Candidates seek Wright County Board seats

Newly drawn districts in Wright County have prompted many candidates to seek seats on the Wright County Board.

More than two candidates have filed papers in both the fourth and fifth districts, thus triggering the need for primary elections on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Names of the top two vote getters in each district will end up on ballots in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Wright County District 4 includes Rockford, Rockford Township, Hanover, Albertville and Precinct 1A in St. Michael. District 5 spans Franklin, Woodland, Victor, Stockholm, Cokato, Middleville, Marysville and French Lake Townships and includes the cities of Delano, Montrose, Howard Lake and Cokato.

This newspaper asked District 4 and District 5 candidates to submit biographies of themselves. They also were asked to outline what issues they think are important for Wright County. Candidates were given a 100-word limit for their biographies and a 400-word limit for their statements.

Below are submissions from the candidates.

 

DISTRICT 4

Michael Beyer

My name is Michael Beyer, the current Mayor and a 27-year resident of Rockford. I am originally from Mankato, MN.

I have been a manager in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years and have been a manager in the retail business, Menards, for the past 8 years. I am still an active member of the Rockford Fire Department for the past 18 years.

My qualifications for the position of county commissioner is my past 16 years of being involved in Rockford’s city government. I was council member for 4 years and have served 3 terms (12 years) as the Mayor. In the 16 years of serving the citizens of Rockford I have been involved in decisions both easy and difficult for the betterment of my town.

I have chosen to run for county commissioner because I feel that I can be an asset in representing both rural and city residents. I am able to make decisions that benefit the residents as a whole and not just what is best for a few.

I feel that the key issue for Wright County is to keep in perspective what the needs of each resident are. People who move here should be able to expect the same services that they look for from more populated counties. This is primarily a rural area but there are many cities that should not be forgotten when it comes to the decisions made at the county level. I feel that I can add a balance to the county board as a resident of one of the many cities in Wright County.

Visit my web site (beyerforcommissioner.com) to get know more about me or watch a city council meeting (cityofrockford.org) and see how I deal with issues.

Your vote Aug. 14 as one of the two candidates that goes to the general election will be appreciated.

David Dayon

I have been a resident of Frankfort Township and the city of St. Michael for over 43 years.

My wife, LeAnne, and I have owned a horse breeding, foaling and rehabilitation business since 1988. My business allows me the flexibility to devote time to addressing issues within the community.

I am currently a member of the St. Michael Planning Commission, and have served with the Planning Commission since 1996. I served as the Chairman from 2000-2009, and also served on the Frankfort Township Planning Commission from 1992–1996.

I am also a Commissioner with the St. Michael Economic Development Authority, and have served the EDA since 2001. I was the Chairman in 2010 and 2011.

During my service tenures with the City of St. Michael, I have made a difference in how the city has expanded, and how it looks today.

I was involved with the merger of Frankfort Township and the City of St. Michael in September 1996. This gave me first hand experience dealing with the issues faced by township governments. With my help, the township merged with St. Michael instead of being annexed. The merger resulted in an expanded land area for the city of St. Michael, and was mutually beneficial for Frankfort Township, as the rural residents did not lose their rights and representation as a result of the merger solution.

I was instrumental in managing the growth and expansion of the city of St. Michael during the period of the largest population and business expansion in the history of the city. The city of St. Michael is now the largest city in Wright County, thanks in part to my hard work and desire to discuss all issues with all interested parties.

In addition to working on local issues, I have also been a lobbyist at the state level. I worked on agricultural and rural property tax issues since 2008, which has given me a firm understanding of how state government operates.

I am a veteran and proudly served my country from 1965-69 with the U.S. Navy. I received an honorable discharge at the end of my four-year service term.

I have a knack for getting things done, but am careful to listen to everyone that has information or opinions about any topic. I frequently state, “I may not know the answer to a specific question, but I know who to ask!”

Through conversations with city leaders within District 4, I have identified two topics that are frequently brought up as concerns – transportation and economic development. I believe that the role of county government is to advise and assist local governments with their concerns, but not to direct local government activity from the county level.

I have also identified increasing the efficiency of communication with constituents and local government officials as one thing I will strive to achieve as the Wright County Commissioner for District 4.

For more information, visit the web site, ddayon.com.

