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Assistant Cass County attorney expected to be appointed Stevens County attorney

A final decision is still pending in Stevens County's search for a new county attorney, but it appears likely one side is ready to offer the job and the other is ready to accept.

Following a meeting with Assistant Cass County Attorney Aaron Jordan on Friday, a county board committee is expected to endorse Jordan's appointment at the full board's July 19 meeting.

Jordan said Tuesday that no agreement is officially in place but that he was pleased with meeting.

""Everything looks very good," Jordan said. "I'm very optimistic we'll get something done."

Jordan would be appointed to fill out almost 3-1/2 years remaining for the elected office.

Former Stevens County Attorney Charles Glasrud was elected to a four-year term last fall but this spring was appointed as a 8th Judicial District Judge. He was sworn in July 8, the same day Jordan met with county Personnel Committee members Ron Staples and Phil Gausman and other officials with the county and the City of Morris.

On Tuesday, the Morris City Council approved a measure signaling its intent to negotiate a with the county for Jordan to provide services. Glasrud also was the Morris City Attorney. The council stated that it wants to pay about $35,000 per year.

Big Stone County Attorney William Watson is handling Stevens County's legal work on an interim basis. Deb Economou, the current Assistant County Attorney and Glasrud's wife and former law partner, is still on the job. But she informed the county soon after Glasrud's appointment to the bench that she would not seek appointment to the County Attorney's Office.

Economou will continue working as Assistant City Attorney until the city reaches agreement with Glasrud's successor, and the council also approved having Watson provide additional services, if needed, in the interim.

Jordan and Minnesota District 11A House Rep. Torrey Westrom were the consensus front-runners for the position after interviews with four candidates two week ago.

Jordan's trial experience gave him an advantage over Westrom, but the board was initially concerned about how Jordan proposed staffing the office and his budget projections.

That led to Friday's meeting and Jordan submitted a new budget proposal and the sides reached agreement on office space, equipment and other considerations, said County Coordinator Brian Giese.

After hashing out the details, it appears Jordan's budget proposal of $185,000 for 2012 will be less than Glasrud's 2011 budget of $195,000.

"Once we dug into it, we figured out what would be needed and I think we would be operating at a slightly lower (budget)," Jordan said.

Appointing Jordan would make county law enforcement happy and Cass County officials sad.

At it's last meeting, the county board heard ringing endorsements for Jordan from Stevens County Sheriff Randy Willis, who was a member of the 10-member interview panel.

Willis said his views were based on skill level, not personal attributes, and he was adamant that Jordan was the best candidate.

"I don't see how you could reasonably consider anyone but Aaron Jordan," Willis said. "He's so far superior in experience and the attributes he would bring to the office, it's sort of a no-brainer."

Westrom would need 10 years experience to get to where Jordan is now, he said.

"I don't know if (the county) can afford to be the place where he gets that experience," Willis said.

During discussions following the initial candidate interviews, Willis said he spoke to people in various positions who had worked with Jordan and all said he would be missed, professionally and personally, if he moved on to Stevens County.

Morris City Manager Blaine Hill was not involved in the interviews and didn't speak about the individual candidates, but he did stress that prosecutorial experience was the top priority for the city.

"You need somebody who knows prosecution," Hill said. "You really do. This isn't a training ground for prosecution."

Jordan, his wife of 12 years, Esther, and children Sam, 7, and Anna, 5, spent Saturday in Morris attending Prairie Pioneer Days events.

He said the family enjoyed the town and their experiences.

Jordan is a North Dakota native who also lived in the Dassel and Cokato area. He is a 1998 graduate of Park University, in Missouri, and earned his law degree at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran.

Jordan was a Judicial Law Clerk for Judge Paul Nelson in Chippewa County from 2001 to 2004, and had a private law practice and was an Assistant Public Defender for the 8th Judicial District in Kandiyohi County from 2004 to 2008. He joined the Cass County Attorney's Office in 2008, working primarily on prosecutions.