“Resign Or Recall” Group Celebrates Vote Removing Two Harbors Mayor

TWO HARBORS, Minn. – What happened in Two Harbors on August 9, 2022 will be remembered in Minnesota’s history.  That’s because it is very likely that this was the first time a mayor was removed from office by a recall vote.

The initial vote count was 1,149 to remove Chris Swanson as Mayor, and 180 to keep him in office.  It won’t be until the votes are canvassed and made official on Friday, August 12, that Swanson would no longer hold that office.

One day after the vote, supporters of the recall are celebrating.

“It started last night about 9:45 when we started to get unofficial results,” says Uriah Hefter, a member of the group Resign or Recall.  “My phone didn’t stop buzzing and ringing until about 2 in the morning.  I got a couple hours of sleep and woke up, and it started again around 7.”

“We’re excited about that, and again it’s been a lot of work; a lot of work,” says Cynthia Kosiak, the attorney for the group Resign or Recall.

This group led the effort to collect signatures this past spring to force Tuesday’s election.  They focused on the actions Swanson took while in office that benefited his business interests, actions the City Attorney calls a violation of city code.

When Swanson said in early June he would not resign, Kosiak says the group’s focus shifted to keeping voters up to date on this issue, and encouraging them to cast a ballot.  “We got out our signs.  We were out in front of the liquor store pretty much all day long with Get Out The Vote signs, and we had an incredible response from people.  Lots of people shouting from their windows, lots of horn honking.”

Kosiak was surprised that Swanson did not do more campaigning to keep his job, and wonder what he may do next.  “We certainly are not confident that it is over at this point, that he won’t try to make some sort of an objection. I don’t think he has any valid objection; I should say that he does not have any valid objection.”

Fox 21 did reach out to Mayor Swanson for a reaction to the recall vote, and have not heard back.

There were also primaries held Tuesday for two seats on the city council.  The Resign or Recall group is working towards electing people who will bring change to this part of city government that could have stopped or spoke out about Mayor Swanson’s conflict of interests.

That includes Hefter, who advanced as one of two candidates that will run in November’s general election for the Ward 1 council seat.  “I sincerely hope that the counselors see the election results, take the results seriously, and know that the citizens of our city are involved, extremely actively in our local government, and they’re going to have to be accountable, something that should have been the case from day one.”

Hefter adds the group wants to keep its social media account running to keep people engaged in the Two Harbors community.  “Not only a site that is focused on city governance, but sharing city information. Our city has not done a great job lately, and we’re happy to fill in those shoes that if that’s what we need to do.

Interim City Administrator Joel Dhein says once Swanson is removed, City Council President Ben Redden will serve as acting mayor until a new person is elected and sworn in.  The plan is to declare the office vacant during their regular meeting on August 22.  That would allow them to set a special election for the office so that it will take place during the November 8 general election.


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