Filling a Vacant County Commission Seat – It’s Complicated

The decision to determine who will fill the vacancy on the Campbell County Board of Commissioners has been pushed to December, amid accusations of corruption and unethical behavior reportedly demonstrated by the County Republican Party Central Committee.

The position became vacant after the unexpected resignation of Clark Kissack last month.

Originally, the commissioners had indicated they planned to choose a suitable replacement during their regular meeting this morning; their choices had been narrowed down to Troy McKeown, Jeff Raney, and Elgin Faber, the three candidates put forth by the Party late last week, chosen from a total of 19 applicants.

Following an announcement yesterday, Nov. 19, the commissioners chose to push the final interviews and selection to Dec. 4, citing a lack of submitted documentation that supports the Party’s choices.

Commission Chairman Mark Christensen said the absence of documentation does not line up with how the Party has behaved in the past, such as when the commissioners filled the seat for representative that was left vacant after the passing of former Rep. Sue Wallis.

“At that time, the party sent us not only the names, but also the applications, question answers, and a number of other things to help us make a decision,” Christensen said in a statement. “In this instance, the board only received a letter from the party with the three names. There wasn’t even contact information for the selected individuals.”

Receiving the documentation would make it possible for the commissioners to develop a series of appropriate questions to ask each candidates, before making a decision, Christensen continued.

This time, only a notably vague letter accompanied the announcement of the three names. It contained a simple statement saying the Party had fulfilled all statutory requirements and had selected three individuals “qualified to fill the vacancy in the office of County Commissioner.”

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Deputy County Attorney Carol Seeger sent the Party a letter yesterday, officially requesting the Party provide a record of the initial vote that was used to reduce the number of candidates from 19 to six, and the final vote that further reduced it from six to three.

Additionally, the letter requests the Party send the applications, letters expressing interest, and resumes that should have been submitted by all 19 applicants. The Party is also requested to turn over any communications or information the central committee may have changed, received, or considered when making its determination.

“Receipt of the information will be useful and [will] provide a starting point in considering the qualifications of each candidate and help facilitate the interview process to be conducted by the [commissioners],” the letter reads.

The letter requested all documentation be turned over by Nov. 26.

The Party’s voting actions on Nov. 15, however, have been called into question by Del Shelstad, current chairman of the Joint Powers Fire Board and one of the original 19 potential candidates the Party was to consider.

“It was obvious to me that the selection had already happened before the meeting ever started,” Shelstad told the commissioners this morning.

He claimed that the Party’s actions were unethical, corrupt, and were “back door politics at its worst.”

Shelstad’s public comments closely resemble an email he sent to the commissioners last week, after the three candidates were chosen.

In the email, Shelstad formally requested the commissioners thoroughly examine correspondence between precinct members to determine if the decision had, in fact, been made prior to the Party meeting.

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Doug Camblin, a precinct person who spoke out in a public comment against the Party’s method of choosing the final three candidates, says he stands by his comment.

Camblin alleges that the Party did not adequately question the candidates regarding County issues, such as the tax structure or the duties and responsibilities of a commissioner.

In a nutshell, Camblin does not believe the three final candidates are qualified, which is in direct contradiction of what was stated in the letter to the commissioners sent by the Party.

“The seat would be best filled by somebody with experience that can hit the ground running,” Camblin said this morning.

Campbell County Republican Chairwoman Vicki Kissack declined to comment.

 

Outliers Creative, LLC, the publisher of County 17, is owned by The MC Family of Companies, LLC, a company owned by Commissioner Mark Christensen.