Whitefish City Councilor John Anderson Resigns

Council has 30 days to make appointment to fill open seat

By Tristan Scott
John Anderson speaks during a Whitefish City Council meeting. Beacon File Photo

Whitefish City Council member John Anderson tendered his resignation May 26, a decision that went into effect immediately.

The council has 30 days to name a replacement to fill Anderson’s seat, according to City Manager Chuck Stearns, a post that is up for reelection this year.

Anderson, an attorney with a practice in Whitefish, was elected in 2011 along with councilors Frank Sweeney and Richard Hildner, who both are up for reelection this year and have already filed to run for the seats.

The former councilor’s resignation comes on the heels of several absences from regular council meetings and following the resolution of a slate of issues before the council, including approval of the Haskill Basin conservation easement and the adoption of the Highway 93 West Corridor Plan.

Mayor John Muhlfeld said Anderson’s balanced approach to making decisions that will have a profound influence in the community for decades to come characterized his time served on the council.

“John always kept the best interest of all of Whitefish in mind when casting votes, always evaluating the multitude of issues the council deals with from multiple angles. John will certainly be missed, and on behalf of the City Council I personally thank John for his service to the Whitefish community,” Muhlfeld said.

Of particular recent note, Muhlfeld said Anderson’s work brokering a complex deal to finance the Haskill Basin conservation easement, the final piece of which, a resort tax increase, voters approved in April, but which involved numerous parties and agencies, was an example of his civic commitment, intelligence and work ethic.

“John was one of the hardest working councilors I have had the pleasure of working with over the past 10 years. His greatest contribution to our community in my opinion was his work on protecting open spaces and working forest lands surrounding Whitefish in conjunction with the DNRC, Stoltze Land and Lumber Company, and Whitefish Legacy Partners,” Muhlfeld said. “Quite frankly, without John’s extra effort, I’m not certain those projects would have come to fruition.”

Stearns said he believes the council will advertise the position June 3 and June 10 before interviewing candidates at a work session or special meeting June 15.

Stearns said to his knowledge no one has expressed interest or filed an application.

Until the appointment is made, the council will proceed with business as usual, he said.

“They just need a quorum,” Stearns said.

The last time a Whitefish council member was selected by appointment was when Sweeney was chosen to replace Shirley Jacobson. Prior to that, Muhlfeld was appointed in 2006 to replace Tom Muri.