by Mike Knaak
St. Joseph’s newest City Council member says she wants to help residents connect with their local government.
The St. Joseph City Council appointed Anne Buckvold to the council’s vacant seat at a special meeting May 17.
Buckvold was one of eight people who applied for the vacancy created when Matt Killam resigned at the end of April. Buckvold was elected on a 4-0 vote.
“I am a natural connector. I really like connecting with people,” Buckvold said after being appointed. “I like figuring out where people are at, what their concerns are and then creating clarity and getting people moving in a common direction.”
Buckvold has lived in St. Joseph for about 10 years. “I’ve wanted to take greater responsibility in and for my local community.”
Buckvold has not held elective office but she ran unsuccessfully for the state House of Representatives in District 13A in 2016.
“Most of the door knocking was in St. Joseph,” she said. “I was surprised how little they were interested in the legislature but really concerned about decisions at the city level. I’d like to pick up on that and follow up on those concerns.”
Buckvold currently serves on Stearns County’s human services advisory board. She previously has been on the St. Joseph park board and the Metro Bus Advisory Council.
She has done community organizing work, focusing on public transportation with ISAIAH, a faith-based action group.
Plans call for Buckvold to be sworn in at the council’s June 4 meeting. She will fill in for the rest of Killam’s term and the seat will be up for election in November. Buckvold said she plans to run in November.
The other applicants were Dennis Dunphy, James Eiynck, Brian Theisen, Robert Ringstrom, Aaron Lindblad, Jon Bruns and Amber Wiese.
The council members were impressed with the high number of applicants.
“All these candidates are really good,” said Mayor Rick Schultz, after interviewing the eight applicants. “They want some civic engagement. They are all here for the right reason.”
Council member Dale Wick suggested asking the seven who didn’t get the appointment if they would be interested in serving on city boards and committees.
The vote was taken after each of the eight applicants interviewed for 10 minutes with each council member. Then each council member listed their top three candidates. After a short discussion, the council voted.
Buckvold’s family includes spouse Sam Johnson, an art professor at the College of St. Benedict, and four children. She currently works in the St. Cloud school district. Buckvold, 42, earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maine. She completed her undergraduate study at Skovtofte Pedagogical College in Denmark. She grew up in Minneapolis.
“I see it (St. Joseph) as growing with a level of distinction with small businesses and the arts,” Buckvold said. “I want to continue that growth where people feel connected and undertstand what’s happening in their city and why. I want St. Joseph to be a model city of how a small town can do it right.”