Response from Ramsey County Board of Commissioners

January 4, 2018

Saint Paul STRONG Steering Committee:

Thank you for your letter of January 3 and your ongoing efforts to promote open and
transparent processes in local government. Please know that this is a goal we commonly
share and aspire to.

When Sheriff Bostrom announced his retirement on December 6,2016, the board
reviewed several potential courses of action to fill the partial term for the remaining two
years. We consulted with our County Attorney's Office and reviewed the County Charter.
We studied what other Minnesota counties have done when faced with the situation of
replacing a Sheriff - an elected official who also leads a large and critical operational
department. We held two open meetings (Dec. 13 and20,2016) where residents could
learn the law and recent history relevant to this situation right along with us and then
witness the board's deliberations as they happened. We consulted with the suburban
communities that contract directly with the Sheriff s Office for law enforcement services
as well as other community stakeholders. Residents and stakeholders were invited to
share their thoughts with commissioners throughout the process, which included an
interview of Chief Deputy Jack Serier in a public session on January 3,2017 and
concluded with his public appointment as Sheriff and swearing in on January 10.

The entirety of this process led us to the conclusion that sustaining the strong work,
reputation and relationships that our communities, county organization and board came to
value and trust during six years of the Ramsey County Sherifls Office under the
leadership of Sheriff Bostrom and his command staff was paramount. Without an option
to call a special election in2017, but secure in the knowledge that the voters of Ramsey
County have the responsibility of determining who is Sheriff through General Election on
November 6,2018, our board unanimously voted to appoint the Sheriff s Second-in-
Command for the remainder of the term. This decision we arrived at is the same as 1l of
12 other Minnesota counties in recent history. We disagree with the suggestion that Jack
Serier or any person who would have received this two-year appointment would have a
'leg-up' that was in any way greater than the will of Ramsey County voters on Election
Day.

We acknowledge and respect that members of Saint Paul STRONG and members of our
communities may disagree with the process and/or the result the Ramsey County Board
chose. However, we contest the criticism that our process of appointing a Sheriff under
these circumstances was not sufhciently transparent. I reached out to, heard from and had
good, substantive conversations with several residents and stakeholders (including
members of Saint Paul STRONG) as did other commissioners. We commturicated
invitation to our public meetings and encouraged people to contact us. The process was
covered well by local news media at each step. Although you may disagree with the
outcome, the board sought these opportunities for feedback and received significant and
valuable input.

Prior to the public interview, Jack Serier confirmed to the board in writing that he met the
legal requirements to be appointed Sheriff which include residing in Ramsey County.
What statutorily constitutes residency is not a determination for a county board to make.
The question was answered to the board's satisfaction at the time and remains so, and we
will not be investigating the matter.

As to your request to clearly state how the public can have input into commissioners'
decision-making processes: Please connect with us. Ramsey County Commissioners
welcome engagement with our constituents on any topic - whether at a public meeting,
in-person one-on-one, via phone, email - whatever is most convenient. All board
meetings are live-streamed.in real-time and video archived at www.ramseycounty.us.
Agendas of our meetings and workshops for the upcoming week are also posted online
Thursdays, and one can also subscribe to receive these notices each week via email.

As Board Chair, I appreciate and will consider your suggestion to conduct an internal
evaluation with the goal of making our decision-making process more transparent. I look
forward to continue meeting with members of Saint Paul STRONG, and I am more than
happy to engage with your full advisory board as you may like. Please contact me
anytime via email or at65l-266-8365.


Thank you again for sharing your concems and your ongoing commitment to
transparency in government.


Sincerely,

Jim McDonough, Chair
Ramsey County Commissioner
District 6