Decorah City Clerk Wanda Hemesath has confirmed the city will need to hold a special election for the Ward 2 Council seat.
Wednesday, Aug. 7, Winneshiek County Republican Chair Tom Hansen filed a petition with the city calling for the election.
Monday night, Aug. 5, the Decorah City Council voted 5-1 to appoint Emily Neal to fill the vacancy left when Council member Dan Bellrichard moved from Ward 2. The only other applicant for the position, Dan Kirkeby, received one vote.
After the appointment, Winneshiek County Republican Chair Tom Hansen started a petition calling for the special election, which is allowed by Iowa Code.
The petition needed 39 signatures from Ward 2 voters to call for the election and Hansen gathered 56 signatures on his petition.
Neal was appointed to fill the seat until the Nov. 5 general election. She will now serve until the special election.

Setting date
Hemesath said the Council will need to formally set the special election at its next meeting Monday, Aug. 19.
“We must give the county auditor 32-days notice. The earliest election date will be Tuesday, Sept. 24, which we will recommend,” Hemesath said.
Once the election is set, the dates for filing nomination papers for the special election will be announced. Whoever is elected will serve until the general election Tuesday, Nov. 5. Candidates must live in Ward 2 and only residents of Ward 2 will vote in the special election.
Hemesath consulted with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday afternoon on the matter. After researching Iowa Code to determine whether the special election should be held given the timing of the upcoming general election and the date the seat became vacant, July 31, state officials confirmed a special election would need to be held.
The Council chose to fill the Ward 2 opening by appointment to avoid the costs of a special election and due to the short amount of time the appointed Council member will serve. It costs the city about $1,500 to hold a special election.

General election filing dates
The Nov. 5 election will be the first time city and school elections will be combined. Voting has been combined on one day to simplify elections and generate more voter turnout.
The first day to file nomination papers for city and school positions is Monday, Aug. 26, and the last date to file is Thursday, Sept. 19.
Candidates for city office file nomination papers with the county auditor’s office and school candidates file with school board secretaries.