WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 11, 2010, 09:11 AM

Rare referendum vote could decide the fate of Twin Valley's appointed city clerk position

Twin Valley, Minn. (WDAY TV) - People in the small town of Twin Valley will be making a big decision on a rare referendum this November. Voters will decide whether to change the town's government and it all surrounds one lady!

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

The issue surrounds the city clerk. Right now, it's an appointed position. Tina Murn has held the job for 19 years, but some people say she's having too much say in decision making. They now have filed a petition to get her out and an "elected" clerk in.

“We don't want a dictatorial type of government.”

Talk in the small town of Twin Valley is turning political.

“She's got too much power.”

The woman in question is the longtime city clerk.

“Time and time again, the city council listens to Tina Murn and that's wrong.

“Everybody answers to Tina when it's the city council or the mayor.”

These angry taxpayers argue Murn's position is appointed so she has no right influencing votes or making major decisions. Costly ones they say are causing people to move.

“Her name comes up countless times.”

“That's why we want change.”

The men are among 70 people who have signed a petition to oust Murn who doesn't live in Twin Valley, and then get her position elected.

“I think I'd rather work with the clerk and work on things.”

Councilman Dan Buckle denies the accusations. He says Murn can be hard to get along with, but overall she does a good job.

“I mean there are many things she's done well.”

She is someone who takes on additional duties to help the community stay in the black.

“We expect her to do a lot of those things and we do take her recommendations. I'd like to know what recommendations she's made that weren't good.”

Opponents, like Carl Fjeld, worry Murn is dividing Twin Valley, even accusing her of harassing property owners who don't mow their lawns.

“It's time to move forward because it's affecting me.”

If approved in November, one council position would be eliminated to make room for the clerk's vote. Tina Murn declined our repeated requests for an interview. A public meeting is planned before Election Day. No date has been set.

The state of Minnesota is getting involved in the bitter battle in Twin Valley. It's threatening a lawsuit if the issue isn't on the ballot.

The first petition was invalid after proper procedures weren't followed. The group had 24 hours to get the needed signatures again. It did, but not before the Attorney General and Secretary of State joined the political hot potato. That's because the city clerk approves petitions; petitions now against her.

“He figured the city clerk was stalling, stalling the petition and trying to hold it back so that you know time would lapse.”

The Norman County State's Attorney is monitoring the process to make sure all laws are followed. He denies any wrongdoing.