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Legislation allows county to consider appointing offices

WILLMAR –– The Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that would allow Kandiyohi County to appoint, rather than elect, the county auditor/treasurer and recorder.

The bill, which was approved in 2013 by the Senate but failed to make it to the House floor last year, was approved last night in the House on a vote of 85 to 42, according to County Administrator Larry Kleindl.

The legislative action, which still needs the signature of Gov. Dayton, does not mean the two positions will be appointed. But it does give the county the authority to make the change if it chooses.

On Tuesday — in anticipation of the pending legislation — the County Commissioners set a public hearing for 10 a.m. on March 18 to take testimony on the merits of appointing people to the offices or maintaining the current election process.

The board will vote that day on whether or not to adopt a resolution to proceed with the appointment process

Adoption of the resolution requires a vote of at least 80 percent of the board, which means four of the county’s five commissioners have to vote yes in order for it to be approved.

If the resolution is approved, residents have 60 days to file a petition requesting a referendum to take the issue to voters.

The commissioners have been discussing the appointment option for the last two years, when former auditor Sam Modderman retired mid-way through his four-year term.

Mark Thompson was appointed to fill Modderman’s unexpired term.

If the appointment process is approved, it’s expected that Thompson and current County Recorder Julie Kalkbrenner would be appointed to the positions.

If the election process is kept, then Thompson and Kalkbrenner would have to run for re-election this fall.

Candidates can file to run for office starting May 20.

The legislation pertains not only to Kandiyohi County but also Clay, Lake, Jackson and Lyon counties, which are also pursuing public discussion on whether to appoint officers.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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