Superior City Council Fails to Elect President Again; Mayor Paine Frustrated

Vice President Craig Sutherland serving as acting president until president is selected

SUPERIOR, Wis. – Superior Mayor Jim Paine is growing increasingly frustrated after a second city council meeting that failed to vote in a new council president.

“Basically the council failed to elect a president because Councilor Sutherland refused to do his job and vote in the election. We count on all the councilors to make a decision on who their leader should be,” said Mayor Paine after the May 7th city council meeting.

For the second time, a councilor abstained to vote for a new Superior City Council President, preventing a tie breaking vote by Mayor Paine.

In both votes for council president on May 7th, Councilor Ruth Ludwig had five votes, and Councilor Brent Fennessy had four.

After Councilor Dan Olson abstained from casting the tying vote at the last meeting, Councilor Craig Sutherland abstained on May 7th because he believes if Mayor Paine casts a tie-breaking vote it will divide the council.

“I think this is embarrassing certainly. I think this council deserved a leader,” said Mayor Paine.

Even though Councilor Ruth Ludwig has not been officially elected to the president position, Mayor Paine tells us he still plans to treat Ludwig as the council president and Craig Sutherland as the Vice President.

For now, Vice President Sutherland is serving as acting president.

He gave his committee assignment recommendations to the council and they were passed unanimously.

Sutherland told me he thinks this is something the council needs to figure out among themselves and that it’s his right to abstain from voting if he wants.

“I’m not here to make everybody happy. At the same time that’s impossible. Therefore, if he’s mad at me, that’s the situation it’s going to be but we’ll get past this, we’ll move on. It’s not a pressing issue right now at this very second and hopefully by next meeting we do have a decision,” said Sutherland.

Keith Kern has served as the acting council president in the past.

He says it’s an important job to have regular interactions between the council and city leaders including the mayor.

Kern agrees with Sutherland that the council should figure out the president on their own without input or a tie breaking vote cast by Mayor Paine.

Kern tells us the council is still functioning well outside the presidential decision.

“Just because this little hiccup has happened doesn’t mean that all business has stopped or nobody’s getting along,” said Kern. “We’re still doing the great work and we’re going to continue to do the great work for the next year regardless of who the president is.”

Mayor Paine says it’s his statutory right to cast tie breaking votes.

He says the city will be fine moving forward and that he is ultimately the city’s leader.

As long as the council president is not decided upon, it will be an agenda item at all subsequent council meetings.

The council did pass some measures on May 7th.

Webster Park will officially be renamed to Webster Dream Park.

The Superior Soothing Massage license was revoked after being busted for allegations of sex trafficking.

The council passed a resolution for tax reciprocity between Duluth and Superior. That still needs to be approved by the state.

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