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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Counselor clarifies ability of administrator to sit on board

Updated: Sep 7, 2023


MOUND CITY – In response to Commissioner Jim Johnson’s inquiry from the previous week about whether Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower could be a member on the Southeastern Technical Academy for Rural Students (STARS) board, County Counselor Gary Thompson wrote an opinion to the commissioners.


On Monday, August 14, he read the following opinion to the Linn County Commissioners:


“Commissioners:

I have been asked whether, in my opinion, it is a conflict of interest for the County’s Director of Economic Development (DED) to serve on the STARS Board of Directors, in view of the fact that the County provides some funding for STARS. These are my thoughts:

  1. The DED has no decision-making authority with the County and did not make the decision to fund STARS; nor will she be in a position to make such a decision in the future.

  2. The Board of Directors position is not a paid position and the DED is in no way benefitting financially by being on the board.

  3. STARS is not a government entity. It is the recipient of government grants, including grants from School Districts and Linn County. Since STARS is a private organization, membership on its Board does not create an incompatibility of office situation for the DED.

  4. It is in the interest of the County and its taxpayers to have some input, communication and oversight with the STARS Board. Having a representative appointed by or representing the County is a valid method of accomplishing that. It is what we do with MANY of the boards and organizations we support – Tri-Ko, SEKMHC, Area Council on Aging, Lake Region, etc.

“Based on these thoughts, it is my opinion that there is no conflict of interest in the DED being a member of the STARS Board. If the Board of Commissioners wants me to write to the Attorney General for an opinion, I will do so.”


The commissioners did not ask Thompson to write to the Attorney General for an opinion.

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