Clay decides to limit search for attorney
One of Clay County's stable of prosecutors will be tapped by the county board to replace their soon-to-be former boss. Clay County commissioners on Tuesday decided to limit the search for Lisa Borgen's replacement to attorneys who work in her office.
One of Clay County's stable of prosecutors will be tapped by the county board to replace their soon-to-be former boss.
Clay County commissioners on Tuesday decided to limit the search for Lisa Borgen's replacement to attorneys who work in her office.
Borgen was appointed a district judge for the 7th Judicial District - which includes Clay County - last week by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. She submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday stating Feb. 1 would be her last day as county attorney.
Because Borgen was up for re-election in November, the county board plans to pick a temporary replacement for the rest of the year.
Borgen offered some advice on where the commissioners should look for her successor.
"I would suggest you consider appointing someone from my office," she said. "I think we run a pretty good shop down there."
Board members Jon Evert and Ben Brunsvold said they prefer to open the search to all who qualify to hold the office.
"You're closing the door to the possibility there's any other lawyer out there that can do this job," Brunsvold said.
Borgen said a wider search doesn't make sense to her, because few attorneys will be willing to leave private practices for a short-term appointment.
A majority of the board, Jerry Waller, Mike McCarthy and Kevin Campbell, agreed with Borgen. "I just think we owe it to the staff to go internal for the short term," McCarthy said.
Whoever is appointed to fill Borgen's shoes will have an advantage in November's election.
Picking an outsider to head the office would send a message to voters that Borgen's two chief assistants aren't up for the job, Campbell said.
"I don't want to play that game," he said.
Campbell said he would back a broader search if there was more time before the next election.
The board hopes to interview candidates for the post next week and have the office filled shortly after Borgen steps down.
Borgen's chief assistants -Ken Kohler for criminal cases and Michelle Winkis for civil cases - will be the favorites.
Winkis, who attends board meetings to give legal advice, sat mostly quiet while the commissioners discussed the selection process. She said she is interested in the position.
"I kind of feel like the mouse sitting in the corner," she said.
Winkis said she would not have objected to the broader search.
Kohler was in trial during the day and could not be reached for comment, but he told County Administrator Vijay Sethi that he could duck out of court during the board's morning meeting if the commissioners needed to speak to him.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535