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Commissioners Offer Attorney Job To Diekhans

Split Decision:

After a short meeting that included discussion and accusations, Roosevelt County commissioners voted by a 2-1 margin to offer the county attorney position to Theresa Diekhans of Fergus County on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

She accepted the position later in the week and anticipates a start date in Roosevelt County of Feb. 20. An election will take place in 2024 to elect a county attorney.

Commissioner Robert Toavs made the motion to appoint Diekhans based on the ruling by Judge Michael G. Moses that a fulltime county attorney could be appointed to replace current county attorney Janet Christoffersen.

Toavs said commissioners found an applicant who was well rounded and could provide stability. He feels Diekhans is a good option, and it’s a chance for the office to move forward.

Commissioner Gary Macdonald seconded the motion, but he said the problem he has is that deputy county attorney Thomas Bleicher was cut off before asking all the questions he wanted during the interview process. Commissioner Gordon Oelkers reminded the public that the appointment will be only until the next election which is “right around the corner.”

Speaking through Zoom, Christoffersen said proper public notice wasn’t given for the interview meeting and that no Zoom link was provided for that meeting.

Christoffersen said she is considering filing to run for the county attorney position and added that she believes Bleicher is also considering filing. Bleicher replied that he picked up the paperwork that morning to file for the election.

Bleicher said he realizes that it’s the commissioners’ decision, but he feels it’s professional courtesy for him to be allowed to ask more questions of the potential new county attorney before he was stopped.

Toavs said that the reason why he cut off Bleicher’s questions was that he wanted to stop a “sabotage” of the interview.

Christoffersen said if there was any sabotage going on it was not coming from the county attorney’s office, but rather the commissioners’ office.

Bleicher thanked Toavs for saying for the record why he was shut down.

After deputy clerk of district court Laurie Evans remarked that she doesn’t believe Bleicher was cut off, Macdonald replied, “I happen to think so.”

Christoffersen said she feels that it makes sense for an attorney to ask questions during the interview portion for the position.

“For once, I agree with you,” Macdonald said. Toavs replied, “How did that work out last time, Gary?”

Resident Bill Juve asked if commissioners performed background checks and references. Oelkers answered, “as much as we can.”

The motion to offer the position to Diekhans was approved by a 2-1 vote. After Toavs voted in favor, Oelkers paused but then also voted in favor.

“We went from the frying pan to the fire,” Macdonald said.

Immediately after the meeting, Toavs said to Macdonald, “Gary, you said you had one year left and weren’t going to have an opinion on it.”

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