Lundberg resigns, Marsh appointed to fill vacancy in Dunn Co.
Commission Chairman Larry Lundberg resigned after an approximately two month leave of absence. Sheriff Kuhn broke the tie in a split vote, choosing former Commissioner JoAnn Marsh to fill the void.
MANNING, N.D. — The Dunn County Commission met Wednesday, May 17 for a regularly scheduled meeting. During the meeting Commissioner Cody Buehner read a letter from Commission Chairman Larry Lundberg, which offered his resignation effective June 1. He cited his wife Jodi’s ongoing health issues as the reason. Prior to that Lundberg had been on a leave of absence since March.
“I would like to thank the people of Dunn County for the opportunity to serve and their support,” Lundberg stated in the letter.
Commissioner Tracey Dolezal said that ND Century Code demands that they “immediately” find and appoint a suitably qualified individual to fill the seat.
“It's not something we can put out there and wait, we need to do it as soon as possible,” she said.
Each commissioner was allowed to make nominations. Commissioner Robert Kleeman nominated Dave Olson. Dolezal nominated former Commissioner JoAnn Marsh, who was defeated in her 2022 re-election bid. Olson was also an unsuccessful candidate in that election. The vote to appoint an interim commissioner was a split one, with Commissioner Craig Pelton voting for Olson and Buehner voting for Marsh.
Rep. Dori Hauck spoke in favor of Olson, praising him as a man who’s deeply involved in his community. Resident Debi Biffert also lobbied for Olson, and said he would bring greater diversity of geographic representation. Dunn County currently elects commissioners in an open seat system.
“I would like to see the county go back to districts, because we are in the south/southeast part of the county. And we really haven't had any representation there for a long time,” Biffert said.
Buehner said Century Code allows for another county elected official to be the tie-breaking vote. Dolezal asked Sheriff Gary Kuhn if he would be willing to fill that role, and he voted to appoint Marsh.
“It's not an easy decision. Obviously, I think they're both very qualified candidates,” Kuhn said. “Since JoAnn has been in that capacity as a commissioner and just recently (left) and hasn't been off the commission rule for too long, she would be probably the easiest one to catch up on what's going on with our community and provide that smooth transition into what our county needs at this time.”
North Dakota Century Code section 44-02-05 outlines the process of filling a vacancy on a board of county commissioners.
It states the following, "When a vacancy occurs in the board of county commissioners, the remaining members of the board immediately shall appoint some suitable person to fill the vacancy from the district in which the vacancy occurred. If a majority of the officers fails to agree upon a person to fill the vacancy, the county treasurer or, if the county does not have an elected treasurer, another elective county officer must be called in and shall act as an additional member of the board to fill the vacancy. The appointee holds office until the appointee's successor is elected at the next general election that occurs at least ninety-five days after the vacancy and the successor has qualified."
Dolezal noted Dunn County is seeking to ease the workload and hire someone as deputy auditor temporarily, a little over one year, while Sally Whittingham serves as interim county auditor. Whittingham was deputy auditor until Auditor-elect Jessica Kirchoffner resigned.
"Sally has been doing double duty all this time. We need to move forward," Dolezal said. "We're budgeted for three people in that office."
The roads department welcomed a new hire named Wilbert Meyer. Meyer is a heavy equipment operator with 15 years of experience.
Check back Friday for more on the proceedings of this meeting, including a property dispute involving a road.