Groh seeks to keep seat

Published 7:01 pm Saturday, May 24, 2014

Doug Groh

Doug Groh

The public official who oversees Mower County elections is seeking another term.

Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh filed to seek re-election last week.

Groh said members of his staff asked him to run again. He also said he loves his job, as it keeps him moving with various tasks and that he’s never bored.

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“I have an investment in my job, and I also have an investment in my community,” Groh said.

If re-elected, Groh promised to continue what he called a successful record of fulfilling the needs of the taxpayers and overseeing elections in Mower County.

As senior election official, Groh oversaw state, federal and local recounts. His office is also in charge of tax records and tax forfeitures. He said his office has successfully handled the tax forfeiture process, helping people stay in their homes when possible.

During his tenure, the county enacted Automated Clearing House payments — a system for residents to automatically pay their property taxes through their bank account. Groh said Mower was one of the first Minnesota counties to do so.

If re-elected, Groh said he plans to implement a debit/credit card payment system for paying taxes.

Groh’s latest term hasn’t been without controversy.

Last July, the Office of the State Auditor filed a report after an investigation into a $500 cash shortage was discovered in the auditor-treasurer’s office, and  procedure changes were recommended. Then last August, a verbal altercation led both Groh and Finance Director Donna Welsh to accuse the other of being verbally abusive. The board voted to limit contact between Groh and Welsh to emails or letters, with a human resources or county administration representative present during face-to-face meetings.

However, a report completed by Scott T. Anderson of Rupp. Anderson, Squires & Waldsburger PA did not find that Groh or Welsh acted in a disrespectful or offensive manner.

“The conduct that occurred, while it was stressful and uncomfortable for both parties, on the evidence presented could not be found to be a violation of the County’s Respectful Workplace Policy,” the report read.

The report said Groh inappropriately expressed stress caused by additional workloads.

There have also been disagreements between Groh and the board over the authority of Groh’s office.

“People have disagreements,” Groh said. “That’s the course of the business.”

On multiple occasions, the board has unsuccessfully sought legislation to appoint the auditor-treasurer and recorder positions, but Groh said that’s happening in several counties.

“It’s nothing unique to Doug Groh,” he said.

Groh has more than 24 years of experience with the county. This would be Groh’s third term as auditor-treasurer after serving one term as treasurer. Before that, Groh was chief deputy auditor for 13 years.