MONTEVIDEO — Chippewa County voters approved making the county auditor/treasurer and recorder positions appointed rather than elected, but in a close vote.
Voters supported the change by a 1,192 to 1,094 vote, according to an unofficial tally of the ballots Tuesday night in the mail-in election. Voters had until 8 p.m. Tuesday to deliver their ballots to the courthouse in Montevideo.
The county's first ever mail-in balloting proved successful in attracting an election turnout of 33 percent, considered good for a special election of this type.
The county had mailed out over 7,500 ballots to eligible voters in the county. The first ballots began arriving by mail to the courthouse on Jan. 17.
"The people have spoken about what they want and we will carry out their will now,'' said
Jeffrey Lopez, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. He said the commissioners wanted voters to decide the issue, rather than seek special legislation.
Lopez said he was happy the measure passed, but added that it would be safe to say the commissioners would have lived with the result and not sought special legislation had voters rejected it.
The commissioners argued that the functions of these offices today are administrative, and they want to be assure that they can hire qualified people with the technical skills needed for them.
They put the matter to a vote after learning that Auditor/Treasurer Jon Clauson is retiring later this month after a 43-year career with the county. The commissioners noted that Clauson and County Recorder Amy Rodeberg have the skills and experience the positions demand.
The commissioners have appointed Michelle May, a county resident and former finance director in Yellow Medicine County, to serve the remainder of Clauson's term. It expires at the end of the year.