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  • Last modified 204 days ago (Jan. 26, 2017)

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Who will follow Lori Lalouette?

Staff writer

Commissioner Lori Lalouette submitted her resignation from office Monday, effective March 20.

Lalouette has been embattled for weeks. Fellow commissioners called for her resignation early this month because of her absences from commission meetings, and then the next blow was a committee forming to seek a recall election.

Facing recall committee members at the following meeting, Lalouette said she wanted time to consult with friends and family, but would have a decision by this week.

On Monday, she made it official.

“I want to make it clear that my decision to resign was made on my own accord, based on what was best for myself personally and professionally and what I felt was best for my district and county,” Lalouette said. “It was not prompted due to pressure of a recall or the whisper or smear campaigns and other negative propaganda that was circulated against me.”

As Lalouette is a Republican, state law calls for the county’s Republican party chairman to convene precinct committee men and women to nominate someone to fill Lalouette’s empty chair. That person must be appointed by the governor or lieutenant governor.

County Republican Chairman Todd Heitschmidt said he will begin the process of calling a convention after he gets official notification of Lalouette’s resignation from county clerk Tina Spencer.

Knowing the possibility of Lalouette’s resignation was looming, Heitschmidt said he has spent days recruiting precinct committee members because only one position was filled earlier.

Now, 17 of 18 positions are filled.

“I as county chairman worked my tail off to fill those vacancies,” Heitschmidt said.

So far, no one has called him directly to express interest in serving on the commission, Heitschmidt said.

“The process will take care of that,” he said. “Anyone who is interested can come to our convention. Convention members can nominate them.”

Spencer said Lalouette must submit her resignation to the governor.

“Once that occurs, their office will set the wheels in motion,” Spencer said.

Heitschmidt said the precinct committee members to select a new commissioner will be Clinton Seibel, Delores Dalke, Lauren Wiebe, Jessie Wiebe, Richard Tippin, Norma Tippin, Roger Fleming, Cynthia Fleming, Linden Thiessen, and CleoBeth Friesen, all of Hillsboro; Warren Unruh, Tampa; Gordon Christiansen, Patricia Christiansen, Wayne Geis and Debra Geis, all of Durham; and Ronald Duerksen and Francine Duerksen of Lehigh.

At Monday’s meeting, Lalouette showed three large notebooks of information and plans she’s compiled in the last six months to demonstrate how she has worked outside meetings to benefit the her district.

She said the county faces many issues and everyone needs to work together.

“I have decided that I must focus on the good of my constituents and the citizens of Marion County. My time availability and strengths at this time are better suited for other positions and areas serving the county than they are as commissioner at this time,” her resignation letter said.

Two members of the recall committee, Galen Penner and Kevin Suderman, were present at Monday’s meeting.

“Lori, I can understand this is a hard decision for you,” Suderman said. “I do understand that when you ran you had the best intentions.”

Penner said he feels relieved.

“We need to find someone who is interested in the job and will show up and will be accessible to the public,” Penner said.

Lalouette said she had too much on her plate to be as effective as she would have liked to be.

“I have had competing priorities and illness which have caused me to miss meetings, and while I have a lot of ideas and plans for the county, I have to recognize that I have been burning the candle at both ends,” Lalouette said.

Last modified Jan. 26, 2017

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