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The resignation deadline passed for the Two Harbors mayor. He'll likely face an August recall election

Chris Swanson previously said he wouldn't resign as he faces criticism for his mixing of personal business and public service.

Chris Swanson
Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson listens as residents speak during the public comment period March 28.
Jimmy Lovrien / File / Duluth News Tribune
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TWO HARBORS — A 4:30 p.m. Tuesday deadline for embattled Mayor Chris Swanson to resign has come and gone. It appears he will now face an August recall election.

City staff did not respond to the News Tribune's inquiries on whether Swanson had resigned. But nearly an hour after the deadline passed, Swanson used his official mayoral email address to tell the press he would be making an "announcement" Wednesday morning.

Swanson did not respond to a voicemail or email from the News Tribune seeking comment Tuesday. He previously said he will not resign.

Tuesday marked five business days since the Two Harbors City Council voted 6-1 to call for the recall of Swanson after enough residents signed a recall petition. Only Swanson voted against it.

The city's charter allows for an elected official five days to resign before the city schedules a recall election. According to the resolution passed by the council last week, the recall vote would then be scheduled for the Aug. 9 primary election — the earliest an election can be held in a redistricting year.

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If he resigns or is recalled from office, a special election will be scheduled to fill the mayoral seat, as there are more than two years remaining in his term. Swanson's term is up in January 2025.

"We're not anticipating that he will (resign), so we're expecting the election date to be set here after today, and we look forward to letting the people of Two Harbors stand up and be counted," Todd Ronning, chair of the Resign or Recall Committees, said Tuesday morning.

The recall effort came in the wake of Swanson's underwater hotel and cryptocurrency pursuits and other potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns coming to light.

In a March memorandum of opinion, City Attorney Tim Costley wrote that Swanson repeatedly used his official city position “for personal benefit or business interests” on a number of issues, violating both the city’s communication’s policy and city code.

A hearing on a lawsuit filed by Lake County Republicans Chair Tim Jezierski, who is represented by Swanson's attorney, Brendan Tupa, is scheduled for Monday, according to court records.

The lawsuit seeks to nullify the recall effort, claiming the city's recall process "fails to confirm with Minnesota law" and that organizers failed to define "malfeasance" and misled signers by saying their signatures would not be public.

Recall organizers first submitted a petition that had garnered almost 1,000 signatures, 735 of which were verified by city staff. But organizers withdrew their petition after learning the signatures would be public.

Then, in the matter of five days, organizers collected more than 600 signatures with the full understanding that signatures would be public. City staff verified 535 of those signatures, which is more more than the 498 signatures — 20% of the city's registered voters — required by the city's charter for a petition to move forward and sent the matter to the council to call for the recall.

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This story was updated at 5:42 p.m. May 31 with additional information after the resignation deadline passed. It was originally posted at 12:32 p.m. May 31.

READ MORE BY JIMMY LOVRIEN
With no special session, the earliest the Minnesota Legislature could take action is January.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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