Freeborn County’s chief deputy auditor-treasurer appointed county recorder

Published 12:54 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The chief deputy auditor-treasurer in Freeborn County will be the county’s new recorder, the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday. 

Kelly Hendrickson was the unanimous choice of the panel who interviewed the candidates for the position and meets all the qualifications for the job, said County Administrator Tom Jensen. 

The commissioners voted 3-2 for the appointment, with 1st District Commissioner Brad Edwin and 2nd District Commissioner Dan Belshan voting against. They said they voted against the appointment, not because of Hendrickson but because of the process the county went through to find the replacement. 

Hendrickson replaces former Freeborn County Recorder Kelly Callahan, who retired at the end of April. 

The position for many years had been an elected position but more recently became appointed.

Belshan said he did not like that only two commissioners were able to participate in the interview process, along with the recorders from Steele and Mower counties. He said he tried to sit in on the interviews but was told it would violate open meeting laws. The interviews should have instead have been posted so all of the commissioners could have participated.

He said he thinks the position should be given back to the people to decide. 

“It’s just creeping away and taking the power away from the public,” Belshan said. 

Fifth District Commissioner Ted Herman said he thought it was helpful to have the expertise of others in the position during the interview so the commissioners knew what the job entailed. 

“I thought it was quite smart of the administration to have someone sit in with us,” Herman said. 

Third District Commissioner John Forman said since the position is no longer an elected position, administration followed essentially a similar process as it would for hiring other department heads. 

“We don’t need to micromanage our personnel people,” Forman said. “I think the process worked well.” 

He said the county got three good candidates, with Hendrickson being the best of the three. 

Edwin said while his comments did not reflect on Hendrickson or her abilities, he thought the process was flawed. 

He said the hiring process should have started months ago when Callahan announced his intent to retire but claimed administration waited until one week before his retirement to begin advertising for the position. 

He also took issue with only two commissioners being able to be a part of the interviews, when all board members don’t always approach and see things the same way. 

Edwin said he wanted clarified if the position was salaried or hourly and he wanted something in the contract that stated expectations. 

Hendrickson’s contract will be in place through the end of 2023, at which time the board will be asked to renew the contract.

Hendrickson, who has worked in the auditor’s office since January 2018, was appointed chief deputy auditor-treasurer July 2, 2019. 

She said she was interested in the recorder position having worked in the legal field for 30 years prior to working for Freeborn County. A large part of that work was in all areas of real estate, and she said she was fortunate to have a wonderful real estate teacher in attorney Doug Peterson and is thankful for all he taught her over the years. 

“When the position became available, it seemed like a great fit for me,” she said. “I also feel that knowing the ins and outs of the auditor’s office will be an asset to the recorder’s office.” 

She said the recorder’s office has a great team and she looks forward to working with them. 

“I am very excited for the opportunity to serve the taxpayers of Freeborn County as the county recorder,” Hendrickson said.