In a stunning display of its disregard for its own rules, the County Board confirmed candidate Chris Matter to the District 2 Supervisor seat vacated in September by former Supervisor Agnes Ring.
Ms. Matter was not one of the candidates Board Chairman Roger Larson had previously advanced to the Board for consideration at the October regular meeting. According to the current bylaws, the Board Chairman has the duty and authority to select and appoint an interim Supervisor when an elected member cannot complete his/her full term on the Board. The appointment is then confirmed or denied by a majority vote of the full Board.
In St. Croix County, the bylaws also allow the Chairman to advance more than one candidate for consideration at his/her discretion. In the event there is more than one candidate put forward by the Chair, each Board member votes for his/her preferred candidate. In order to win the appointment, a candidate must receive votes from a majority of the Board.
Board Chair Roger Larson followed the established procedures, held interviews with the candidates, and also turned to Chief Deputy Cathy Borgschatz from the Sheriff’s Department to help impartially screen applicants.
Consistent with the procedures in the bylaws, two candidates were advanced to the full County Board for consideration and confirmation at the October regular meeting. When the confirmation vote came up at the October Board meeting, it appeared to anyone observing the process that the Chairman had not advanced the candidate that other board members had seemingly pre-selected for the position.
Following presentations from the two selected candidates, as Chair Larson was instructing the County Clerk to start handing out the ballots to vote for one of the two candidates he had forwarded per the bylaws, Supervisor Roy Sjoberg, apparently not satisfied with the candidates advanced by the Chairman, interrupted the confirmation process and motioned to table the appointment vote until all the candidates who applied could be included in the vote of the full board.
His rationale was that the current process was not fair, and that “out of fairness”, the Board should vote on all applicants, rather than abide by the current rules, and vote on only the candidates selected and presented under the authority of the Chairman. Supervisor Sjoberg went on to demonstrate a clear bias for a particular candidate “who had been recommended by one of the Town Chairs”, and was ruled out during the interview process. Supervisor Dan Hansen also iterated a similar sentiment, and cited the absence of the same candidate who had “been recommended by a Town Chairman”.
After some discussion, Corporate Counsel Scott Cox indicated that in order to do what was Sup. Sjoberg was suggesting, the Board would first have to suspend the bylaws to move forward. Sjoberg immediately motioned that the rules be suspended, and the motion was seconded by Sup. Dan Hansen. After some rather strenuous objections by several other Supervisors, the Board then voted 14-4 to suspend its own rules, and strip the Chairman of his authority to appoint for the position. This was immediately followed by a 16-3 vote to table the appointment vote until the following month, when all the candidates could be included.
It appeared to be fairly obvious to this observer that the move was made in order to circumvent the bylaws and override the authority of the Chairman in an attempt to include a preferred candidate who had not been advanced for consideration during the standard process.
View a short, time compressed 6 minute video of this action:
At the November County Board meeting, 4 candidates gave presentations prior to a vote. In the first round of voting, Ms. Chris Matter, the candidate who had not been advanced by the Chairman, and for whom a clear bias was publicly displayed at the previous meeting, was selected by a majority vote of 11 Supervisors.
While the Board was technically within its rights to suspend its own rules and appoint a candidate other than one the Chairman had advanced for consideration, the manner in which Board members appeared to circumvent their own rules to achieve an apparent predetermined desired outcome seems highly suspicious.
What do you think?