WORTHINGTON — Joseph Sanow will be the new Nobles County Attorney, starting Oct. 1.
Sanow, currently an assistant Redwood County attorney, accepted the job offer at the advertised salary of $91,728. He was the second choice of Nobles County commissioners, who last week voted to offer the position to Adam Johnson, an assistant Nobles County attorney. Johnson declined the salary offer of $91,728, instead requesting a salary of $110,000. Johnson's current salary is $86,566.61.
A special meeting of the county board was called Monday morning to discuss the apparent attempt at a salary negotiation.
County administrator Tom Johnson, after reviewing the process with Human Resources Director Sue Luing, said Adam Johnson declined the posted salary and the two continued talking.
“He said he would accept the $110,000 that he put on his application, and later made it sound as though $100,000 was acceptable,” the county administrator said. “Sue had no authority but to make the offer at $91,728.”
The county then sought an opinion from labor attorney Ann Goering, who joined Monday’s meeting by phone. She told commissioners their options, which included rescinding the offer to Adam Johnson and making it again at the same salary, extending an offer to him at a different salary, making an offer to a different candidate or reopening the application process.
“Any offer is available to you,” Goering advised.
Current Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz, whose retirement takes effect Sept. 30, told commissioners that while she was not part of the interview committee, she had learned about Sanow and his experience.
“I just want to make sure that you are aware that if you go with your No. 2 option here, you would be hiring somebody with less experience overall — and less criminal experience in particular — than any of the people he would be supervising,” Kusz said. “To the extent that would matter to you, I just want to make sure you are aware of that. It was unlikely that you would know the experience of the other assistants in my office.”
Commissioner Don Linssen said the job was posted at a set salary, and he viewed it as not up for negotiation.
“It’s like any other job — this is what the value is,” Linssen said. “I have a problem with going beyond that.”
“I’m a little disappointed,” added Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. “It was specified salary, application was made knowing a specified salary, interview was offered at a specified salary. I think a lot of time and resources have been spent with Adam Johnson knowing that he would not accept $91,728.”
Commissioner Justin Ahlers’ motion to offer the position to Sanow, with a start date of Oct. 1 at the annual salary of $91,728, was ultimately agreed to by unanimous vote.
“I think that obviously Mr. Johnson has indicated he is not interested in the (salary) at this time. Therefore I think we should move on,” Ahlers said. “I feel (Sanow) did seem very qualified. I liked his land-use training as well as the fact that he has prosecution experience.”