Grand Forks City Hall. (Grand Forks Gazette File Photo)

Byelection for empty Grand Forks council seat to be held early next year

The seat opened up after councillor Rod Zielinski resigned on Aug. 13

A familiar face was missing at Monday’s (Aug. 17) council meeting.

Coun. Rod Zielinski resigned his seat on Aug. 13 to take up the role of utilities manager for the city of Grand Forks. That has left the council down a member, and the city is now looking at holding a byelection to fill the empty seat.

Measures to deal with an election during the pandemic are being considered, such as acquiring a voting machine to reduce the handling of ballots, or the viability and legality of running a mail-in vote.

The first step towards holding the byelection is appointing a chief elections officer, by or around Oct. 5.

Were the city to do so earlier, a possible election would fall into the Christmas season, as they have 80 days from the appointment to hold the election.

READ MORE:City of Grand Forks hires new utilities manager

By appointing the elections officer on Oct. 5, the city is aiming to have the election between Jan. 20 and 30 in 2021.

Currently, the city is projecting the byelection to cost about $20,000, with a regular general election in Grand Forks costing around $35,000. If the city decides to go forward with voting machines, or need a different venue in which to conduct the vote, those costs may increase.

In order to get the most out of its money, the city will also consider whether to add any questions that require a referendum to the ballot.

Whether any questions will be added, and what those might be, will be decided by council at a later meeting.

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