Richfield’s new mayor takes his seat

 

Richfield Mayor Pat Elliott
Richfield Mayor Pat Elliott

Richfield City Council members welcomed their colleague to his new role as mayor March 28.

After being officially sworn in March 20, Elliott, the former Ward 1 councilmember, took a ceremonial oath at his first council meeting as mayor, raising his right hand in front of City Clerk Elizabeth VanHoose.

The three remaining council members – Elliott’s former seat will be filled with a May 23 vote – expressed their appreciation that Elliott came forward to replace former Mayor Debbie Goettel, who left mid-term after she was elected to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

“I’m glad that you were able to step up,” Councilmember Edwina Garcia said. Garcia surmised that Elliott earned his spot on the council after eight years representing Richfield’s west side.

“You’ve been on the council long enough, where you’ve earned your stripes,” she said.

Elliott’s qualifications may be further boosted by his status as the first Richfield High School graduate to become mayor of the city. That’s according to Steve Lindgren, a fellow Richfield alum and contemporary of Elliott’s who has been heavily involved in local and state politics. That historical nugget had been a surprise to Elliott.

“I never even knew that,” he said in an interview with the Sun Current. “ … I’m kind of proud of that, also.”

Elliott, who would eventually go on to a career in law, played running back on the 1963 state champion Spartan football team.

As a politician, Elliott’s presence on the dais has been characterized by a refusal to mince words, as observed by Councilmember Michael Howard. As Howard took the at-large council seat two years ago, Elliott was unconcerned with blindly dispensing niceties.

“What I learned in that meeting and since, is that you will always do what you think is best for the people you represent,” Howard said.

“You’ll always be fair, you’ll always listen and you’ll always work together with others, and I think all those skills will make an excellent mayor.”

While Elliott may not have treated Howard with kid gloves, Councilmember Maria Regan Gonzalez thanked the mayor for his support as she took her council seat to start the year.

“You’ve been very supportive to me as a new council member,” Regan Gonzalez told Elliott.

She further observed “how attentive you are with residents” in declaring, “I’m very excited in the work we have ahead of us in creating a Richfield that can thrive and benefit everybody.”

Goettel was also in attendance for Elliott’s first council meeting as her replacement. Elliott thanked Goettel for her support in becoming mayor, “and also the support she’s gonna continue to give us all as Hennepin County commissioner. I think it’s gonna be a great benefit to us.”

Elliott will oversee an ongoing period of drastic change to the face of Richfield, including the transformative 66th Street reconstruction project and large-scale redevelopment plans on the east side, including an underpass at 77th Street and Highway 77.

“I think we’ve got a really, really exciting couple of years ahead of us,” Elliott said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Contact Andrew Wig at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.