Kearney has some learning to do
Matt Kearney has a lot of learning to do in the coming weeks. Rosemount's newest city council member will start his term Feb. 1 and right away the council will dive into the 2011 budgeting process.
"It's going to be a learning process," said Kearney. "I think (the council) have done a very good job keeping taxes down and I want to be able to use my experience to continue on that path."
A self described numbers man, Kearney said numbers are going to be a big part of the next two years. He expects to use his knowledge and experience running a real estate investment company to help the city keep things tight.
"It's a neat thing," Kearney said of being appointed to the council. "I'm honored to have been selected and have big shoes to fill."
To get ready for the position Kearney plans to do a lot of reading and will sit down with city staff so they can brief him on the city's happenings. Kearney also plans on talking with residents to get their take on the city's government.
"I have a pretty good ear and love to sit and listen to people. I hope to be a sounding board for the community," said Kearney.
Kearney beat out 17 other applicants to serve the two years remaining on new State Representative Kurt Bills' term.
When asked why he didn't run in the November election Kearney said the timing wasn't quite right.
"It's something I have given thought to but the timing wasn't right. It's right now," said Kearney.
The council conducted two rounds of interviews. During the first round the council interviewed all 18 candidates over three days. Then the council asked three standouts to come back for a second round. Pamela VanderWiel and Robert Leuth were the other applicants interviewed a second time.
While all three candidates were impressive the council seemed to like Kearney because of his business background. Kearney owns MJK Investments. He has an accounting degree from Iowa State University.
Additionally, Kearney has served on a number of community boards including the SKB Trust Fund, the city of Rosemount Facilities Task Force and the Rosemount Area Hockey Association Board, as president, among others.
To make its decision, each council member wrote two top picks on a piece of paper. All four council members listed Kearney, while VanderWiel and Leuth received two votes apiece.
To validate the process council member Jeff Weisensel suggested each council member write down their number one pick. In that process Kearney received two votes while the others received one apiece. The council then decided they were comfortable moving forward with Kearney.
At the end of the night council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan said she was pleased with the process.
"A lot of these candidates were more qualified to sit on this council than I am," she added.
Not everyone in the community is happy with appointment process. Rosemount veterinarian Kurt Hansen, in a letter to the editor, criticized the council for not holding a special election. He also argued that if the council was going to appoint someone it should have been the third place finisher in the recent election, Tim Judy.
Judy did apply and interview for the position.
State statute gives the council the right to appoint a member to the council in the case of a vacancy. The city council could have passed an ordinance and held a special election but cited cost as a factor not to. The council had budgeted $10,000 for 2011 for a special election, though.
The council will formally appoint Kearney to the council during its Feb. 1 regular council meeting.
Before its Feb. 1 meeting the city council will host an open house at 6:30 p.m. to introduce Kearney to the public. The council also will take comments on its goals for the new year.