The Anoka County Board on Tuesday briefly discussed creating a code of ethics, weeks after two women accused Commissioner Matt Look of harassing them in personal messages.
Look addressed his colleagues and a small group of constituents with a written statement denouncing the harassment allegations, first detailed in the Star Tribune, as his two accusers sat nearby.
"I harassed no one. Neither of the two ladies in either Star Tribune articles were harassed," he said. "I will not be resigning because I've done nothing wrong."
Danylle Peardon and Rachel Keller have both publicly accused Look of harassment and reported the alleged harassment to police, saying the commissioner contacted them directly after they got into arguments with him on Facebook.
"When I place personal posts on Facebook in a personal capacity, people are free to agree or disagree or they can choose to scroll past," Look said. "People have intentionally misled you … with falsified information in an effort to exaggerate a nonissue for the purposes of creating division within our community."
Commissioner Mandy Meisner is pushing for the board to consider adopting a code of ethics in response to the allegations, similar to what Ramsey, Dakota and Stearns counties have for their boards.
"We've got a lot of personnel and staff policies in place that [deal] with ethics and conduct," Meisner said. "However, we as county commissioners don't need to uphold those and so that to me is an area that … we should be stepping up."
Commissioners discussed her proposal for about 15 minutes Tuesday before the meeting ended at 3 p.m. Meisner provided copies of the codes of ethics from the three other counties in hope that the board could continue the discussion at their next work session.
Look said the board can further discuss ethics, while keeping in mind "we still have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech and I intend to enjoy this conversation."
Chairman Scott Schulte said Look's constituents need to vote him out if they disagree with his actions, or re-elect him if they agree.
"There is no remedy that is beneficial to this County Board," he said. "A public censure of a county official? That divides the board."
In text messages Look exchanged with his colleagues, obtained through a public-records request, Look referred to Peardon multiple times as a "libtard."
At Tuesday's meeting, Keller said people online have been calling her a "liberal nutjob," but she wore a hot pink "Women for Trump" face mask to prove that isn't the case.
"It has nothing to do with that. He's supposed to be nonpartisan," Keller said, adding that Look is "using politics to get what he wants."
Keller said she's worried the board won't do much in response to the allegations, but the fact that they were discussing a code of ethics was a step in the right direction.
Retiree Kim Krebsbach, who has lived in Oak Grove for more than two decades, said she'd never attended a County Board meeting before Tuesday but was motivated to go after observing Look's interactions online and because of her career in corrections, particularly in dealing with male offenders.
"When I see this kind of behavior it concerns me a lot," she said. "I felt Commissioner Look was not responding in a professional manner. I really didn't think it was appropriate. This is not a partisan body, and I also think constituents need to be treated with respect."
Meisner said she will host a town hall in March or April to discuss best practices and a code of ethics. The meeting will be held virtually and feature David Schultz, professor of political science and ethics at Hamline University, with an opportunity for the public to comment.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, tweeted Feb. 5 that he supports Meisner's efforts: "Every public board ought to have a Code of Ethics, including the Anoka County Board."
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751