Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



City clerk wins re-election after theft charge

RED WING — Felony criminal charges hang over the head of an incumbent who narrowly claimed victory Tuesday night over a last-minute write-in challenger, leading to some concern among voters and city officials in Randolph.

Randolph City Clerk Sheila Ann Ekstrom, 58, had no opponent when she ran for re-election in the city of about 400 just west of Cannon Falls, where she has served for the past decade. However, on Oct. 21, she was charged in Goodhue County District Court with two counts of felony theft and one county of felony check forgery while serving as the Dennison City Clerk, an appointed position, for alleged actions from May 2012 to early 2014.

According to the eight-page criminal complaint, Ekstrom repeatedly issued herself second copies of paychecks during the period in question. She sometimes forged the second signature required to issue such a check, while other times was issued another by the Dennison City Council after claiming the first one had been lost, according to the complaint.

An auditor discovered $5,091.64 in missing funds in June 2013, prompting a closer look at the city's finances. Once the trail led the auditor back to Ekstrom in spring 2014, she "reportedly told (the auditor) that the previous town treasurer had made a mistake and 'what was done was done,'" according to the criminal complaint.

As details continued to emerge, Ekstrom resigned as Dennison City Clerk on April 29, 2014; she maintained her position as city clerk of Randolph.


In a subsequent interview with investigators, Ekstrom said she had taken records of the forged checks home and destroyed them, according to the criminal complaint. She told the investigator  she thought the total she had received was about $1,500.

"At the end of the meeting, Ekstrom again said she had no reason to take any money from Dennison but did it because she could," the complaint says. "Ekstrom advised she wanted to pay the money back."

Ekstrom is scheduled to make her first appearance in court on Jan. 9. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

While her legal status hangs in limbo, she appears to have won a narrow victory to keep her position as Randolph City Clerk. Dakota County elections manager Andy Lokken said early Wednesday that it appeared Ekstrom and Mary Haro, a write-in challenger, had tied with 40 votes apiece.

Additional analysis revealed Ekstrom defeated Haro 40-36 with 17 others receiving write-in votes — including two for "anyone else" and one for "anyone but a thief," according to voting records provided by Lokken.

Randolph Mayor Robert Appelgren said he's hopeful his friend Ekstrom isn't found guilty because "we're a close-knit community." However, the city is still performing its due diligence. Appelgren said he has had no complaints about Ekstrom's service, but the financial concerns in Dennison prompted Randolph to conduct an audit that's expected to wrap up in a few weeks.

Given the results of Tuesday's election, Appelgren said the city's options may be limited even if Ekstrom is convicted of the felony charges. He said those conversations will continue with the city attorney, as necessary.

"Our hands are very tied on what we can do and cannot do because she's elected by the public and not appointed," Appelgren said.

What To Read Next
Get Local