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New Moorhead mayor sacrifices office to make room for city prosecutor

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Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd stands Dec. 21, 2018, in the City Council chambers. Forum file photo
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MOORHEAD — The new year brings some good news and some bad news for the city of Moorhead.

The good news is Moorhead has found a place to set up its new city prosecutor's office inside Moorhead City Hall, a step necessitated by the fact the Clay County Attorney's Office told Moorhead officials late last year that as of Feb. 1 it would no longer provide prosecution services for low-level city cases.

The bad news?

To free up space in City Hall, Moorhead's newly elected Mayor Johnathan Judd "has graciously agreed to not have an office at City Hall," said John Shockley, an attorney who represents the city of Moorhead.

The mayor's office is located above the Moorhead Center Mall and boasts numerous windows that afford grand views of downtown Moorhead and beyond.

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Under the new plan, Shockley said part of the mayor's office will be converted into space for city staff while other office space in City Hall will be used by the new prosecutor's office, which the city now plans to staff with three attorneys and two support positions — a change from earlier plans that called for two attorneys and two support staff.

Shockley went before the Clay County Board of Commissioners in December to ask for permission to use space in the law enforcement center shared by the Moorhead Police Department and the Clay County Sheriff's Office, which is located near the Clay County Courthouse.

County commissioners, however, turned down the request, citing concerns from newly elected Sheriff Mark Empting and other county staff, who said the plan could create safety issues and other problems.

The county looked for other space the city could possibly use and offered part of a county transportation building some distance from the courthouse, but that location did not meet the city's needs, Shockley said.

Reached by phone Thursday, Jan. 3, Judd said he had some thoughts regarding the city's plans and he believes a number of positives will come out of them, but he said he wanted to reserve detailed comments for a later time.

Shockley said city officials were focused on getting the prosecutor's office set up, and he said the city manager's office will likely turn to the question of what to do regarding the mayor's office once that has been accomplished.

Moorhead mayoral office 01-03-2019
Former Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams stands in her office in this photo from 2015. Her successor, Johnathan Judd, plans to give up the office, so the city prosecutor's office will have space to operate. Forum file photo

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