North Branch residents crowded into city council chambers Tuesday night to debate -- and ultimately delay -- a censure resolution against their mayor and one of their council members.
Mayor Kirsten Hagen-Kennedy and Council Member Kathleen Blomquist are facing a resolution that would censure them and strip them of their committee assignment, after they testified before the Minnesota Senate against legislation the rest of the council supports.
After a contentious public comment period -- and news that both the mayor and council member have retained legal council -- the council voted to delay action on the censure motion until their next meeting. The extra time would give the city attorney time to review the issue, said City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad.
"We heard quite a lengthy amount of public comment last night, on both sides of the issue," Konrad said.
At issue is the question of whether North Branch's three-member Water and Light utility board should expand to five members. Three members of the five-member City Council support the expansion. Hagen-Kennedy and Blomquist do not, and traveled to St. Paul last month to testify against legislation that would have allowed the city to add more seats to the board.
The censure resolution, introduced by Council Member Joyce Borchardt, calls the testimony "improper," since they represented themselves as mayor and council member, rather than as public citizens, and did not mention that the legislation had majority support. The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted the bill down after their testimony.
Video of Tuesday night's hearing is online here. The next meeting of the North Branch City Council will be May 12.