Freeborn County auditor-treasurer to retire

Published 9:35 am Monday, November 12, 2012

Longtime Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer Dennis Distad announced last week he will retire at the end of the year.

Distad, 65, has worked for Freeborn County for 41 years, filling the role of auditor-treasurer for the last 30.

“When you sit down and start thinking about it, it’s about half of your life,” the Albert Lea native said.

Dennis Distad

Email newsletter signup

Fulfilling myriad responsibilities, Distad may be most known for his role in collecting taxes and assessments and in overseeing elections. But he has also overseen the county’s finances, investments, disbursement of checks, tax calculations and the license center, among other responsibilities.

“I feel I can speak for the entire Auditor-Treasurer’s Office when saying Dennis’ hard work and leadership will be greatly missed by all of us,” said Chief Deputy Auditor-Treasurer Pat Martinson. “We all wish him the best.”

When Distad first started within Freeborn County, he started as a deputy auditor, he said. At that time, the auditor and treasurer’s offices were not combined.

In 1981, the offices combined, and in 1985 with the early retirement of former Auditor-Treasurer Bill Brown, Distad was appointed to fill out the remainder of Brown’s elected term.

In 1986, he ran for the seat and was re-elected. He said he had competition that first year and only once more after that; otherwise, he has ran unopposed the remaining terms.

Distad said when he first started officials had to hand count all of the ballots in an election. Then the county switched to punch cards and then it went to a machine count.

He has confidence in the current system and calls it the best in his tenure.

“You have a paper ballot and then you have a machine that is very, very accurate,” Distad said, noting the chances for fraud with the system are low.

He said he has been proud to be a part of a successful election system over the years, and he has also enjoyed meeting Freeborn County residents and redetermining the benefits on all of the county’s ditches.

He is appreciative of the staff he has had over the years and hopes he has made his family proud.

“I hope I’ve earned the trust of the constituents of Freeborn County,” Distad said.

Though it has not yet been determined what he will do when he retires, he said there is a possibility he will apply to be the ditch inspector for the county upon the retirement of Phil Tennis. He would work on an as-needed basis.

“We have a great system of ditches in Freeborn County, and we have to keep them that way.”

He is also looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren.

“His years of dedicated service to the residents of Freeborn County are greatly appreciated, and as a co-worker with the county, he will be truly missed come Jan. 1, 2013,” said Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever.

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will consider an appointment to the position at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Distad said he is recommending Martinson to fill the term.