by Paul Rignell
Sherburne County commissioners will be joined by one fewer staff member as they resume work at the Government Center in Elk River this month.
Continuing a process of staff cuts and reorganization from 2012, the board eliminated the position of Deputy Administrator Luci Botzek in one of its last acts in the first month of a new board term in January.
“Any time the make-up of a board changes, there’s always a possibility where the board will take a different direction, and that’s what happened here,” she told the Star News this week.
Botzek began her work for the county May 31, 2006. As she completed her duties effective Friday, Feb. 1, she had returned to being an active partner and co-owner in Capitol Connections, a state lobbying firm she founded with her spouse, Gary, in 1992.
Gary began as a lobbyist in 1985, Luci said, after he worked in Congress for John Zwach, Minnesota’s 6th District representative in the U.S. House for four terms from 1967–1975, and later during the administration of Gov. Al Quie, who held the state’s top office from 1979–1983.
Luci served as an attorney for the state Department of Revenue from 1981–1985 before joining Gary in their Capitol Connections firm. She lobbied specifically on behalf of the Minnesota Convention and Visitor Bureau from 1996 until starting work for Sherburne County in 2006.
Much of her time for the county was devoted to its interests in Northstar commuter rail. The commissioners have agreed to work out a contract with Botzek where, though she will not work regularly in Elk River, she would continue to lobby for the county at the Capitol. One mission of hers will be to make it possible for Sherburne County to shift the funding of its share of rail operations from property taxes to sales taxes. A higher sales tax is how the Anoka and Hennepin County regional rail authorities contribute their shares.
“We want to try to be in equitable position with those other counties,” Botzek said. “We can reduce the regional rail levy and provide some property tax relief to the citizens of Sherburne County.”
Botzek said that she enjoyed her time as deputy administrator. “We’ve got good people in the county,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better (lead) administrator than Brian Bensen.
“He’s very connected to, and caring about the county,” Botzek added. “It was a great honor and privilege to work with and for him.”