Back to back vacancies recently left the Polk County Board of Supervisors in an unprecedented situation, leaving Board Chair, Chris Nelson, appointing two new Supervisors; Sharon Kelly-District 8 and Dan Ruck-District 6.
Previous District 8 Supervisor, Jim Edgell recently passed away. Previous District 6 Supervisor, Brian Masters shared he was moving out of state.
A lack of Polk County policy pertaining to the situation left state statutes determining the Chair of the county board shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy with the approval of the rest of the county board.
Georgetown resident Mike Miles, who ran against Masters last April, addressed the topic during Public Comment. Masters won the District with 464 over the 304 Miles received. Miles said, “Today may well be one of the most important County Board meetings in memory. It could determine the make up of our County Board until the spring election in 2022. Chairman Nelson has the authority to make the appointments, but what happens with his suggestions is clearly up to the board.”
He suggested the board could make the appointments temporary until a special election could be held next spring.
“The first option makes our county look more like a theifdom with representation by declaration, the second recognizes that democracy is participatory and that representation is solely in the hands of those being governed. Democracy was never meant to be easy or cheap,” said Miles.
Greg Marsten feels it is an issue to have seats appointed as county residents would prefer to have a choice in who represents them. During Public Comment Marsten said, “The concern that has been expressed by many is that the appointments are very political and that the Chairman who is making the appointments is considering the candidates through their politics rather than their ability to represent all their constituents.”
In response, Nelson said he had spoken to residents of each district, gotten suggestions on names and run them past the Executive Committee.
The Board did ultimately approve Nelson’s appointments for the entirety of the terms.