Four candidates are vying for a vacant seat on the North Branch City Council.

Due to the resignation of North Branch City Council Member Brian Voss following the Sept. 22 council meeting, the council officially declared a vacancy on the council during its Oct. 13 meeting.

City Administrator Renae Fry explained in an email on Nov. 2 that four applications were received for the vacant seat and the council will conduct interviews with those candidates on Nov. 12. The application deadline was Oct. 31. Fry said the city isn’t releasing the names of the applicants at this time.

The council members will make their selection of who they wish to fill the open seat during a special meeting on Nov. 17, with the new council member officially being sworn in during the Nov. 24 meeting. The appointed person will serve in the council seat until Dec. 31, 2022.

During the Oct. 27 council meeting, the council tabled the interview process until its Nov. 10 meeting to allow more time to finalize the specific interview questions it will ask each candidate. And since the application deadline was Oct. 31, the council wanted a little more time to discuss how much time each interview would take. During the Oct. 27 meeting, Fry indicated the city had not yet received any applications to fill the open seat.

Fry did provide the council with the interview questions used to fill a vacant seat in February 2019. She said during the February 2019 interviews, the candidates were given a few interview questions ahead of time, with the rest of the questions being asked during the interview.

Council Member Kelly Neider said she felt the interviews could be done within 15 minutes if there were no more than four or five interview questions, and the candidate completely filled out the application.

Council Member Kathy Blomquist and Mayor Jim Swenson also agreed that 15 minutes should be sufficient.

However, Neider said she would like more time to think about the interview questions.

“I would like to table the questions, because I do have some different questions. We’re in a different environment, we’re in a different state of the city and I do have some questions that I’ve already been thinking about,” Neider said. “But again, I’m with Ms. Fry, that they probably aren’t going to remember them if they are the same candidates by some chance.”

Fry said the council can officially decide on the interview questions at its Nov. 10 meeting, but to provide her with possible questions by Nov. 5. Fry told the council if they want a candidate to complete a specific question prior to the Nov. 12 interviews, she can relay that information to the candidate ahead of time.

Fry said she will schedule 15 minute increments for the interviews on Nov. 12, allowing a 5-10 minute debriefing time following each interview.

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