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TMCNet:  West St. Paul: Controversial council member resigns

[December 18, 2012]

West St. Paul: Controversial council member resigns

Dec 19, 2012 (Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- West St. Paul City Council Member Ed Hansen has abruptly resigned, cutting short a contentious first term that included criticism for flying a Confederate flag and criminal charges for alleged behavior outside his home.

Hansen resigned at the city council's meeting Monday, Dec. 17, during the time set aside for council comments. He cited a lack of time for his reason to call it quits two years before his term was to expire.

"This will be my last meting sitting here," he said. "It's been real. It's been fun, but not real fun.

"It's been interesting to get to get know you all," he continued, directing the comment to the council. "And I do appreciate the time you put in. And now I know what it's like." A self-described "constitutional moderate," the divisive member seemed out of place on the council at times.

Hansen was at odds with some council members on many of the city's more controversial projects. Last year he cast the lone "no" vote against an ordinance that puts a cap on the number of rental licenses for single-family homes in a residential block. He opposed a new ice arena as well as a sports dome, which did get built.

"True to your convictions," council member Ed Iago said to Hansen after he resigned. "Stay true to them and good luck to you in the future." Hansen raised eyebrows and drew stern complaints from residents and council members after flying a Confederate flag outside his Felix Street home earlier this year.

He said he was not concerned the flag historically has been a symbol of racism and that to him it represents "sovereignty, individual rights and individual liberty." Facing ongoing criticism, he eventually removed it.

In August, Hansen was charged with gross misdemeanor misconduct by a public official and misdemeanor disorderly conduct after allegedly acting aggressively toward a contractor and a real-estate agent who were working near Hansen's house. He is due back in court Feb. 11.

Hansen, a franchise owner of a Rocco's Pizza in Little Canada, told the council Monday that he "can't commit the time required to fulfill my obligations of this office." He then read a few pages of a Ron Paul book that refer to the Constitution, the American political system and federal funding and its impact on local government.

"You know, if it were up to me, everybody, you'd be the king of your castle and there would be no property taxes," Hansen, 42, said. "But there's nothing I can do at this level (of government), I feel. ... So adios." Mayor John Zanmiller said Tuesday that Hansen told him privately before the council meeting that he was going to resign.

The city council will begin the process of appointing someone to fill the remainder of his term at its Jan. 14 meeting, the mayor said. The city charter requires a special election only when more than two years of a term remain.

Hansen's departure means the city council will have four new faces next year.

"Anytime you put fresh horses on the wagon good things happen -- new energy, new ideas," Zanmiller said.

Nick Ferraro can be reached at 651-228-2173. Follow him at

___ (c)2012 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) Visit the Pioneer Press (St.

Paul, Minn.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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