Long-simmering tension on the Spring Lake Park City Council escalated into a stormy exchange last week between the mayor and a City Council member who recently ran against her.
The two city officials in the Anoka County suburb sparred over the mayor’s annual appointment picks for local and regional boards, commissions and committees, a normally routine item at the first meeting of each year.
Council Member Barbara Goodboe-Bisschoff said her appointments have been cut each year since she took office two years ago, dropping from seven in 2017 to four last year to one this year.
Mayor Cindy Hansen, who makes the appointments for the five-member council to vote on, recommended Goodboe-Bisschoff be placed on the Coon Creek Watershed District Citizens Advisory Commission for 2019. Other City Council members were appointed to seven or eight groups as the council’s main liaisons or alternates.
Goodboe-Bisschoff said she suspects her appointments have been cut because she ran and lost against Hansen for mayor in November. Nearly 69 percent of voters backed Hansen, who has held the office since 2010.
“I feel like she’s really taking it out on me big time,” said Goodboe-Bisschoff.
Hansen said the heated mayoral race played no part in her decision, citing instead problems that she alleges have arisen over Goodboe-Bisschoff’s “inappropriate” conduct from previous appointments.
Each year, City Council members act as liaisons to groups that include the planning commission, the North Metro Mayors Association, the area school board, the fire department and the committee that puts on Tower Days, the annual festival in the city of 6,500.
“It is my belief that you are a liability to this council and the residents,” Hansen told Goodboe-Bisschoff at the Jan. 7 meeting. “I will not lose precious, precious volunteers because of your actions on various committees.”
At the meeting, the mayor also raised concerns about illegal campaign practices during the recent mayoral contest. Goodboe-Bisschoff said she was fined $50 for making an error on a campaign finance form and regretted the misstep.
During the barbed back-and-forth inside City Hall, the mayor at one point threatened to have Goodboe-Bisschoff removed from the council chambers.
“For the two years you have been on council, you have never ever given me the respect I have earned and deserved as mayor,” Hansen said. “From this day on, you will speak to me and address me as ‘madam mayor’ as the rest of staff and council does, or you will not speak.”
The mayor wrote in an e-mail this week that she would appreciate Goodboe-Bisschoff presenting her ideas in “the proper manner and in a constructive way.”
Goodboe-Bisschoff said she isn’t afraid to ask questions during meetings and vote against the rest of the council. The tension, she said, isn’t new, tracing back to her initial decision to run for office in 2016.