Wadena County recorder position will remain elected

At the public hearing on March 7, six constituents shared their concerns about changing the recorder position from elected to appointed. The constituents expressed wanting to vote, and for the recorder employee to live in Wadena County.

A series of green trees with the shape of Wadena County in blue.
Contributed / Wadena County

WADENA — After hours discussing a possible appointment process in county board meetings and public hearings, the Wadena County recorder position will remain elected.

At the public hearing on March 7, six constituents shared their concerns about changing the recorder position from elected to appointed. The constituents expressed wanting to vote, and for the recorder employee to live in Wadena County. Commissioners noted five phone calls received on the topic, though they hoped for more people at the meeting.

While sharing their thoughts and questions, constituents encouraged the election process for the available offices. The county’s elected positions are the attorney, auditor-treasurer, recorder and sheriff; and appointed positions are the assessor, coroner/medical examiner and engineer. Appointed employees do not have to live in the county.

“I feel that it’s our right to vote,” said Rosalie Miller. “If we keep taking our rights away, pretty soon everything’s going to be appointed.”

As one of his concerns, Roger Folkestad said he does not want the number of elected positions “eroded anymore.” Commissioner Jon Kangas noted the recorder position is not political.


Ralph Miller, who served as a previous county commissioner, said an election allows constituents to learn about candidates’ character and credentials. He added appointed employees haven’t always been successful in the county.

With people being able to vote, Curt Folkestad noted the importance of their impact at the local level. Commissioners said they respect people’s voting rights.

One constituent, Brian Roth, said he came to learn from the commissioners about why they were considering this. He added if they were going to change to an appointed process people should be able to vote on the change.

Commissioners highlighted how the appointment process could save money, though exactly how much wasn’t agreed on. The savings could come from salary changes like splitting the recorder duties between employees and combining department heads.

The board is always looking for ways to save money with a “tight” county budget and high taxes, as commissioners Murlyn Kreklau and Mike Weyer said. Commissioner Sheldon Monson noted department heads are also “very, very conscientious” about the budgets. County salaries impact budget increases the most.

“We’ve got 10 people (department heads), that’s a million dollars salary, they all do good jobs … and unless we reduce them and combine some things and actually take some steps to change the long-term, we’re going to be right here in 20 years,” Kreklau said. Commissioners appreciated his comments and agreed some changes in the county are necessary.

Another suggestion was combining offices and sharing employees. People could visit one window instead of three for the recorder, assessor and planning and zoning offices, as Kangas said. Stearns said the office (along with the auditor-treasurer department) would help save money and be efficient, though people are not complaining about the current process. Remodeling would be required for the office.

Ruth said coming up with a plan, even if it’s difficult, is why the commissioners were elected.


The list of proposed maintenance projects includes additional steel siding underneath the grandstand, rebuilding the dairy barn’s northwest wall and repairs for the beef barn. Other projects include permanent gates at the east and Hwy 10 entrances, new floor and repairs for the Home and Hobbies building, old log building repairs and a new roof for the church.

While constituents thanked commissioners for savings ideas, Curt said a possible savings of $25,000 was “almost insignificant” and the county should look for “bigger fish.”

Stearns said with people being killed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine making this decision would be “tough” since people in Ukraine want democracy and the right to vote.

After the discussion, the resolution dissolved after the commissioners decided not to make a motion. The motion would have needed four out of the five commissioners to vote yes, which likely would not have happened.

County recorder Soledad Henriksen will complete her term through Jan. 3, 2023. The filing date for elected county positions is May 17. The general election is on Nov. 8.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
What To Read Next
Get Local