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Local

Supervisors vote to appoint for county attorney position

Jacobsen to start judgeship July 20

Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen updates the board of supervisors on his transition to Iowa district court judge Tuesday during the board’s weekly meeting. The supervisors made the decision to appoint Jacobsen’s replacement instead of holding a special election. The board could make an appointment as early as July 24.
Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen updates the board of supervisors on his transition to Iowa district court judge Tuesday during the board’s weekly meeting. The supervisors made the decision to appoint Jacobsen’s replacement instead of holding a special election. The board could make an appointment as early as July 24.

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors will appoint to fill the Jasper County Attorney’s seat by the end of July.

The supervisors voted 2-0 during the board’s weekly meeting Tuesday to appoint rather than hold a special election after current county attorney Mike Jacobsen takes his seat as district court judge in Iowa Judicial District 5A, Supervisor Doug Cupples was absent from the meeting.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in June she would be appointing Jacobsen to the district court bench to join six other judges covering Jasper, Marion, Warren, Madison, Dallas and Guthrie counties.

His last day as county attorney will be July 19, and when Jacobsen’s appointment process is complete, he will start his judgeship July 20.

Jacobsen said Tuesday he has provided a letter to the three supervisors, advising the board how to move forward in the appointment process to name his replacement. According to Iowa Code section 331.305, the board will be able to make an appointment by July 24 — after publicly posting the position.

The board’s other option was to call a special election to fill the position for the remainder of the term, but with the next election approaching quickly in November and the cost of a special election at nearly $15,000, according to Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott, both Jacobsen and Parrott advised the board to appoint to fill the vacancy.

Most of the cost of a special election comes from producing ballots, advertising and since the position is a countywide seat, opening all polling locations in Jasper County.

Jasper County residents, according to Iowa law, would need to collect more than 1,900 signatures to call for a special election by petition.

Jacobsen said the quickest a special election could be organized would be September, which is already approaching a deadline due to the proximity to November’s general election.

“There probably aren’t a lot of attorney’s suited to take (the position) in a special election,” Parrott said. “There might be someone who runs in the general election, I don’t know that, but it’s pretty quick notice for them.”

First Assistant Jasper County Attorney Scott Nicholson told the Newton Daily News Tuesday he does plan to put his hat in the ring for the appointment. Nicholson has tried several high-profile cases alongside Jacobsen, including the 2015 Copper Dollar Ranch murder trial.

Before the meeting adjourned Tuesday, Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty addressed the room, congratulating Jacobsen publicly and gave his appreciation of their professional relationship over the years. 

“He’s been a very close companion as both an assistant and then as county attorney,” Halferty said. “With the sheriff’s office we’ve had numerous major cases, homicide cases and robbery cases, as well as civil litigation and contract review, he is our go-to guy. We sure hate to lose him, but we think this is well deserved.”

Parrott also added his praise of Jacobsen, Tuesday. Parrott, who worked in the clerk of court’s office for nearly a decade, said Jacobsen will be “just right” for the bench.

“Mike is a calming influence on the people who need to make decisions,” Parrott said. “He has been excellent for the auditor’s office. Mike just has that temperament that you have trust in him, that he’s going to look at things equally and fairly. He doesn’t have a bias. He looks at the law and the situation and gives his best advice.”

Contact Mike Mendenhall at 515-480-3573 ext 6530 or at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com

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