Whether they knew him as a Goodhue County commissioner or a military veteran, colleagues of Ron Allen described him as a good listener. On Friday it was their turn to speak on his behalf.
Allen died April 19, 2019, from leukemia. The husband, father of three and grandfather was 63.
Dan Rechtzigel said he met Allen on the campaign trail in 2004 when both men were running for Goodhue County Board. They would go on to serve together for more than a decade.
“I immediately liked him,” Rechtzigel said of Allen. “I liked his passion, I liked his energy and I knew that he cared.”
Though they had policy disagreements over the years, Rechtzigel said Allen was always respectful and attentive to the needs of county residents. He also said Allen recognized the importance of having a long-range vision for the county, such as safety and infrastructure projects.
“I had Highway 52 running through most of my district, and he was probably the furthest away from it, and yet he cared and knew it was big-picture,“ Rechtzigel said. “He knew it was going to be good for the county in the future.”
Allen’s public service was accompanied by 31 years of military service, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the army at the rank of colonel. He also served as K-W school psychologist during the 2017–2018 school year.
Retired Goodhue County Veterans Service Officer Bob Davis said Allen would frequent his office to swap stories.
“Ron was easy to talk to, easy to work with,” Davis said. “He would listen to me.”
County Administrator Scott Arneson in an email Friday praised Allen’s 14 years of service on County Board as well as other boards and committees in the county. He said Allen will be remembered for his dedication to transportation issues and planning for parks and trails.
“Needless to say, we will all miss Commissioner Allen more than words can express,” Arneson said. “He was not just our co-worker, but our good friend.”
Allen represented District 1 on the County Board, which covers parts of Red Wing and Welch Township. He stepped away from the position in 2018 to undergo cancer treatment, replaced by interim Commissioner Scott Safe. Allen’s term was set to expire in January 2021.
Scott Safe has been interim commissioner during Allen’s medical leave.
Commissioners met on Tuesday to discuss options to fill Allen’s seat on the board. A public hearing for District 1 residents to give input and offer their candidacy will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, May 13 in the Red Wing Government Center boardroom.
Following the hearing, commissioners will have the option of appointing someone to the board until a special election can be held. State election law and the time requirement for candidate filings mean November would be the earliest for a special election, though it could be pushed to February 2020 if there are more than two candidates and a primary election is needed, County Attorney Stephen O’Keefe told commissioners on Tuesday.