for this vote, and this vote only, city ordinance reduces our body size to nine,” Mayor Jim Paine told the council. “For any other votes, including votes about this process, it will be six votes to do anything.”

City council members nominated Pierce and Herrick, and the final vote was split evenly between the two. Council members Jack Sweeney, Brent Fennessey, Keith Kern and Warren Bender voted to appoint Herrick; council members Tylor Elm, Lindsey Graskey, Nicholas Ledin and Jenny Van Sickle voted to appoint Pierce. Councilor Ruth Ludwig was absent. Mayor Paine cast the deciding vote, choosing Pierce.

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Superior City Clerk Camila Ramos, front left, swears in new 8th District Councilor Robert Pierce, front right, as, behind left to right Mayor Jim Paine, city attorney Frog Prell and deputy clerk Stephanie Becken look on in the Government Center Board Room Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, during a city council meeting. Pierce was appointed to serve out the first year of Craig Sutherland's term following Sutherland's resignation last month. Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

He was sworn in and took his seat for the meeting.

“I am humbled and honored that I was appointed to this position, and I’m going to do my best for our district and the city,” Pierce said.

His contact information will be posted on the city website, but residents of the district may see him sooner. Pierce has already begun circulating nomination papers for the spring election.

“‘I’ve already filed my declaration,” he said. “I’ve been knocking on doors for the seven days we’ve been allowed, and I already have 53 signatures and counting.”

Pierce will not automatically step into Sutherland's vacated committee appointments, Paine said. The addition of a new councilor allows the current members to shift to some of the vacated committees, if they want. They and Pierce have until Sunday to indicate which committees they're interested in serving on to council President Tylor Elm.

In other business

The council approved finance committee recommendations, which included the wastewater, stormwater and tax increment district budgets for 2022, as well as a $10,000 grant for the Douglas County Historical Society and the 2022 golf course budget with equipment purchases. One new item coming to the golf course is a virtual golf simulator that should open to the public in January, according to finance committee Chairman Jack Sweeney.

Paine introduced his new chief of staff, Rebecca Scherf. Scherf runs the nonprofit Border Town Betties group and is a Superior business owner.

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The council approved a 2% wage increase for nonunion wage plans effective Jan. 1, 2022, and a job description for the assistant fire chief position.

Councilor Warren Bender brought up constituent concerns over the sidewalk plowing not covering both sides of the street along the route children take to get to Northern Lights Elementary School. Paine said the route is set for the winter to learn the system. However, he did ask residents to offer feedback into future changes.

"Let your constituents know this route is this route for the winter, but we will be reviewing it, and I would be shocked if it stayed the same next winter. We just need time to learn from it," Paine said.

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