A dozen residents want to be the newest member of the Owatonna City Council.
Twelve people applied by Friday's deadline for the open Owatonna City Council member at-large position, left vacant following the death of Councilor Jeff Okerberg in May. Applications are currently being processed at the city with a tentative interview date scheduled for June 28.
During the most recent city council meeting, Owatonna City Administrator Kris Busse said they are aiming to have the interim councilor in place in time for the July 6 regular council meeting.
Those who applied are Daniel Boeke, Ethan Cords, Matthew Durand, James “Corky” Ebeling, Dominic Korbel, Angela Lipelt, Josh Meillier, Thomas Murphy, Peng Olson, Justin Ohnstad, Cindy Stelter, and Timothy VanRavenhorst, according to the city.
Boeke is retired from Harland’s Tire and Auto, having sold the business in 2017.
Cords is a stock trader and entrepreneur who graduated Owatonna High School in 2015. He currently serves on the Owatonna Human Rights Commission and recently ran for Owatonna mayor against incumbent Mayor Tom Kuntz in 2020. In 2016, Cords challenged then-president of the Owatonna City Council Les Abraham. In 2018, Cords took a shot at running for House District 24A, but lost his bid in the Democratic primaries. During his 2016 campaign, Cords vocally committed to running for governor of Minnesota in 2022.
Durand is a community planning specialist for Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) and is a former Owatonna city employee. He served three years on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Minimal Impact Design Standards Committee and currently sits on the Steele County Highway Department Task Force. Durand ran for the other council member at-large seat against incumbent Doug Voss in 2020.
Ebeling is the former director of parks, recreation and government buildings for the city of Owatonna, retiring in 2018 after 42 years. He served as a Steele County commissioner from 2008 to 2016 and was a member of the Steele County Free Fair Board for 18 years. He has also sat on a variety of local, state and federal boards and commissions. Ebeling ran to reclaim his seat on the county board, representing District 4, in 2020 against incumbent Jim Abbe.
Korbel is the vice president of administration at Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) and is the former CEO of Fernbrook Family Center. In 2020, Korbel ran for one of the three open seats on the Owatonna School Board along with five other individuals.
Lipelt is the environmental services supervisor for the public works department in Mower County.
Meillier is the president and owner of Alexander Lumber in downtown Owatonna and is the former chair of the Owatonna Planning Commission, having served on the commission 10 years. Meillier is also a former member of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism board of directors.
Murphy is a former officer with the Owatonna Police Department, retiring in 2011 after more than 25 years of service in the patrol division.
Olson is the community relations manager for Federated Insurance. She currently serves on the Engage Owatonna committee, Alliance for Greater Equity board, and is a board trustee for the Owatonna Foundation. Olson was instrumental in Owatonna Forward, JumpStart Owatonna, and the River Springs Water Park grassroots project.
Ohnstad is a realtor with ERA Gillespie and real estate investor. He currently serves on the Southeast Minnesota REALTORS (SEMR) board, the Main Street Owatonna board, and the GEM Days committee.
Stelter is the owner of Central Park Framing and Finds LLC in downtown Owatonna. She is involved in GEM Days, Main Street Owatonna, and JumpStart Owatonna.
VanRavenhorst is the shipping and receiving supervisor at Arkema. He served as a military police with the U.S. Army Reserve for eight years before retiring in 2008.
The last time there was a vacancy on the city council prior to an election was in 2014, when Councilor At-Large Raymond Truelson died prior to the regular election. Following an application and interview process, former Councilor Bill Thompson was selected to fill the position as an interim council until the regular election took place a few months later. Okerberg won that election by 126 votes.
Whoever is selected as the interim councilor will serve the remainder of Okerberg’s term, which expires at the end of 2022. Because it is a member at-large seat, the application was open to anyone living within city limits.
The interim councilor will be coming on board at the beginning of budget season.