Jody Niess was elected to fill the Ward 2 vacancy on a 5-1 vote by the Decorah City Council Monday night.

Former Council member Julie Fischer moved from Ward 2 last month, creating the vacancy. Niess is the owner of Eclips salon and day spa in downtown Decorah. She will be up for re-election in November.

"The timing was right in my life, and since I live downtown in the middle of everything, it seemed like the right thing to do. It's another way to give back to the community," Niess said.

Niess said she would begin her service on the Council by "just listening."

"I'm happy for the opportunity to serve," she added.

Niess was on the Downtown Decorah Betterment Association Board from 1996-2006 and was elected the organization's first woman president in 2004. She also was a six-year member of the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce Board, serving as Board president from 2006-2007. She is currently a member of St. Benedict Church's finance committee.

Two other Ward 2 residents submitted an application to serve on the Council - Dan Bellrichard, coordinator of student organizations at Luther College, and Dan Voss, a product manager at TriTech Software Systems in Decorah.


In addition to Niess, Council members Carolyn Corbin, Ward 4; Randy Schissel, Ward 5; John Franzen, Ward 1; Paul Wanless, Ward 3; and Gary Rustad, who serves at-large, also will be up for re-election this fall. The term of Council member Rachel Vagts, who serves at-large, doesn't expire until Dec. 31, 2015.

Due to 2010 census redistricting, city ward boundaries have been adjusted. Corbin and Schissel no longer live in their wards. Council members serve four-year terms, but whoever is elected to serve in Ward 4 and Ward 5, will serve the remaining two years of the original four-year term.

Franzen announced Tuesday he may be taking a new job which would require him to step down from the Council.

In addition, the term of Mayor Don Arendt expires at the end of the year.

Filing nomination papers for city office begins Monday, Aug. 26. Nomination papers can be obtained at the city clerk's office at Decorah City Hall or at the Winneshiek County auditor's office at the courthouse.

The deadline to file is Thursday, Sept. 29, at 5 p.m. at city clerk's office. The city election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.