Constituents are calling for Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look to resign or be stripped of leadership duties and one colleague is pitching a new code of ethics after allegations that Look harassed a resident.
Also, another woman has come forward with accusations similar to those of Danylle Peardon, who said she became afraid for her safety after Look harassed her in texts and suggested he knew where she lived. Peardon brought her allegations, first reported in the Star Tribune, to county leaders and local law enforcement last month.
Commissioner Mandy Meisner said she was "disturbed" to read the details of Look's interactions with constituents, particularly women, because of her volunteer work with Alexandra House, a women's shelter in Blaine. She said she believes elected officials should be held to a higher standard of conduct, and has asked the board to discuss implementing a code of ethics at an upcoming workshop.
"Unethical conduct of an elected official is unacceptable. It shouldn't be repeated," Meisner said.
Look, who has served on the County Board for the past decade, has said he didn't harass Peardon. He said in an e-mail Thursday evening that he looks forward "to the conversation on a code of ethics. Freedom of speech will [be] an interesting hurdle." He added that he hasn't fielded any calls for resignation. "I will not resign for following up with someone who has continued to harass me on social media," he said.
Peardon's interaction with Look began on Facebook, where Look posted a message Jan. 6 that Peardon interpreted as supporting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Peardon reached out to another commissioner to express her concerns and to ask if Look had a supervisor. Soon, she began receiving text messages from Look, who claimed to be "Matt Look's boss" with the Anoka County administration.
Text messages provided to the Star Tribune show Peardon asked Look to stop texting her six times — each time eliciting a response from Look — before filing a report Jan. 12 with St. Francis police. Look continued to text Peardon after that, and she notified police, who told Look to stop contacting her.
The allegations are similar to those of Rachel Keller, who contacted Ramsey police Sept. 3 after she said Look threatened her on Facebook.
According to a police report, Keller told police that she made a political post on Facebook regarding Look, who then "sent her a private message about the post."
"He at one point told her 'Game Over.' The victim felt this was a threat," the report said. Police advised Keller that "Game Over" was not a "terroristic threat" and could hold multiple meanings.
"The victim understood and did not want me to contact Look for fear he would escalate the behavior," the report said.
Commissioner Mike Gamache said he would have handled the situation with Peardon differently, and in fact avoids official county business on social media.
"It's difficult to grasp because I just don't understand why anyone would get involved in these types of things. ... This isn't the reason I ran for office and got elected," he said. "My work here is to work with my fellow commissioners to get the work of the public done."
Commissioners Julie Braastad, Robyn West and Jeff Reinert did not respond to requests for comment. Board Chairman Scott Schulte declined to comment, but in a Thursday e-mail to a constituent said, "Commissioner Look and his personality traits are something that his district needs to deal with."
"This County Board, and no other County Board in Minnesota has a 'Code of Ethics' to live up to," Schulte said in the e-mail to Anoka resident Logan Thompson, who contacted Schulte about Look's alleged conduct. "We do not have a social media policy for elected officials either."
Thompson said he reached out to Schulte because he believes there should be some kind of discipline for Look.
"I think the whole situation can be summed up in one word: inappropriate," Thompson said. "The only way we are going to recover from this is to have checks and balances and hold people responsible for the things they say on social media, especially if they are an elected official."
Other county residents expressed similar concerns.
Wes Volkenant, of Andover, asked the board to consider stripping Look of leadership responsibilities on committees and the county Regional Railroad Authority board. Volkenant said a code of ethics is a start, but he doesn't think it will fully hold Look accountable.
John Brillhart of Fridley said he thinks Look should resign.
"I don't think Matt Look deserves to hold office," he said, "and I'm disappointed in the rest of the board for their inability to do even the basics of holding him accountable."
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751