Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
BREAKING: Washington County picks Nathan Repp for attorney
WASHINGTON — In a narrow vote, the Washington County Board of Supervisors chose Nathan Repp for an appointment to the Washington County Attorney’s position at a special meeting Saturday morning, the last day the board was legally allowed to choose a replacement for former County Attorney John Gish under state code.
Currently a Scott County Assistant Attorney, Repp said in a job interview that his office had one of the highest case loads in the state, and that he’d been involved in 50-70 jury trials. He said he immediately accepted the offer in a call after the meeting.
“I know they had some really good candidates, and for them to ultimately choose me, it gives me an opportunity to do what I’ve always done and what I always want to do on a greater scale,” he said. “I look forward to coming into Washington County, and trying to continue the same good work that was done previously and kind of start my own path.”
After nearly 40 minutes of discussion, a series of motions to appoint other candidates failed to pass. The first, from Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. — to offer the job to Attorney General’s Office Staff Member Zachary Miller — went without a second. Another to appoint current Assistant Washington County Attorney Shane McChurch died after a 2-3 vote, with only the support of supervisors Bob Yoder and Richard Young.
Repp’s vote was the third motion made, passing on a slim 3-2 margin with the votes of supervisors Stan Stoops, Marcus Fedler and Bob Yoder.
Yoder said he was split between Repp and McChurch, but that the former “interviewed the best of all three.” Supervisor Stan Stoops said the attorney was “the best for Washington County overall,” but did not elaborate.
Fedler said Repp was his first choice, and that the candidate had ideal qualifications that could improve Washington County’s judicial system.
“The one thing that (stuck) out for me, for Nathan in particular, was his experience with drug court and mental health court,” he said. “I think that’s something that’s needed in Washington County … and having access and experience with that, a lot of experience with that, to me, makes a lot of sense.”
The debate between candidates was contentious, and decision-makers said it was not an easy choice by any means. Board members cited a strong letter of recommendation for Zachary Miller, and a lengthy list of endorsements for Shane McChurch from county staff as arguments for the other applicants.
Some of those references spoke on McChurch’s behalf during a public comment period of the meeting.
“I have talked to many of the attorneys that we work with, many of the other offices in anticipation of this,” said Jen Learner, another Washington County Assistant Attorney. “ (McChurch) would do a fantastic job, he lives here, he’s building his family here, he has been in the office … quite frankly, he is extremely qualified for the job.”
Staff of the Washington County Attorney’s office declined to comment on Repp’s appointment after the meeting.
Under Iowa code, the appointment is not necessarily set in stone. State law gives voters 14 days to submit a petition for election, which would make Repp’s appointment temporary, until a special election could be held for the office. Such a petition would require a number of signatures equal to at least 10% of the county’s votes submitted for the governor’s office in the most recent election. In this case, that’s a tall order: 8,874 Washington County residents cast a ballot in the governor’s race in 2022, meaning a petition would require almost 900 signatures gathered in under two weeks.
Otherwise, the appointment would last until the next general election in 2024, according to public notices published by the county in January.