Ruffatto officially appointed to fill commission seat early, swearing in ceremony Friday

Thursday, September 15, 2022
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Commissioner-elect Jeff Ruffatto

Jeff Ruffatto will be sworn into office as Stillwater County District 2 Commissioner this Friday, taking office a little more than three months ahead of schedule and restoring the Board of Commissioners back to three.

Commissioner Steve Riveland made the motion to appoint Ruffatto at a special agenda meeting held on Wednesday morning. Commission Chairman Tyrel Hamilton seconded the motion. Ruffatto will be officially sworn into office this Friday in front of the courthouse.

The District 2 seat has been vacant since May with the early departure of former Commissioner Chairman Mark Crago.

In late July, it was established that the District 2 seat would remain vacant until at least Sept. 13, under the advice of Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde. That date was based on the Sept. 6 filing deadline for writein candidates. Sept. 13 was the earliest agenda meeting after that filing date deadline that the topic could be addressed again.

Stillwater Clerk & Recorder Heidi Stadel confirmed Wednesday morning that no writein candidates had filed to run against Ruffatto. That left the commission free to move forward with appointing Ruffatto, who won a 2-candidate Primary race in June.

Ruffatto has been attending county meetings since being elected and has said he is ready to begin.

TIMING

Back at the July agenda meeting, Rohde explained the basis for her advice to the commission as follows: “I am advising the commission to forgo any appointment at this time. I have that opinion because we still have an election process in place. We have the General Election in November and my advice is based upon the fact that the government is not going to violate any potential citizen’s rights to engage in the election process.”

Secondly, Rohde said that “we are going to ensure” that the General Election is done “with integrity and full fairness.”

The appointment brings to an end a push by the Stillwater Republican Central Committee and two former commissioners that started in July, who wanted Ruffatto appointed to the seat much earlier. Some members of that group stated in public meetings that although they were not attorneys, the law directed the commission to appoint someone to the open position.

Rohde, who is an attorney, said that is not accurate.