At Forest Lake Meeting, Questions of Residency Aimed at Council Member

September 25, 2017 11:13 PM

At a City Council meeting in Forest Lake Monday, Council Member Mike Freer wasn't there. His seat was empty.

That was disappointing to some, but didn't stop citizens from questioning where the embattled elected official lives.  

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Longtime resident Matt Arntzen spoke at the podium: "This man doesn't have a horse in the race. My point is, Mike Freer lied to the citizens of Forest Lake."

The two-term council member has publicly stated on election documents and at last month's council meeting that he resided in the community he was elected to represent, as state law and city code requires.

Minnesota State Statute 200.031 says candidates have to live in the precinct while in office and specifically that "the individual's residence is located in the precinct where the individual's family lives."

According to state records, Freer listed an address on 4th Avenue Southwest as his. Jenny Vancanneyt owns two homes on that street, which she called home since the 1990s.

"Nobody lives there -- it's vacant, has been for a while," she said of the address Freer listed.

Arntzen took proof of that with him to the council meeting. He had pictures of the empty home, with windows broken, wiring hanging loose, the ceiling falling, walls crumbled, no flooring and the front door wide open. He intended to confront Freer with the pictures during the meeting, but Freer didn't show up.

Efforts to reach Freer by phone, text, email and social media were not returned. A source confirmed he was living at a home on North Eagle Lake Boulevard in Maple Grove, 34 miles away and in a different city -- even a different county -- than the place the Forest Lake City Councilman claims to live. Christy Freer, the council member's wife, answered a knock on the door and said, "He's not here right now."  

When asked if he lived there, she replied, "He does sometimes."

It is up to the City Council to determine if residency requirements aren't being met and to share that information with the County Attorney and Secretary of State's office. The League of Minnesota Cities says councils do have some discretion in the event an elected official travels temporarily, say for a vacation for a few weeks during the winter.

Freer has been on the council since 2010. His current term runs through 2018. 

Credits

Beth McDonough

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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