Blaine County commissioner to be selected Sept. 7
Blaine County Democrats have until Sept. 7 to pick three candidates to take the place of a highly popular county commissioner who died Friday in the middle of his campaign, running unopposed, for his third term in the office.
Former Harlem mayor and commissioner Vic Miller died from complications of diabetes.
Greg Jergeson of Chinook, a Democratic candidate for the state Senate who is heading up the process of selecting Democratic committee members to pick nominees as Miller's replacement, said he is uncomfortable starting the process even before the commissioner's funeral, but there are deadlines on the calendar that have to be met.
"We're sitting here in this huge sense of shock and loss at Vic's passing, " Jergeson said, adding that although people knew Miller had been struggling with his health, he doubted that anyone had considered being asked to replace him on the county commission.
Blaine County Commissioner Frank DePriest said Tuesday that the Blaine County Democrats will select a slate of three candidates and the commission will appoint Miller's replacement Sept. 7. The next step in the process is up to the Democratic Central Committee.
"It's in their hands, not ours, as of yet, " DePriest said.
Once the three nominees are submitted, DePriest, a Republican, and Democratic Blaine County Commissioner Dolores Plumage will appoint the new commissioner.
By the same date, the Democrats must select a candidate to take Miller's place in the November general election.
Democratic Party state chair Jim Elliott appointed Jergeson the temporary chair of the Blaine County Democratic Central Committee, which had been defunct, and Blaine County Clerk of Court Kay O'Brien Johnson temporary secretary treasurer of the committee so they could begin finding a replacement. Jergeson said he and Johnson are appointing precinct committee chairmen and chairwomen.
The committee will meet Sept. 6 at 6 p. m. in Harlem City Hall to select a permanent slate of top officers and proceed with selecting a list of three commissioner nominees, and the person to take Miller's place as candidate in the election.
Jergeson said they are running advertisements and legal notices asking people who live in Miller's commissioner district, District 3 — comprising northern Blaine county mostly north of U. S. Highway 2 from the Hill County to the Phillips County borders, including Harlem, Hogeland and Turner — to submit a letter of intent, a brief resume and a statement of goals as well as proof of their residency in the district.
Those are due in the Blaine County Clerk and Recorder's Office by 5 p. m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, Jergeson said.
During the Sept. 6 meeting, former Blaine County commissioners Art Kleinjan and Keith Benson will ask a list of questions to the people who have applied, and then the committee will pick the nominees for commissioner and select the candidate for the election.
Jergeson said he expects the candidate to be one of the nominees for commissioner, likely the top selection of the committee, but the selection is not up to the Democratic committee.
"The Central Committee cannot dictate to the two remaining commissioners who it is from that list of three that they would have to name, " Jergeson said, adding that he is hoping the interview and selection process is open and transparent enough that the commissioners would be able to see who the top selection is and would find that nominee appealing and capable to take the position.
He said a number of factors have made time a major issue in the selection. The candidate's name has to be on ballots sent to military voters by Sept. 21
"There's a lot of reason to have this on kind of a hurry-up schedule and yet give still give time for people, as busy as they are with harvest and their jobs and their family work, to consider the possibility of taking on this responsibility of being a Blaine County commissioner, " Jergeson said. "And so, we really had to kind of start on it right away, and that's too bad, but that's what the calendar dictates. "