The Rice County Board of Commissioners meeting as a committee of the whole discussed whether the County Recorder position should be elected or appointed.

The County Board previously discussed having the County Auditor/Treasurer be an appointed rather than elected position also.

A majority of the commissioners appeared to be in favor of appointing the position.

County Recorder Judy VanErp was in attendance and did not give an opinion either way but each of the commissioners did.

Commissioner Steve Bauer was absent from the meeting.

Commissioner Jeff Docken said appointing those people ensures qualified individuals will be in those positions.

Commissioner Galen Malecha did have some reservations about taking voting rights away from people but could see where his fellow commissioners were going and said times have changed so he could vote having Rice County residents vote on the issue.

Commissioner Dave Miller said the County Board was elected to be "stewards of the taxpayer's dollars" and having a qualified person in those positions, "just makes so much sense."

Commissioner Jake Gillen agreed, saying times have changed. And, at one point during the discussion, County Auditor/Treasurer Fran Windschitl stated, "when it was established as an elected position it provided more of a checks and balances in the system," and added the appointed position might make sense for smaller counties.

During the conversations, commissioners said they were lucky that Windschitl was more than qualified for the position after working in the Minnesota Department of Revenue for a few years and said Van Erp also has done her job well.

County Administrator Sara Folsted said before Rice County residents can voice their opinion on the matter at the ballot box, the county would have to receive enabling legislation from the state Legislature giving the county permission to conduct a vote.

The chances of getting all this accomplished this legislative session didn't sound too good. A bill needs to be introduced at the state Legislature before March 1 asking for the enabling legislation.

Folsted told KDHL after the meeting some counties in western Minnesota had been denied the enabling legislation. So it's not automatic.

County Auditor Treasurer Fran Windschitl presents to County Board of Commissioners in Committee of Whole Meeting. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld February 21, 2017