DECORAH — Decorah City Clerk Wanda Hemesath has confirmed the city will hold a special election for the Ward 2 Council seat.

On Aug. 5, the Decorah City Council voted 5-1 to appoint Emily Neal to fill the vacancy left when council member Dan Bellrichard moved from Ward 2. The only other applicant for the position, Dan Kirkeby, received one vote.

After the appointment, Winneshiek County Republican Chair Tom Hansen started a petition calling for the special election, which is allowed by Iowa Code. The petition needed 39 signatures from Ward 2 voters. It got 56.

Hemesath said the council must formally set the special election date at its meeting Monday.

“We must give the county auditor 32 days notice. The earliest election date will be Tuesday, Sept. 24, which we will recommend,” Hemesath said.

Once the election is set, dates for filing nomination papers will be announced. Whoever is elected will serve until the general election on Nov. 5. Candidates must live in Ward 2, and only residents of that ward will vote in the special election.

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Hemesath consulted with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, which determined a special election would be required.

The council had chosen to fill the Ward 2 opening by appointment to avoid the costs of a special election and due to the short amount of time the appointed council member would serve. It costs the city about $1,500 to hold a special election.

The Nov. 5 election will be the first time city and school elections will be combined. Voting has been combined on one day to simplify elections and generate more voter turnout.

The first day to file nomination papers for city and school positions is Aug. 26, and the last date to file is Sept. 19.

Candidates for city office file nomination papers with the county auditor’s office and school candidates file with school board secretaries.

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