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Jeff Cadwell resigns to take administrator job in Mahnomen County

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell. WTIP file photo
County Administrator Jeff Cadwell. WTIP file photo

Cook County Administrator Jeff Cadwell submitted his letter of resignation Sept. 10. His last day with the county will be in mid-October.

Cadwell is leaving Cook County after accepting a job as county administrator in Mahnomen County, a rural setting in western Minnesota.

During an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs, Cadwell says the move to Mahnomen County is primarily to be closer to family. Cadwell served as the administrator for the city of Mahnomen before moving to Cook County in the summer of 2015 to start working for the county.

In the wide-ranging interview, Cadwell talks specifically about the frequent and recurring negative coverage the county and administrator position receive in the local newspaper. Cadwell also references “clandestine meetings” that are taking place in the county by a group calling themselves Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility (CFR). The group is spearheaded largely by Garry Gamble, a former Cook County commissioner and current columnist for the Cook County News-Herald. They meet periodically at the Cook County Senior Center in Grand Marais to discuss local issues and make strategic plans regarding local politics.

An effort was ongoing in September by CFR to collect signatures to persuade the county board to oust Cadwell from his post. In addition, dozens of columns by Gamble during recent years frequently referenced statements and actions Cadwell made during public meetings that were not aligned with Gamble’s view of how local government should function. A pamphlet was also distributed throughout the community citing examples of where Cadwell was performing poorly in the eyes of CFR. Cadwell says the actions of the CFR group did not lead directly to him seeking employment elsewhere, but that the situation did “take a toll.”

Cadwell also said of the CFR group:

“All of the people making those points and making those comments are not actively engaged in improving the community. They're not actively engaged with the decision making body. They’re not actively voted for or elected by the population to serve the community like the board of commissioners are. As a matter of fact, one of them was specifically unelected by the community by a pretty resounding margin.”

The full audio of Cadwell’s interview on WTIP is below.