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County Board rejects Yacoub bid for District 7

St. Croix County supervisors voted against Sarah Yacoub's appointment to the District 7 seat 7 to 7, with three abstentions counted as 'no' votes. Yacoub was the sole applicant for the position, and the seat remains vacant. Image via River Channel.

The St. Croix County Board seat for District 7 seat remains vacant after county supervisors voted against appointing Sarah Yacoub to the position at the June 6 meeting.

Yacoub was the sole applicant following Tammy Moothedan's withdrawal.

Supervisors' votes tied 7-7, with three abstentions votes counted against Yacoub's appointment.

Judy Achterhof, who represents District 17, was among county supervisors who entered a “no” vote.

During the meeting, Achterhof questioned whether a conflict of interest could crop up from Yacoub's private law practice.

Yacoub heads Equal Justice Inc., a Hudson-based nonprofit that assists victims of domestic abuse and provides low-cost family law representation to middle and low-income families.

Yacoub told the county board her private practice strives to hand off cases to other attorneys, and that she would abstain from votes that could cause conflict of interest.

"I believe integrity and transparency in government is absolutely essential," Yacoub said during the meeting. "So that's not something I would take any issue with as far as setting boundaries that the community is rest assured that there's no overlap."

Supervisor Dan Hanson, District 12, pointed out that former supervisor Buck Mallick, a lawyer who owned a firm in Hudson, had served on the board, "and that was never a problem."

"A responsible lawyer ought to be able to handle that," Hanson said.

Yacoub's answers, however, did not satisfy Achterhof's concern.

Achterhof said Yacoub's description of what her law firm does was inconsistent with the handout she provided board members.

Achterhof told the Hudson Star Observer it was better Yacoub not serve on the board "with the potential for conflict which would lead to stress."

"If she wants to run next time there's an opening, that's great and we'll work with her," Achterhof said.

Votes against Yacoub's appointment were also entered by County Supervisors Ryan Sicard, Tom Coulter, Bob Long, Andy Brinkman, David Peterson and Shaela Leibfried.

Each declined to comment on their vote or could not be reached by the Star-Observer's deadline.

Yacoub ran unsuccessfully for St. Croix County District Attorney as a Democrat against Republican Michael Nieskes in 2016.

She said she believes rumors that circulated about her during that election likely tinged the outcome of her county board application.

"It seemed like there was a strong influence of a lot of the lies that were spread during the race for District Attorney," she said.  "The same people that were involved in that race made a number of phone calls that inspired 'no' votes."

She called the June 6 vote "disheartening."

"We're still being taxed without representation," she said. "There are a ton of great people in the community, I'm sure there will be someone to fill the spot. If no one steps up and we get to where rubber meets the road, I'm happy to throw my name in again."

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