We asked candidates one question, and they gave us their answers. Here’s what the Isanti County commissioner candidates had to say to our question.
With the Aug. 12 Primary Election approaching, the Isanti County News asked all primary candidates to answer the question, “What would be your top priorities if elected Isanti County Commissioner?”
I believe holding the line on taxes is a top priority. We should make sound business decisions in regard to investing, implementing social programs, and personnel are being utilized. I feel the current board has done a very good job. I am confident that when I am elected, my experience in owning a business will help the decision making policies. I enjoy people and will work well with the existing board to keep life in Isanti County a rewarding experience.
Transportation issues continue to be important. We need to safely and efficiently move residents to and from work, children to school, support small and large businesses to stay competitive and serve the needs of our agricultural community. A comprehensive road and highway plan was completed in 2007, and will have to be updated periodically to keep up with change. I will do my part to make sure we have the right equipment, people, as well as the financial capability to continue to plan for smart future growth.
It’s important to remember that one individual doesn’t decide what is going to happen, but rather five commissioners working together. I’m experienced with teamwork, by playing and coaching sports for Cambridge-Isanti schools, running a family owned business, and working on several professional boards.
It’s important to listen to the people, and I look forward to serving the people of Isanti County, especially representing the residents of District One. I want our county government to be open and accessible, so please contact me with your concerns at [email protected] Remember to vote in the primary on Tuesday, Aug. 12, and thank you in advance for your vote for Jeff Anlauf.
Howard “Howie” Lewis:
If I am elected District One County Commissioner, my first priority will be the citizens of Isanti County. Citizens tell me that keeping taxes low is important, public safety is important, the Heartland Express is important, road maintenance is important and providing family services is important.
All of these needs and wants must be funded with your tax dollars. Isanti County is one of the most frugal counties in the state of Minnesota. We rank almost at the bottom of the list of counties in spending per person (78th of 87 counties) and we rank near the bottom in how much the county taxes residents (76th of 87).
The solution shouldn’t be to raise taxes but rather to look for how we can deliver services better for less. That requires innovation in how we do things. That requires collaboration with other counties and a closer working relationship with cities. There are a number of functions that are duplicated among the cities, townships, and counties. Sharing resources should help everyone.
Specifically, the County is considering an expansion of the Government Center to meet the demands of a growing population. We need to expand the dispatch center, add a sally port, and additional garage storage. Also, the East Central Regional Library Headquarters, housed in the basement of the Cambridge Public Library, needs a new space. The Cambridge Public Library is too small to meet the growing needs for more computer space and more room for programs.
The citizens of District One of Isanti County will elect a representative that will be their voice in county government. I pledge to listen to you and be your voice. Contact me with your opinions. “Our community will be what we make by working together.” For further information, I can be reached at 763-213-5555, or email at [email protected]
There are many priorities facing the people of Isanti County today. During my career as a local specialist in plumbing, heating and air conditioning, I have had the opportunity to see many controversies firsthand. Each and every one of these topics has a solution and a department of oversight. However, every issue has an alternative. I will work to find the option that best serves my constituents and Isanti County as a whole.
Responsible allocation of funding, or the budget process, is a top priority. I am anxious to meet with the department heads to educate myself in their areas of expertise.
Just like running a business, Isanti County has a budget of $36 million that needs to be managed efficiently and responsibly.
Some ‘hot button’ issues that I plan on addressing include local job growth through economic expansion, an emphasis on improving roads and responsibly exploring all avenues of transportation. Isanti County boasts a well-established park system that requires periodic maintenance and our local veterans have concerns that need direction. Services are necessary to assist an aging baby boomer population as well as programs to encompass all ages. With my leadership on the Isanti County board, our budget can be properly executed to produce a responsible outcome for all these issues.
My work on the county board will be partly attributed to the accomplishments of those serving before me. I strive for the common good of Isanti County by using my conscience through government accountability. I ask for your vote for David Oslund in the Aug. 12 Primary.
Understanding and working with Isanti County government has been my life’s work. As county commissioner, my intent is to work hand-in-hand with the public in continuing to lead Isanti County government down the path of fiscal responsibility. My top priorities are:
- Cash reserves are too low: Cash reserves, also known as fund balances, are monies set aside for emergencies. When tax reserves get too low, it can cost the taxpayers money. Isanti County has one of the lowest cash reserves in the state. This is indicative of a historical “pass the buck” mentality, with the intent of letting the next generation deal with the problem. This needs to be rectified by creating a more efficiently-run county government, clear communication, and dealing with problems head-on as they arise. After all, this is your money, and government must act as responsible stewards.
- There is no Capital Plan: Typically, the very first step in addressing the issue of low capital reserves is addressing and enforcing a capital plan. Isanti County does not have a Capital Plan. I will work with all departments to construct, implement and fund a plan. I will listen carefully to all sides, and will represent the people as the “boots on the ground” by being regularly present in the county commissioner’s office.
- Lack of foresight: The simple fact that there is no capital plan, indicates a lack of foresight. You cannot hit a target if you don’t know what it is. Evidence has suggested that the current board has not thought ahead in this regard. Through effective communication, a deep knowledge of county government, and an effective working relationship with all departments, I will bring strategic vision and foresight to the table, and help bring the cash reserve to acceptable levels.
Click here to read what District 2 Isanti County commissioner candidates had to say.