Mordhorst to fill BOC vacancy

Lyle Mordhorst will replace retiring Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler on the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Lyle Mordhorst will replace retiring Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler on the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

DALLAS — The Polk County Board of Commissioners have selected West Salem resident Lyle Mordhorst to fill the remainder of retiring Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler’s term.

Mordhorst is the manager of the West Salem Les Schwab and has volunteered to serve on the Edgewater Redevelopment Advisory Board, the West Salem Gateway Revitalization Study project advisory committee, and on the West Salem High School Education Foundation. He is involved with the West Salem Business Association.

While the commissioners didn’t discuss their selections before Wednesday’s meeting, Mike Ainsworth and Craig Pope both selected Mordhorst.

For Ainsworth, it’s Mordhorst’s West Salem connection that made him the best choice.

“When it came down to it, I’m looking for someone who will tie in the county, and what I mean by that is we are kind of heavy over here in Monmouth and Independence. Jennifer lives in Independence and Craig and I live on Airlie Road,” Ainsworth said. “Although all three of us have represented West Salem best we can, I believe that Lyle is the natural choice, for me personally, to tie that in.”

Pope said he also considered a balance of representation on the board.

“I believe my nomination is one that will carry the vote in two years, and I hope that he will indulge us all with his commitment to serve beyond this appointment,” Pope said. “His history of community involvement is deep, and the style of his leadership attracts followers from all walks of life.”

Wheeler retires Dec. 31, and Mordhorst will officially begin his new job on Feb. 1. He will serve two years and have the choice to run for election in 2020.

Mordhorst said he will be attending the board’s meetings until he takes over the seat.

“Trying to sleep the last two nights was almost brutal,” Mordhorst said, smiling after his selection.

He said he’s always had an interest in politics.

“Working for Les Schwab, you are not allowed to run for office. You have to quit,” he said. “I’ve got 35 years with the company, and I was getting close to retirement anyway. When this came up, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

Pope thanked the other four candidates: Micky Garus, Burney Krauger, Anna Scharf and Kimber Townsend.

“You are all wonderful, wonderful people, and I hope that you will keep coming forward,” he said. “I think the choices we’ve made, this has been based on weeks and weeks of deliberation and listening to people and talking to community folks.”

For more on this story, see the Dec. 12 edition of the I-O.

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