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Beltrami County commissioners unanimously pick administrator

By Molly Miron

BEMIDJI – After a brief meeting and discussion, Bemidji County commissioners agreed Wednesday morning to offer the county administrator’s job to Kay Mack, currently Beltrami County auditor-treasurer.

“I’ve been the interim administrator for six months, so it’s given me the opportunity to enter this position with my eyes open,” Mack said.

Former Beltrami County Administrator Tony Murphy, who served in that position for a decade, resigned in March.

The county commissioners voted unanimously to choose Mack over two other short list candidates: Larry Kruse, the former Albertville, Minn., administrator, and Thomas Johnson, public works director for Eagle County, Colo.

Mack, coming off a 23-hour election day Tuesday, said she started working for Beltrami County 35 years ago as deputy treasurer. She then ran and was elected treasurer before winning the treasurer-auditor post when the county combined the two positions. She said she has run for office unopposed since 1986.

Mack said she will work closely with whomever commissioners appoint to fill the two years remaining in her current auditor-treasurer term. Then the position will be up for election in the regular cycle.

The commissioners noted that the selection committee did well in finding candidates for administrator.

“I think we’ve had lots of good input all the way through,” said Commissioner Quentin Fairbanks.

“All of the candidates were excellent,” said Commissioner Joe Vene.

Commissioner Jack Frost remarked that Mack answered their interview questions articulately. He emphasized the necessity for teamwork for the benefit of Beltrami County.

Commissioner Richard Anderson said he was looking for someone who would work well with the board, and said Mack showed that kind of willingness. “We’ve seen her in action for many years,” he said.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick referenced a column he wrote last month for the Bemidji Pioneer. In the opinion piece, he reminded readers that the Bemidji area has plenty of qualified professionals without seeking people from out of town. Lucachick and Vene will work with County Attorney Tim Faver to develop a contract for Mack.