BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council will determine the future of the At-Large seat at its next meeting, June 15.
The date was set by the council after members were informed about the status of current At-Large Council member Jim Thompson. For the past three meetings, which have been held digitally because of the coronavirus, Thompson has been absent.
According to Bemidji City Attorney Alan Felix, city charter, the council must consider declaring a vacancy after three unexcused absences. Thompson, communicating by way of his wife who called city staff Monday, indicated that he is interested in maintaining his seat.
However, Felix said there was little opportunity for Thompson, who is 87-years-old, to present reasonable excuses for his absences. In order to provide Thompson an opportunity to explain the reasons for his absences, and a plan allowing him to consider participating as the city's at-large representative, the subject was tabled until June 15.
Thompson earned the seat in 2018, defeating Don Heinonen 2,217-2,182. His seat is the only at-large position on the council, with the others representing the city's five wards.
The current term is Thompson's second on the council, as he was also a member of the body from 2010-2014. Before his time in city politics, he served on the Northern Township Board.
If a vacancy was declared, it would result in a second special election for the city, as one is already scheduled for Aug. 11 to fill the Bemidji Ward 2 seat. Mike Beard, who was also elected in 2018, resigned from the position in January, citing health reasons.
In total, it would create six races for city leadership, as Wards 1, 3 and 5, as well as the position of Bemidji Mayor, are all up for election in this cycle.