BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – In a split vote this morning, Fort Madison attorney Ross Braden was appointed the new county attorney effective this afternoon.
At the regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, the supervisors voted 3-2 to appoint Braden. Chairman Rick Larkin, and supervisors Ron Fedler and Don Hunold voted for Braden, while supervisors Matt Pflug and Gary Folluo voted against the motion offered by Fedler. The appointment will be through 2018. The position will be subjected to a primary in June of 2018 and the general election in that fall.
“I am planning on being sworn in this afternoon,” Braden said when contacted this morning. “And I plan on getting going from day one. I’m very excited, thrilled, and honored to be in this position and to serve the people of Lee County.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do today. I’m just beginning the process of withdrawing from court cases, transitioning out of custody cases and family issues.”
Folluo and Pflug were vocal in support of current assistant attorney Clinton Boddicker.
“I think, first off all, that Clinton would play in a much better role, he’s been around it for nine or 1o years and he’s already takin’ on the additional load when Mike left. I don’t think this is the time for a learning curve. I think he is ready to step in and do that job. He already is doing that job so he took on Mike’s caseload as he walked out the door. Again, I think that should be noted.”
Fedler said his review of the interviews that were conducted last week made the decision very tough.
“I went through all my notes after all the interviews and it was very close…very close between Clinton and Ross, but I just found myself leaning more toward Ross and Clinton would hopefully still be there in the office.”
“I think it’s important for the taxpayers, Lee County residents, that we have a seamless transition with the retiring county attorney. And we do have a letter of recommendation for Clinton from our retiring attorney and others in the area recommending Clinton,” Folluo said.
Pflug said when the board has to appoint an elected position it should be seamless, especially with what’s in front of the office.
“As a board we don’t need…if I can use the word, headaches, we need somebody in there who knows how to run it. This isn’t a time when we need a learning curve. All three were very good candidates and interviewed very well. With that spot coming up for election next year I think it’s best to put Clinton in that spot and then anyone can run for the office in the election,” Pflug said.
Supervisor Hunold said change isn’t always a bad thing and he was looking for some more efficiencies in the office.
“I heard everyone of them say they could get on board very fast. This is going to be one of the toughest decisions we will make,” Hunold said. “I do see that sometimes we’re too close to the work and for a change to happen someone new comes in and says ‘Why do we do it this way’. I’m looking for more efficiencies, I’m not a court guy, like I said this is one of the toughest decision I’ve had to make. But I feel sometimes a change isn’t a bad thing.”
Chairman Larkin said there would be people to help Braden with the transition.
“This is a tough decision, but as far as a seamless transition we do have assistants in the department who can help whomever is appointed to make this as seamless as possible. So someone new is chosen, there are some people who can help him out until he gets his feet on the ground.” Larkin said.
Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said his department will work with whomever the supervisors appoint.
“We’ll work with whomever the board appoints,” Weber said. “We hope the assistants will support the county and we’ll do our part. We should all work together. No matter who they would’ve put there, we’ll work with that person.”
Boddicker, who was in attendance said he will look at options. But said he would be running in 2018.
“I’m very disappointed. I’m thinking of asking for a special election,” Boddicker said.