As your current commissioner, my priorities will continue to include responding to the increased need and demand for high levels of mental healthcare. I am working with state and local partners to increase crisis options, reduce stigma, and advocate for policy changes to improve outcomes. Another priority is responding to the childcare crisis and workforce issues. I will continue to work with policy makers for legislative change while keeping the safety and development needs of our children foremost. I regularly meet with local partners seeking to expand childcare capacity and support increased wages for early education professionals and access to benefits. I will continue to elevate minority voices and promote diversity and inclusion.
I support the development of housing projects for low to moderate income households, specifically those with spaces reserved for folks experiencing homelessness or who have disabilities, affordable housing for seniors, and expanded opportunities to get people out of homelessness or precariously housed situations. I also support residential opportunities for families who want to live rural, but don’t want to farm, while being thoughtful about maintaining the rural character of these areas.
I am a strong communicator and while our Auditor’s office and election judges do a fantastic job, it’s still my duty to communicate to see that statute is followed, that ballot boards are balanced, that public information about the election process is easily found and accessible, and that we are being transparent while maintaining the high levels of security called for in the law. I also regularly share links to election information from the county to make it easier for more residents to find.
Clay County does not have the facilities to meet our crisis and residential treatment needs. We regularly send people to other counties exacerbating a painful situation by separating them from their loved ones. This is costly and a burden on taxpayers. Our county has growing chemical dependency rates co-occurring with other mental health concerns. I will continue fighting to increase bed space for mental health needs and support the Substance Abuse Crisis Center to replace our inadequate detox.
The guiding principle of my decision-making is protecting the health, safety and well-being of our residents and our environment. So many of our services and departments cover these areas and I am very careful to consider all of the implications of budget-cuts from a variety of perspectives before moving ahead.
I will be committed to upholding a sustainable budget by supporting established priorities to ensure essential services are met, especially during these inflationary times. I will be proactive in meeting the growing needs for treatment and protection of children and adults by expanding the support of local and state resources. Social service demands continue to increase with our growing population. I will be an advocate for providing core policies which continually enhance a safe and secure community. This means supporting a strong public safety system, environmental protections of our water and land resources, and support of public health resources to meet the diverse needs of residents.
Housing affordability is being severely diminished due to inflation, low inventory and increasing demand. This can be alleviated by a stronger workforce and business growth increasing revenue to keep pace with rising housing costs. I support the 2-year new construction property tax rebate to assist in new growth. I will advocate, using my past leadership experiences, for affordable housing by working with legislators to increase funding for MN Housing Finance and other community housing grants.
Minnesota State Statutes are in place to safeguard us from the abuse of safe and secure elections. Clay County commits to follow these statutes. Fortunately for Clay County, we have a long-term Auditor/Treasurer who faithfully fulfills the duties and responsibilities to protect the public for free and fair elections. I have confidence in the system that is in place. My obligation as an elected official will be to encourage every Clay County citizen to participate and vote!
One of the greatest challenges is providing housing and treatment services for the protection of children and adults with substance abuse and mental health issues. Locally, we do not have the necessary housing to meet the demand, therefore people are transferred to state facilities, creating a financial burden to the County. Grants and incentives need to be found to help with this deficiency. This would be accomplished by increased legislative support along with public/private investment.
Public safety will always rise to the top in order to keep up with a sustainable workforce, current technology, and equipment. I would advocate for maintaining roads and bridges to provide safe and fluid transportation access to meet ongoing growth and demands in our county. The County also has a responsibility, as required by statute, to meet the mandatory obligations of public health and social services to protect the vulnerable.