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Thompson ran unopposed for 33 years as auditor

By Staff | Jul 21, 2019

John Thompson has worked for Faribault County for the past 33 years. His last day is set for July 31.

According to an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of years a person stays at their job is 4.6 years.

Apparently John Thompson did not get that memo.

Thompson is coming to the end of his employment by Faribault County. He is currently the county auditor/treasurer/coordinator. His last official day of working for the county is July 31. It will mark the end of a 33 year career.

He started working for the county as an accountant in 1986.

Palmer Eckhardt decided to resign in 1987 and Thompson was appointed to serve out Eckhardt’s term.

He was elected to the position the following year.

“I have never had to run against anybody,” Thompson says.

He also remembers who was on the county board when he first started serving when he took over as the clerk.

“It was Bob Klingbeil, Tom Brown, Chester Christianson, Paul Beyer and Chuck Pingry,” Thompson recalls.

Working with the Faribault County Commissioners has been one of the things he has enjoyed through the years, no matter who was serving on the board.

“The board has always been decent to work with from an auditor standpoint;

that cannot be said for other counties across the state,” Thompson states.

His view in working with the board was to keep things running smoothly.

“I always felt it was important to work with the board and not against them,” Thompson says.

When Dave Frank retired as the county treasurer, Thompson took on the additional responsibilities of that office.

With 33 years of experience at the courthouse, Thompson can recall many different stories.

“It was an election year and Palmer Eckhart was going to be conducting a training session for election judges,” Thompson explains. “The night before the training, he fell out of a tree and broke his leg. So now the rookie had to conduct the meeting on a sunny September day in a hot courtroom packed with people. I am in front of the crowd addressing the people and I look out and see a guy already sleeping in the front row, I knew then I had to pick up my game.”

Elections and the way they were handled provided constant change for Thompson during his tenure with the county.

‘At one time all the ballots were printed locally and there were many different colors of ballots,” he remarks. “It would take a lot of time for some of the precincts of get done tallying their ballots. There were times when we finished up at the courthouse at 7 a.m. the next morning.”

Then came electronic voting.

“Ah, yes, the evil machine as some would call it,” Thompson comments. “The first year the ballots arrived by taxi the Friday night before the election. The had come all the way from Kansas.”

The late arrival of the ballots meant it was a busy Saturday and Sunday for Thompson and his fellow workers.

“We ran test ballots all weekend,” he says. “Election day arrived on Tuesday and everything went very smoothly.”

The introduction of computers into the county offices was another big change during Thompson’s time on the job.

“We started installing the first computers in 1987 after I had been on the job for about one month,” Thompson states.

The other big change Thompson has seen is the amount of time spent on drainage issues.

“There is a lot more tile in the ground than when I started working for the county,” he explains. “We have also spent a lot of time working on the redetermination of benefits for county tiles and ditches.”

Thompson grew up in the East Chain/Swea City area. He graduated from Swea City in 1975 and was familiar with small towns and rural living.

“I can remember working in a field near Pilot Grove and during a lunch break driving the tractor into Pilot Grove to get some food,” Thompson recalls. “Of course, the store is no longer there.”

Two years after graduating from high school, he married Charlene Peterson.

Charlene works as a paraprofessional at Blue Earth Area Schools during the school year and is employed by Seneca during the summer. The Thompsons have one child, a daughter, Kelsey, who graduated from BEA in 2005 and went on to play softball for Minnesota State Mankato.

Thompson is not going to retire and sit back and do nothing.

“I am going to work with a crew of drainage viewers based out of Freeborn County,” he says.

He also hopes to play some golf and do some traveling.

“I bought a new set of golf clubs so I hope to get out on the course a little bit,” he remarks. “I love the mountains out west so that would be a place I would like to visit.”

Thompson also expressed his thanks for past and present staff members.

“Without the support of the people I work with, my job would not have been possible,” he comments.

A retirement coffee/luncheon will be held for Thompson on July 31, at 2 p.m., in the extension room of the courthouse annex building.