Rochester officials consider election options after council president’s death

Rochester officials are considering changes in the city election law, following the death last month of City Council President Dennis Hanson.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that the city charter commission has endorsed a change in the charter that would eliminate the need for a special election that would take place on the regular November election day.

State law restricts the city’s flexibility in a case like this, where Hanson died after filing for re-election to his city post. Under the law, Hanson’s name will stay on the November ballot, despite his death. There is one other candidate running and there is a chance of write-in candidacies, too.

If Hanson wins, another election would be held next year to fill his vacant position.

In the meantime, the city charter calls for a special election to fill the rest of Hanson’s term, but the timing is complicated because officials say there is not time to prepare for the special election to coincide with the August primary, and state law does not allow elections between the primary and the November election.

That means that Rochester voters could be faced with two City Council president ballots at the same time on Nov. 6: for the special election and the regular election.

And the winner of the special election would serve only two months before the results of the regular election kick in on Jan. 7.

That’s why the charter commission is looking for the change.

The city council will vote July 23 on a proposal to change the existing rule, and eliminate the double election. It will take a unanimous vote to make the change, the paper said.

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