Grand Marais City Hall entrance in downtown Grand Marais - Photo by Rhonda Silence
Rhonda Silence

Grand Marais City Council appoints Tracy Benson to vacant council seat

Tracy Benson is returning to the Grand Marais City Council.

Benson was appointed during a meeting of the city council Wednesday, Sept. 8. Benson previously held a seat on the council but resigned several years ago when she moved to the Twin Cities area.

Now a full time resident of Grand Marais once again, Benson is filling a seat that became vacant when former City Councilor Kelly Swearingen resigned in July.

At that time, Swearingen told WTIP that this was not a decision that was made lightly. Swearingen explained that she had some health issues that she needed to take time and focus on. She said she hoped to be able to once again participate in local government in some way in the future.

Benson was previously appointed to the city council in 2016 to fill a vacancy created when Councilor Jan Sivertson was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. She was subsequently elected to the council and served for most of her term, resigning in February 2018 because she was moving.

Benson has since moved back to the city. In her application, Benson explained that she wants to continue work on projects that were started during her previous time on the council. She said she would also reach out to former Councilor Swearingen to learn her main objectives.

The other applicant, Tina Krauz, said she would like to serve the city and her focus would be increasing worker housing and building community.

As the motion passed to appoint Benson to the council, Councilor Anton Moody noted that this position will be on the ballot for the next election, along with other seats. He said he hopes both Krauz and Benson will still be interested at that time.

Benson’s appointment creates another vacancy, on the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission. Benson is the citizen representative on that board. Craig Schulte is the council representative and only one councilor can serve on that board. At the next meeting, the council will need to decide who will continue to serve on the PUC. The council will also need to appoint another citizen representative.

The city still needs someone to fill the vacancy on the Grand Marais Planning Commission, which had been filled by Swearingen.

In addition, at the Wednesday meeting, when Councilor Craig Schulte gave his report from the Grand Marais Park Board, he said that board also needs a citizen to serve. Board Member Rita Hinchman has resigned from her seat.

Anyone interested in the Grand Marais Park Board, the Planning Commission, or the Public Utilities Commission may contact City Hall at 218-387-1848 for more information.

And stay tuned to WTIP Community Radio, we’ll have an interview with new City Councilor Tracy Benson soon!