On January 19th, 2023 we lost a beloved community member and District 1 sitting county commissioner, Pete Walsh. Pete was one of the founding members of the Finland Fire Department and was an active leader in supporting public safety and local emergency services his whole life. Pete has served as a Lake County Commissioner since he was elected in 2012 and took office in January of 2013. “Pete was just a great public servant,” comments District 5 Commissioner Rich Sve. “He gave back to his community.”
Our county commissioner’s responsibility is to help oversee all the departments of the county such as human services, highway department, sheriff’s office, etc… Public safety was always a priority for Pete Walsh. “His driving force was certainly always behind public safety, the rescue squad, sheriff’s department, fire department, ambulance service and things such as that. That was a natural fit for him because his whole life he had dedicated to those community resources and services. Serving as fire chief of the Finland/Isabella emergency search and rescue squad. He was always seeking to improve what he could for the community and especially for the volunteers that worked in those areas. He sat on the ambulance board, as well as participated in the mental health task force. That was his main drive. He had a lifetime of experience and background in these public services. His drive was how to make life better for everybody. He wanted to help. He wanted to help everybody in every manner that we possibly could,” says Rick Goutermont, District 2 Lake County Commissioner.
From here with the loss of our District 1 sitting commissioner, the Lake County Board of Commissioners will have to declare a vacancy and need for a special election. This action will be taken in the upcoming February 14th meeting. Once the board declares a vacant seat for District 1, it will go out to the public and be advertised for two weeks so that people can file for the seat if they so choose. It will be open for individuals to file for the seat for two weeks and then will close. The general election will then depend on how many people file by that deadline. If only two people file, the general election will take place on May 9th. If more than two people file, there will be a primary election on May 9th, and a general election to follow on August 8th. The position for County Commissioner District 1 will be advertised in this newspaper. For now, the seat will be vacant and the other district commissioners will divide up and prioritize District 1 amongst themselves until the general election takes place.
There are some basic requirements to apply, including a residency in said district. District 1 covers quite a bit of area. Part of Silver Bay, Little Marais up to the County line going north, part of the Stoney River Township and over to Fall Lake. The commissioner represents the people and communities in their district on the county board. Not only on a county level, but also on the State and Federal level. “It’s a big job,” says Rich Sve. It has been a hard hit to lose such an incredible participating community member and Pete has left some big shoes to fill. There will be further updates provided in the process of moving forward.