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No more elections for some offices

Published (5/20/2011)
By Nick Busse
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In what has become a fairly routine occurrence, House members voted May 16 to let a handful of counties make some of their offices appointive rather than elective. Less routine, however, was the list of members voting in favor of the bill.

Sponsored by Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston), HF1544 would apply to the positions of recorder and auditor-treasurer in Freeborn, Marshall and Mower counties. It would provide a process for the county boards to appoint those positions, which are currently elected offices.

Over the years, lawmakers have granted the same authority to numerous other counties, who say those positions have grown more professionalized and that they have trouble recruiting qualified candidates to run for those offices. Though supporters say its practical, some lawmakers argue its undemocratic.

One of those who has consistently opposed switching county offices to appointive is Rep. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake). In spite of his well-known passion for the issue, Westrom announced that he would shock his colleagues by voting in favor of the bill. The reason? He said the bill provides a sufficient process for either county residents or the board to reverse the change.

I dont like this road were going down, but I like the process that Rep. Kiel has worked on and added into her bill, Westrom said.

The House passed the bill 91-41. It now awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Plummer) is the Senate sponsor.

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