Steve Raukar will go out on top in 2016 after he takes control of the St. Louis County Board chairman position Tuesday.
The seven-member board is expected to vote Raukar in as chairman for the fifth time in his long county commissioner career that will end at the end of this year when his term expires and Raukar retires from elected office.
"This is it. I've been saying that all along now, this is my last term," Raukar said Monday. He was re-elected in 2014 to an unusual two-year term so election years would be staggered for Iron Range commissioners. "You kind of know when it's time, and it's time."
Raukar, 63, of Hibbing, was first elected to the board in 1988. He represents the 7th District that includes the southwestern corner of the county, including Hibbing, Chisholm, Floodwood and Meadowlands.
Raukar's 28 years of board service is the most of any active commissioner. Bill Kron of Duluth holds the all-time record on the board with 32 years of service that ended in 2008.
Raukar told the News Tribune that he will continue the efforts of outgoing Chairman Pete Stauber of Hermantown to keep board meetings civil and punctual. But Raukar said he will further strive to limit commissioners' speechifying, holding to Robert's Rules of Order and strictly limiting commissioners to two comments on each issue before a vote is called.
"It's incumbent of us to do the people's work in a timely manner. If we can't convince people on an issue in our two swipes at the apple, then it probably can't be done," Raukar said. "It's also important (that commissioners) come prepared and not need to ask a lot of questions they should know the answers to if they did their homework."
Raukar said he also will push the board to conduct more long-term planning sessions with county staff.
The board traditionally has alternated between southern and northern commissioners to serve as chairman. Commissioner Frank Jewell, who represents central Duluth, is in line to become vice chairman of the county board in 2016, taking the helm when Raukar is absent. That also sets up Jewell to become chairman in 2017.
Also entering their final years of the current term are Chris Dahlberg of western Duluth, who also has said he will not seek another term, as well as Patrick Boyle of eastern Duluth and Pete Stauber of Hermantown, who both are expected to run again.
The board meets Tuesday in Duluth to reorganize itself and set its meeting dates and locations for the year, including holding one meeting each month outside Duluth.