Residents of Washington County District 2 will have one more candidate to vote for this fall - that of a county commissioner, to fill the seat vacated when Ted Bearth passed away March 10.

Bearth was two months into the second year of his four-year term when he died. With more than a year left to his term, Washington County Administrator Molly O’Rourke said, state election laws require the county to hold a special election to replace the District 2 commissioner.

In order to do so, the Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution establishing a special election to fill the vacancy. The resolution was approved March 22.

“Because of the fact this opening occurred so early in the four-year term, an appointment is not an option, so at this point we would be recommending that you adopt this resolution which would set up a special election that would be concurrent with this fall’s general primary and general November election,” O’Rourke said.

The special election will follow the same schedule as the election schedule for the Minnesota primary and general elections. A primary election will be held Aug. 9 if more than two people file for candidacy. If only one or two candidates emerge, a primary is not necessary. In that case, the one or two candidates would be placed on a Nov. 8 ballot for the special election.

Candidates can file for the District 2 seat from May 7-31.

The addition of a special election means that four seats on the Washington County Board of Commissioners are open for election this fall. Terms held by District 1 Commissioner Fran Miron, District 3 Commissioner Gary Kriesel and District 5 Commissioner Lisa Weik all expire in December.

The District 2 seat will be for two years; Bearth’s term was set to expire in December 2018. Because the term is still active, the candidate elected to the District 2 seat would be sworn in after the November election, most likely just before Thanksgiving, O’Rourke said.

Located in the central section of the county, District 2 includes the communities of Birchwood, Pine Springs, Willernie, Landfall and Oakdale, as well as the portion of White Bear Lake that is within Washington County, Precinct 2 of Mahtomedi, and Woodbury precincts 1, 2 and 7.

New board leaders

Bearth was elected to the position of chairman for the Washington County Board of Commissioners at the beginning of the year. Miron, from District 1, was elected vice chairman at the same time. Miron had filled in as acting chairman during Bearth’s illness, but will now fill out the remainder of the year as county board chairman.

In order to do so, Miron first had to tender his resignation as vice chairman, which also happened during the March 22 county board meeting. He was elected board chairman, and District 5’s Weik was elected as vice chairwoman for the rest of 2016.

Earlier this year, Bearth had been appointed to represent Washington County on 14 different committees. Those assignments will be split up between the four commissioners, O’Rourke said, until a new District 2 commissioner is elected. She expects to bring recommendations about committee assignments to the April 5 meeting.

The four commissioners will split the visits, take part in neighborhood meetings and communicate with residents in District 2, as well, until a new commissioner is elected for that section of the county.

“In the interim, there’s a lot of communities that have to be represented,” Miron said. “I know that each of the commissioners have indicated a willingness to step up and fulfill some of the other duties that commissioner Bearth had assumed. We’re pleased to do that.”