The debate over filling the Goodhue County Board District 1 seat followed the board from Red Wing to its annual meeting at the Goodhue County Fair. Though the location of the debate changed, the outcome did not.
On June 26, the Prairie Island Tribal Council sent a letter to county administrator Scott Arneson. The letter requested an explanation of why the board had declined to fill the District 1 seat. The board voted 2-2 not to respond to the council’s letter.
The Tribal Council’s letter ends by stating:
“As a long-time partner of Goodhue County, and on behalf of our tribal members who are your constituents as well as ours, we ask that you provide us with the justification for refusing to fill the open position. Alternatively, we hope that the county will fill the open seat promptly.”
The five members of the Tribal Council signed the letter.
Since the District 1 seat became vacant in April when Commissioner Ron Allen died, the Tribal Council has publicly reached out to the board three times in an attempt to ask that the seat be filled.
On May 8, the council sent a letter that expressed support for Scott Safe to be appointed as interim board member. Safe had served in Allen’s place while Allen was undergoing cancer treatment. Council secretary Nicci Lehto told the County Board that residents of Prairie Island Indian Community needed representation at the county level during a June board meeting.
On Thursday, Board President Brad Anderson and Commissioner Paul Drotos voted to craft a letter to be sent to the Tribal Council. Commissioners Barney Nesseth and Jason Majerus, the board members who are opposed to making an appointment for the open seat, voted not to send a letter to the Tribal Council.
“We are not happy. Not happy at all. We just feel that it’s not right,” Tribal Council President Shelley Buck said when asked for comment on the board's decision.
Buck stressed that Prairie Island houses Treasure Island, the largest single employer in the county. As the board begins the budgeting process for 2020, Buck and the council would like to know that someone is representing them at the county level.
Buck stressed that though the Prairie Island Tribal Council has not yet received a reply from the County Board, it will continue reaching-out to commissioners as asking for representation for District 1.