Stearns County Commissioner District 5
County commissioners are the county s key policymakers. They oversee the administration of the county, set county budget, and participate in county long-range planning. County services that they oversee include a wide variety of social service and welfare programs, as well as certain public health programs. Learn more about the day in the life of a county commissioner in this video from the Association of Minnesota Counties.
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If elected, what will your top three priorities be and why? (750 characters)
What actions would you take, if any, to address affordability of housing in your county? (500 characters)
How would you ensure election laws do not create barriers to Minnesotans’ freedom to vote while also ensuring safe and secure elections? (500 characters)
What do you see as the biggest challenges to mental health and social services in your county, and how would you address them? (500 characters)
If there were to be budget cuts during your term, what are the most essential county services that you would advocate to preserve? (500 characters)
I don't rank my priorities as I pay more attention to the issues that are forefront to residents. Our county has always focused on fiscal responsibility and the county administration knows this so they present preliminary budget information to the board that is not a large bucket of wish list items. Focusing on 3 priorities can cause one to miss the issues that are at the forefront of resident concerns. Every year it seems like different issues rise to the top. In 2021 short-term vacation rentals were an issue as are solar installations so our focus shifts to resolving these types of issues to make a solution all residents can live with. We had ordinances in place but over time they need to be adjusted.
We work with many agencies that are focused on housing issues and we try to assist them in achieving their missions and also to make housing available to area residents. I sit on the Tri-CAP board which also provides housing assistance to the Tri-county area. Our HRA also works on partnering with developers to create affordable housing for residents throughout the County but unfortunately right now costs are prohibiting developers from making investments without some type of financial assist.
Minnesota has one of the best voting systems in the country. Our county provides opportunities for voters to come in and be shown the election process and how it flows from planning for an election cycle to certifying the election results. County election staff are the ones who are at the forefront and can reach out to our State elected officials and tell them what might cause problems for voters. Most are readily engaged and provide feedback to the State officials when they see issues.
The sharing of data between mental health providers and police or sheriff's departments to help separate out individuals struggling with mental health from being put in jail for the wrong reasons. The biggest issue is we are addressing problems after they occur when we should be looking at what leads to the issues we are seeing and trying to correct the issues on the front side.
I would start with any nonessential services first but I would be more inclined to look at all areas to see if there are parts of each area that can be cut without too much long term ramifications. I'd want to have a good plan laid out that at some point bringing these areas back on line wouldn't cause a huge financial burden to restart. Budget cuts even in nonessential services can still cause harm to a sector of the county so there needs to be a system to get them back at some point
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