“Can a county employee also serve on the county board of commissioners?”
Clark County is now facing that question, after Douglas Loomis won election to the county’s commission in November and took a seat in January.
Loomis is an employee of the county, a highway motor grader three employee, and because of this conflict he has not been allowed to vote on any motion concerning county roads or the funding of county transportation.
There are five districts represented on the Clark County Board of Commissioners. District 2 represents the town of Bradley and Garden City and the townships of Blaine, Cottonwood, Spring Valley, Warren, Ash, Woodland, Garfield, Elrod, Thorp, Maydell and Eden.
Generally speaking, as he is not allowed to vote on road issues, his constituents would like representation and the parties not in power in this district, such as opposition to Loomis, feel this district needs representation in this area.
The Courier contacted Clark County State’s Attorney Chad Fjelland to obtain his position on the matter.
Fjelland indicated, “This clearly has the appearance of a direct conflict of interest. This clearly will present many actual voting conflicts of interest; however, after research and consultation with state officials, it appears that there is no statute that directly prohibits an at-will county employee from serving on a County Commission. State law does prohibit any county, municipal, or school official from discussing or voting on any matter where the official decides that a conflict exists. Absent the official voluntarily declaring the conflict, state law mandates that the official remove himself from discussion and voting on an issue in which the official has a direct pecuniary interest or if two-thirds of the governing body votes that an official has an identifiable conflict of interest.”
Fjelland concluded, “Obviously, this is a difficult and unique situation. On one side of the coin, an elected official should do everything he can to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. On the other side, you have an individual elected by the people of his district to serve – and they want him to do that fully.”