EDITORIAL: City transition went smoothly

Tuesday night the Ely city council was faced with a unique dilemma. The person elected turned down the mayoral position and the council needed to appoint someone. With one objection, former mayor Chuck Novak was reinstated.
This could have dragged out for some time or become contentious but it didn’t. Even council member Heidi Omerza’s opposition was prefaced by saying there was “value” in having Novak be the mayor. She added that his loss in the November election “gave us clear direction.”
But none of the other five council members agreed with her and Novak was appointed on a 5-1 vote.
Novak will serve at least through April, perhaps into August, or even another two years if he decides to enter - and wins - a special mayoral election authorized earlier in the evening by the council.
One veteran council attendee quipped Novak has had more comebacks than George Foreman. And while he’s not revealing his plans, there may be more than one current council member throwing their hat in the ring for the mayor’s seat.
By not appointing a council member to the interim mayor position, the city avoids having to have an election for the seat left behind. But running for the mayor’s seat in an election doesn’t require giving up a council member’s current seat.
We would predict there will be more than two people filing for the mayor’s seat which would trigger a primary in April and a general election in August. The state of Minnesota clamped down on when elections can be held, with only certain dates availability to local units of government.
Novak called Tuesday night’s actions an orderly transition, something quite different than the goings on in Washington D.C.
We’ll take that up here in Ely, Minnesota where who holds the mayor’s seat is really more ceremonial in a weak-mayor, strong council form of government.
For those interested, mayoral hopefuls have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2 to enter the contest, with a two-day withdrawal period after filings close.
If two or fewer candidates filed, the race will be decided on April 13, if not the top two advance to Aug. 10 with the winner to get the remainder of the two-year term.
For now the council made the right call and we can continue on with life as we know it.
All is well up here in Ely, Minnesota.