Don Munsterman recall, Stevens County, Minnesota (2009)
The recall attempt grew out of tension over a $15 million construction project, which included courthouse renovations, a law enforcement center, and most controversially, a new jail. Commissioners argued the project was necessary, as the county’s previous two-cell jail was deemed unfit for use in the 1970s, and the county has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars transporting and housing its prisoners in other county jails while securing them by shackling them to a wall or in chairs in the courthouse.
The board of commissioners began researching jail and building options in 2004, and in summer 2008 voted 3-2 to move forward with the $15 million plan. Munsterman and fellow commissioners Larry Sayre and Paul Watzke voted for the plan, while retired commissioner Neal Hofland and current commissioner Herb Kloos voted against it. All three commissioners who voted for the plan came under fire from citizens, and the move to recall Munsterman was an effort to fight the building project. Munsterman was voted onto the board in 2006.
Recall supporters questioned the board’s insistence on moving ahead with the construction project when the economy is in recession. A resident analysis of the plan concluded that the project is too costly and that the tax burden will end up on the owners of non-homestead farm land, which is bad timing, as commodity prices are falling and input costs are rising.