A new law grants the boards of commissioners in Kittson and Marshall counties authority to fill their respective county recorder and county auditor-treasurer positions by appointment instead of by popular vote.
Transitioning certain county offices from elected to appointed positions has become a routine occurrence in recent years. Lawmakers have granted similar authority to many other counties, where officials say the positions have grown more professionalized, and that they have trouble recruiting qualified candidates to run for those offices. Supporters say it’s practical, while opponents argue it’s undemocratic.
The law provides that the current officeholders may finish their current terms before the county boards appoint replacements. The counties must provide public notice and the opportunity for public comment before adopting resolutions providing for the changes. The resolutions must be approved by at least 80 percent of the respective county boards. The change must be put to a popular vote if a petition is filed.
The law further provides that residents of the county may force the positions to revert back to elected offices by way of a reverse referendum. If the county board members choose to make the offices elective after they’ve been made appointive, they must wait at least three years until after the initial change.
The law is effective upon local approval.