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Commissioner stands against watershed reappointments

A Washington County Commissioner this week opposed the reappointment of a pair of longtime watershed board members, saying their continued presence on the board was preventing others from serving on the water management council.

Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, who represents south Washington County in District 4, stood against returning Jack Lavold, of Cottage Grove, and Michael Madigan, of Woodbury, to the South Washington County Watershed District for another three-year term. Lavold has served on the board for more than a decade.

Lavold, an active local volunteer, has campaigned for and been a long time supporter of Myra Peterson, the former Washington County Commissioner whom Lehrke defeated for the District 4 seat in last fall's election.

Both Lavold and Madigan were recommended by their respective city councils and were reappointed Tuesday by a 3-1 vote.

"It's not to belittle the contributions of Jack and Mike," Lehrke said, but told commissioners repeated reappointments stand in the way of others becoming involved in the watershed board. The reappointments were set to be approved with no discussion along with more than a dozen other items deemed uncontroversial by the county board.

Commissioner Gary Kriesel took issue with Lehrke's attempt to block the reappointment of Lavold and Madigan, saying her actions were "the wrong path to take on the day of the appointment." The issue should have been discussed in a workshop, Kriesel said.

He also questioned the idea of throwing out two experienced watershed board members because of their length of service.

"Do you just throw someone out after 15, 17 years who's doing a good job?" Kriesel asked.