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Mayor resigning after 11 years, on council’s request

“What he has done for this community cannot be undone. He has a real legacy of accomplishment.”

City Councilor Eric Warmka

NEW ULM — Robert Beussman is resigning after 11 years as New Ulm’s mayor.

Beussman’s decision to resign came after receiving a letter signed by the city council requesting his resignation. The council believes that Beussman’s ability to perform his duties as mayor was significantly compromised.

In the letter, signed by all five city councilors, Beussman was asked to submit a letter of resignation by April 15. If a letter of resignation was not received by then the council, the question of his removal from office would be placed on the April 20 City Council agenda.

Beussman informed the Journal he will be resigning rather than being forced out of the position. In a letter addressed to the citizens of New Ulm, Beussman said it was a “bittersweet decision for me.”

He wrote, “over the last year, I have had increased medical issues. Knowing that the mayor of New Ulm is a figurehead without voting powers, and researching the Americans with Disability Act, I assumed I could continue with mayoral duties described in the charter/bylaws. However, after receiving a letter last week from the city council that in their opinion I was not doing my duties completely, it is time for me to pass the position to a younger or healthier person.”

The council’s decision to request Beussman’s resignation was not made in a formal meeting. City Manager Chris Dalton said each member of the council had voiced concerns about Beussman’s performance and his health.

According to Dalton, Councilor David Christian had a conversation with Beussman in March. After no action was taken by the mayor, Christian asked Dalton to take the next step. Dalton said he consulted with City Attorney Roger Hippert and met with Council President Andrea Boettger to let her know he would be drafting a letter asking the mayor to resign.

The draft letter was made available at city hall for the council to review. No changes or amendments to the letter were requested. All councilors eventually signed it.

Asked why they signed, some council members expressed concern for Beussman’s health and his ability to make public statements.

Councilor Larry Mack said there were public relations concerns. Members of the community were asking about Beussman’s diminished role in the city as they had not heard him speak on recent issues, like COVID-19.

Councilor President Andrea Boettger cited an incident where Beussman misspoke on the radio regarding the Heartland Express bus route.

Councilor Eric Warmka said he felt awful signing the letter, but based on statements and recommendations from city staff he believed it was necessary.

The council also expressed great appreciation for Beussman’s service to the city.

“I think he has done a great job in the past and I want him to have the best life,” Mack said. He also hoped Beussman would help with the selection of the next mayor.

Warmka said Beussman was nothing but supportive to him and his family from the day he moved to New Ulm.

“What he has done for this community cannot be undone,” Warmka said. “He has a real legacy of accomplishment.”

Neither Councilor David Christian or Councilor Les Schultz could be reached for comment before publication.

The letter requesting Beussman resign stated the council appreciated his efforts to resume the functions of mayor and acknowledged he had vigorously and faithfully performed his duties until the onset of the condition now limiting his abilities.

Beussman was first elected as mayor in 2010. Then-mayor Joel Albrecht asked him to run. Beussman said he never wanted to run agains Albrecht, but Albrecht insisted. Beussman was surprised to win the election. He had campaigned hard for the position but had not expected to win the election.

From his first day in office, one of Beussman’s main goals was to see the funding for the expansion of Highway 14 approved without a heavy financial burden to the citizens of New Ulm. He served as the Highway 14 Partnership president for a time. Recently, funding has been secured for the Highway 14 expansion.

Beussman said his other goals were to bring more community opportunities for those who live here, such as the splash pad, improvements to playgrounds, the holiday lighting of the city tree, improvements to downtown and the bike trail. Another way was to represent the city with professionalism, compassion, respect and honor in all meetings, events and speeches. Beussman feels he has achieved these goals.

“I have cherished every moment and have been honored to serve the city of New Ulm. I consider this one of the greatest accomplishments in my life.”

In retirement, Beussman plans to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

Asked if he had any advice for his successor, Beussman said he did not want to give any suggestions. He did not want any future mayor to feel beholden to follow his advice. His hope was simply that the next mayor would serve the city with dignity.

Beussman will formally resign as New Ulm’s mayor on Thursday, April 15. Boettger, the council president, will become interim mayor until the a new mayor is appointed to fulfill the remaining year and a half of Beussman’s term.

The council is expected to approve a notice at the Tuesday, April 20, council meeting to formally seek candidates to fill the position. After a filing period, the council will interview all mayor candidates and select one to fill the position. Any New Ulm citizen 18 years or older is eligible for appointment as mayor.

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