Westrom is finalist for Stevens County attorney positionMinnesota House District 11A Representative Torrey Westrom is among four finalists to succeed Charles Glasrud as Stevens County attorney.
By: Tom Larson, Morris Sun Tribune, Alexandria Echo Press
Minnesota House District 11A Representative Torrey Westrom is among four finalists to succeed Charles Glasrud as Stevens County attorney.
In May, Glasrud was appointed to fill the 8th Judicial District vacancy left when Peter A. Hoff retired in January. The Stevens County Board began interviewing the candidates on June 27.
In addition to his legislative position, Westrom, of Elbow Lake, owns and operates Westrom Law Office, PLLC and TSI Real Estate, LLC in Elbow Lake.
Also in the list of finalists is Lars B. Markeson, of Alexandria, who is currently the judicial law clerk for Judge Jon Stafsholt in the Eighth Judicial District.
Other finalists are Jeanine R. Brand, of Bagley, who is currently serving as assistant Clay County attorney; and Aaron K. Jordan, of Pequot Lakes, who is currently the assistant county attorney in Cass County.
After Monday’s interviews, it appeared that the list of attorney candidates was pared to two – Westrom and Jordan. It also became clear that before the board can choose Glasrud’s replacement, it will have to decide how it wants the elected office to operate.
A panel of five county commissioners and five county officials interviewed the finalists. The county officials voted and Jordan was the top candidate of all five, and Westrom was the No. 2 choice of three of the five.
But the voters stated they didn’t factor budgets presented by the candidates into their decision. That, and how Jordan and Westrom differ in how they propose to run the office, led to much discussion.
Glasrud is a part-time county attorney who operated a private law firm with his wife, Deb Economou, who also is assistant county attorney.
Westrom, who has a private practice, wants to continue in that vein. Westrom, an eight-term Minnesota House Republican representative, said he would resign from the Legislature if appointed to the county attorney office.
Jordan said he does not intend to operate a private practice.
When parsed out, the candidates’ proposed budgets were not far apart in terms of dollars, but Jordan proposed that he and an assistant attorney be full-time and that a paralegal/secretary also be full-time. Westrom proposed operating with a part-time staff that would also work in his private legal practice.
The panel said Jordan’s proposal would make attorneys more accessible to county staff. Westrom also admitted he had little criminal law experience – which is a significant part of a county attorney’s workload – while Jordan said his job now is focused primarily on prosecution and that he has brought 20 to 25 jury trials to verdict.
County officials will contact cities in the county – the city of Morris in particular – to determine if they want to contract with the county attorney for legal services. Westrom’s proposal to also operate a private legal practice would mean he would maintain a separate office. Jordan and his staff likely would be housed in the courthouse.
The county board will discuss the issues further at its July 5 meeting.
The Morris Sun Tribune and the Echo Press are Forum Communications Company newspapers.