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County moves closer to appointed auditor and recorder positions

For over 20 years, Steve McMahon was Lake County’s auditor. He was up for election every four years, but almost always ran unopposed.  Legislation awaiting a vote in the Minnesota House could make running for the position a thing of the past altogether.

On Tuesday, the county passed a resolution notifying the public of its intent to make the county recorder and the auditor/treasurer jobs appointed positions. A bill that would allow Lake County to do so passed the Senate last session and may come up for a vote in the House soon.

"It's my understanding that there’s a chance that (it could be passed) this week and it will be on the governor's desk a couple days later,” said county administrator Matt Huddleston.

Commissioners have said that the change has been a long time coming, and that it will allow them to choose the most qualified candidate and have continuity in the positions

"Our intention was never to move somebody out of that position,” Commissioner Rick Goutermont said on Tuesday.

McMahon retired last week; his term will be up at the end of this year. Lola Haus, the county’s former financial coordinator has been appointed to fulfill the rest of his term. Erica Koski is currently the recorder for the county.

"As long as she wants to remain in that position, our intent would be to appoint her,” Huddleston said of Koski.

The county is required to hold a public meeting so residents can comment on the proposed change. If the legislation passes, a new auditor could be appointed as early as May.

A public meeting will be held March 18. The county board could pass a resolution changing the way it fills the auditor/treasurer and recorder positions that same day. Then, residents would have 60 days to file a petition for appeal, which would have to be signed by 10 percent of the registered voters in the county. If no one files a petition, the county could begin recruiting candidates to fill the posts after that 60-day period.

Make your voice heard

What: Public meeting on changing the county auditor/treasurer and recorder positions from elected to appointed

When: March 18 at 6 p.m.

Where: Lake County Law Enforcement Center in the basement of the courthouse

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141