County scrambles for attorney

Schwickerath, assistant leaving next month; supervisors may go ‘part-time’ route

The Chickasaw County Attorney’s Office will lose both of its lawyers next month, leaving county officials scrambling to fill the two vacancies.

Chickasaw County Attorney Jennifer Schwickerath last week submitted her resignation, effective Aug. 13, and she confirmed later in the week that the county’s assistant attorney, Joe Gray, will also work his last day in the office on that Friday.

“There were a lot of factors that went into what was a difficult decision,” Schwickerath said. “An opportunity came up — kind of quickly, too — and I’m not going to go into specifics, but I felt like this was a good opportunity for me. As hard as it is to leave home, it’s a good fit for me.”

Schwickerath will begin her new job as an assistant city attorney in Iowa City on Aug. 16.

The Board of Supervisors met Monday morning and discussed its options.

Under state law, the supervisors can appoint a replacement to serve out the rest of Schwickerath’s term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2022, or it can call for a special election. Schwickerath also said that supervisors can hire to what would basically be an “interim” county attorney for up to 90 days.

Part of the issue for the board is the fact that there are relatively few attorneys who live in the Chickasaw County, and county attorneys are required by state law to live in the county they represent.

Another issue is the fact that currently the county attorney position is “full-time,” and under state law, that means a county attorney can’t continue to have
his or her own practice.

The supervisors on Monday voted to have Schwickerath and the county’s human resourses consultant to prepare a resolution for its Aug. 9 meeting to change the designation of the county attorney from “full-time” to “part-time.”

Board members also asked Schwickerath to continue discussions with the Anderson, Wilmarth, Van Der Maaten, Belay, Fretheim, Gipp, Evelsizer Olson, Lynch & Zahasky Law Office out of Decorah to serve as the county’s “interim” attorney.

— For more on this story, see the July 29 Reporter and the Aug. 3 Tribune

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