The next St. Louis County Attorney grew up on the Iron Range, and once dreamed of working in the hallowed halls in Duluth District Courthouse.
"I was awestruck at the time," Kimberly Maki said, recalling a mock trial event in Duluth as a high schooler. "I'm happy to say, I'm living the dream every single day."
Maki, the head of civil division within the county attorney's office, was the lone applicant to replace retiring County Attorney Mark Rubin.
Her status as acting county attorney was unanimously approved Tuesday in Duluth by county commissioners, who will finalize Maki's appointment with a vote at next week's County Board meeting in Virginia. Once approved, she'll assume the role as the county's top prosecutor and legal representative starting in October.
Rubin, 67, announced his retirement last month, effective Sept. 30.
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Maki will complete the final 15 months of Rubin's term, which is set to expire Jan. 2, 2023. When asked if she'd planned to run for the office in the Nov. 8, 2022, election, Maki affirmed her intent.
"I don't see there's a reason why I wouldn't at this point," Maki said. "If I had to file (candidacy) today, I would do so."
Under state law, it is the board's responsibility to appoint a successor until the position is next on the ballot in November 2022. The board occasionally has to hire a new county administrator, appoint a replacement commissioner or, as seen a few years ago, replace a retiring county auditor.
But it's rare to replace the county attorney. Every occupant of that office for at least the past half-century has assumed the position through election, leaving no modern precedent for the current task.
Maki, 45, has filled in for Rubin at County Board meetings many times in the past, developing a familiarity with commissioners.
"We’re incredibly fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated employee willing to step up to the plate," said Commissioner Ashley Grimm, representing western Duluth.
"I look forward to Ms. Maki being elected as St. Louis County attorney, which I have no doubt in my mind is going to be the case," said Commissioner Keith Nelson, of Fayal Township.
The outgoing Rubin was first elected as county attorney in 2010, twice running unopposed for reelection.
Maki is a 10-year veteran of the county attorney's office, the last nine in charge of civil court division. Maki worked in private practice prior to joining St. Louis County, specializing in the areas of mining and public works law.
Her experiences with appraisal techniques have been beneficial to the county’s effectiveness in the area of property tax and appeals cases, the county noted when Maki was installed as civil division head.
"Kim has been a trusted resource for me and for this board for many years," said County Administrator Kevin Gray. "That we have such a talented leader from within the office is a real testament to the depth of experience and skill within the County Attorney's Office."