In the final quiet minutes of Friday’s Anoka County Board meeting, Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah dropped a bombshell: “I am stepping down as chair of the County Board today.”
Moments later, board Vice Chairman Scott Schulte followed suit.
The whiplash moment spurred a call for nominations to fill the board’s leadership for the rest of the year. Sivarajah put forward the name of outgoing Commissioner Jim Kordiak — and the gesture suddenly became clear.
After 32 years representing southern Anoka County, the next few weeks will be Kordiak’s last in office. Friday’s unanimous vote also means they’ll be his first as the board’s chairman — a role that his predecessor and father, Al Kordiak, filled before him.
“I thought I’d seen everything in county government,” Kordiak, 67, said Friday. “That one caught me by surprise.”
Since 1954, father and son have represented the county’s most diverse pocket in its southernmost district, anchored by Columbia Heights and Fridley.
During his tenure, Al Kordiak, now 90, was known by some as the “godfather of Columbia Heights” and by many as a founding father of the Anoka County parks system. When he retired in 1986, his oldest son, Jim, won the seat and has run mostly unopposed since.
For decades, the Kordiak duo ran their real estate and income tax business out of their garden-level office in Columbia Heights.
Jim Kordiak, a left-leaning commissioner on a largely conservative board, said county residents shouldn’t expect any shake-ups in his two weeks as chairman. His time in office officially ends when newly elected Mandy Meisner, of Fridley, is sworn in next month.
By then Kordiak will be more than a thousand miles away from the Anoka County Government Center. The longtime commissioner is moving to Florida after the Dec. 18 board meeting, the last meeting of the year and the only one he will spend in the center seat behind the dais.
Kordiak said he will resign the board chair position at the meeting. Then, he said, he’ll say his goodbyes, walk to the parking lot, hop in his car and drive straight to the Sunshine State.