MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning heard about their options about filling the soon-to-be vacant County Auditor’s position. Ken Kline announced on Monday that he’s accepted the position of Deputy Commissioner of Elections at the Secretary of State’s office in Des Moines starting January 22nd.
Kline told the supervisors today that they can either appoint someone to fill the position until this November’s general election, or call for a special election to be held as soon as legally possible. Kline says the supervisors can’t officially act on how they’ll fill the position until he has formally left his position with the county. He says they couldn’t call for a special election or appoint until he’s no longer with the county. “The only thing you could do, for example today, to decide if you’re going to appoint, so let’s go ahead to post that notice and get the ball rolling.”
If the supervisors decided to appoint someone, they have to publish legal notices so the public would have the opportunity to file a petition for an election to be held. Supervisor Chris Watts asked if that process of approving legal notices could start now if the supervisors decided to go the route of appointment. Kline says the board could have taken that step, but it did not obligate the board to appoint someone.
When asked how much it would cost to hold a special election for the position, Kline says it would be costly compared to other special elections. He says a county special election has not been held in a while, and likely would cost around $30-thousand. “We cannot use vote centers realistically, legally we can, but administratively, it’s just not going to work using vote centers.”
Board chair Casey Callanan says with Kline’s announcement happening on Monday, he felt the board should wait until next week to decide on publishing any legal notices about filling the position. He says there’s still a lot to process in filling a big position with the county. “You’ve done a great job for the taxpayers of Cerro Gordo County. Paul Pate hit it on the head on being well respected around the state. In lieu of that, regardless if we’re going to take action on posting it or not, I’d like to let it simmer for at least a week…I haven’t made a decision, and we’ve got a lot to take in.”
Kline has spent a quarter century serving as the County Auditor. Under Iowa Code, County Treasurer Patricia Wright would take possession of the office until a new County Auditor is chosen.