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Rochester council president re-elected four months after his death

Posted by: Richard Meryhew Updated: November 7, 2012 - 4:35 PM

Rochester City Council president Dennis Hanson died of a brain aneurysm in June. On Tuesday, he was re-elected to office.

And it wasn’t even close.

Hanson prevailed with 51.5 percent of the more than 46,000 votes cast in the race, with challenger Jan Throndson picking up 43 percent and write-in candidate Jeff Thompson about 5 percent of the vote.

“We’re all very happy,” John Eckerman, a family friend who led the Hanson campaign, told the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

The unusual election came about because Hanson died after deadlines for filing for the office and withdrawing from the race had passed.

Filings closed June 5, with only Hanson and Throndson competing. The deadline for withdrawing from the race was two days later. Hanson died June 27.

Under state law, “his name couldn’t be removed,” said Rochester City Clerk Judy Scherr.

And so the race.

Had Throndson won, he would have assumed the president’s role come January, Scherr said. But because Hanson prevailed, the city must hold a special election, probably next spring, to determine his successor.

Which is what Hanson’s campaign supporters wanted all along.

Scherr said a special election will allow those who supported Hanson's candidacy to consider running for the office themselves.

Hanson, 57, had served on the seven-member city council since 1999 and was elected president in 2004 and again in 2008.

Scherr said a special election will probably be held sometime in April, at the earliest. Before then, the city must advertise filings, prepare the ballots and establish an absentee ballot precinct.

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