By Bob Balgemann


Longtime Boone County board member Karl Johnson has been elected chairman of the board.

He replaces Bob Walberg, who retired after serving eight years on the board, all of them as chairman. The change in leadership, which also saw first-term board member Jeff Carlisle elected vice chairman, took place Monday, Dec. 5.

First order of business was for Circuit Judge Rob Tobin to administer the oath of office to six incumbents and newcomers, who were elected on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Board member Denny Ellingson, incumbent in District I, and former board member Marshall Newhouse, also in District I, were sworn in. So were longtime incumbent Cathy Ward and newcomer Dr. Bernard O’Malley in District II.

In District III, the newcomers included Carl Larson and appointee Jessica Muellner, who joined the board earlier this year following the unexpected death of Craig Schultz in office.

County Clerk Mary Steurer, took roll call and led the meeting due to the absence of a chairman. Board member Ray Larson was the only absentee.

No public comment occurred at the meeting. Then the board set out to elect a new chairman through roll call vote. Nominees included Johnson and first-term board member Sherry Giesecke.

Each made a brief statement.

Johnson, who is in the middle of his third term on the board, pointed to his experience, working under three chairs, Susan Anderson, Cathy Ward, and Bob Walberg. He said he learned from them and will add his own flavor to the office.

Board member Sherry Branson nominated first-term board member Sherry Giesecke for chairman.

Giesecke referred to a letter she sent to each of the board members, “about things I think we can work on. We have one heck of a county here and, what is the saying now, we ‘want to make Boone County great again.'”

Johnson won the vote 6-5.

He had support from Ellingson, himself, Larson, Newhouse, O’Malley, and Ward. Names were called in alphabetical order with Ward being last, and she cast the decisive vote in favor of Johnson.

Those opposing his candidacy were Branson, Carlisle, Giesecke, Muellner, and Brad Stark.

Ward nominated Carlisle for vice chairman, with Giesecke being nominated by Muellner. However, Giesecke declined to accept the nomination. No other names were offered, so Carlisle was selected in an 11-0 vote.

County Administrator Ken Terrinoni was asked if he had any informational items for the new board. He brought up the need for Chairman Johnson to make appointments to the seven standing committees of the board.

One of them, planning, zoning and building (PZB), was scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Dec. 7 and three of its five members were members of the old board. Johnson said he would deal with that immediately and, given the short turnaround time, urged board members to be near their phones.

He asked members to give him names of the committees on which they would like to serve. While he said he would try to honor their requests, he said that might not be possible in all cases.

“I will try to spread the talent around,” he said.

In addition to PZB, committees are finance, salaries and taxation, roads and capital improvements, health and human services, administrative and legislative, public safety, and city-county coordinating.

Each of the committees is made up of five county board members.

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