Stacy, Minn., to elect new city council, mayor following recent annexation of nearby township

On April 9, voters in Stacy, Minn., will head to the polls to cast their ballots in a special election for city council. Uniquely, all four council positions and the mayorship are in play. This is because the City of Stacy recently annexed neighboring Lent Township.

Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig approved the Stacy-Lent annexation last August with an effective date of Dec. 29, 2023. At that point, the Lent Township ceased to exist and, as a result, its elected board of supervisors dissolved.

As part of the annexation, city and township officials agreed to elect an entirely new city council and mayor in order to include former township voters whose previously elected government no longer exists.

Under the arrangement, two members of the new city council will be elected from a new ward that covers what was previously Lent Township. Five candidates are running in this ward. Three of those candidates—Jeff Barrett, Carolyn Cagle, and Brian Seekon—were members of Lent’s board of supervisors until its dissolution last year. The other two candidates—Brandon Price and John Scott—are newcomers.

The remaining two council seats will be elected from Stacy’s pre-annexation boundaries. Dennis Thieling and Tim Sawatzky, both current members of the Stacy City Council, are the only candidates running for these two spots.

Voters will also elect a new mayor at-large. Incumbent Stacy Mayor Mark Utecht is running to retain that position where he faces former Lent Supervisor Rick Keller and Tim Berrini.

In the two city council races, how many votes a candidate receives won’t just determine the winner, it will also determine how long the winner will hold office.

The candidates with the most votes in both wards will hold office until 2026. The second-place finishers, along with the mayor, will need to run for re-election in November to serve until 2028.

In Minnesota, municipal boundary adjustments—like the Stacy-Lent annexation—have to go through the Municipal Boundaries Adjustment Unit (MBAU). The MBAU is a state entity that oversees all such land transfers, which include annexations, consolidations, and incorporations.

Overall, the MBAU has approved 11,740 boundary changes since 1959. That averages out to about 181 per year. But many of these changes are relatively minor adjustments.

The Stacy-Lent annexation, though, is relatively large. At more than 17,000 acres, it is the 32nd-largest land transfer the MBAU has approved to date.

The MBAU has approved 121 changes that involved more than 1,000 acres, like the Stacy-Lent annexation, since its inception. This comes out to a little under two large land transfers per year.