Michael Potter

I’m Michael Potter and I’m running for Dist. 4 Wright County Commissioner.

I’m 54 years old and married to Heidi for 29 years. We have three daughters, Laura, Rachel and Amy.

We have lived for 28 years in Albertville. During that time I’ve served as a council member and mayor, along with the Joint Powers Water Board, transportation task force, water management task force and other boards.

I’m a small business owner, one of which was a real estate broker. During that time I brokered the Outlet Mall. I currently own a resort and work construction and sales.

I would like the opportunity to serve the citizens of Dist. 4. I believe that I have the skills and experience to help us keep taxes down and encourage business development. We need to keep taxes down while fostering a positive environment for new opportunities in growth. We need to improve our transportation in the eastern half of the county along with other infrastructure needs of each city and township.

Thank you, and I’m asking for your vote Aug. 14.

Matt Walker

Bio:

• Fifth generation resident of Wright County.

• Graduated from Buffalo High School 1981.

• Attended Alexandria Technical College, degree in Law Enforcement.

• Career in Law Enforcement. Wright County Deputy 1983-2002.

• 2002-present Metro Transit Police Department, currently assigned to Counter-Terrorism Unit.

• Served as elected board supervisor for Rockford Twp.

• Married with two teenaged children attending Buffalo High School.

• Avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and trapping.

• I also raise beef cattle with my parents on the family farm in Rockford Twp.

• Hobbies are gardening and quilting.

 

Reasons for running:

My promise is to not take a wage from the county for the first year in office. I plan to keep my police job for the time being. Why would I do this? Two reasons — I look at the commissioners position and myself as an entry level elected official no employee starts at the top. I am committed to serving the people of the county not the pay.

I believe I represent most people in Wright County. I’m in my late 40’s with a family and home. I care about what happens to people around me. After nearly 29 years in law enforcement, I have witnessed horrible things that people can do. I have also witnessed what good people can do working together. I believe in the human spirit.

Government is to be Of, By, and For the people. While my viewpoint is most generally conservative, I am glad that this is a non-partisan office. My goal as commissioner is to look for what meets the needs of our residents. I believe that local government needs to be able to sustain itself. We have witnessed in recent years budget shortfalls at the state level that has hurt many of our cities with cuts to LGA, local government aid. County, township and cities simply must work together to collectively make us stronger and meet the needs of our residents.

A family or business can’t spend more than it takes in. Government adjusts its budget every year. In my personal life I have had years where I simply didn’t make as much as the previous year. Collectively in a difficult economic time, government can’t keep going back to the well; I can’t afford it.

I would start with an open door policy for all county residents and employees. I want to know where the employees believe changes can be made I have spoken to several of them, they have ideas. So do residents. Many don’t think anyone is listening. I spoke to several area residents about a fund raising idea for their organization. While I was there I heard what they were working on and realized that county government could possible help. If we take an active-roll and reinvent how we look at government. Let’s take what we have right now and make it work for us. I will work with our employees insuring we get the most out of our resources.

Let’s manage what we have.

Mary Wetter

 

Biography:

Married to Leander 37 years, three adult children; lived in Wright County 39 years, 37 in Rockford Township; Bachelor of Science, University of Minnesota, Medical Technology; MN. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts/University of Minnesota Extension Leadership Institute; farming 30 years dairy and crops; past Laboratory Supervisor Buffalo Hospital; Wright Soil and Water District (SWCD) Supervisor – 10 years; Wright SWCD Legislative and Finance Committees; MN. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) Metro Area Director; MASWCD Legislative and Resolution/Policy Committees; Metropolitan Conservation Districts Technical Service Area Joint Powers Board; Lake Monitoring volunteer; Extension Committee; 4-H leader.

 

Statement on

the issues:

County government touches so many aspects of our lives, whether it is our health, our mobility, or our safety. I am a strong advocate for local government.

I believe in user-friendly zoning laws. I do not believe in larger government. I do not believe in higher taxes. It will take someone as county commissioner who has the vision to foresee and be innovative to keep this county strong and responsive to its citizens’ needs, make responsive policy decisions, and use its resources wisely, effectively and efficiently.

Creating the county budget is therefore one of the most challenging jobs of the county commissioner.

I am fiscally conservative and as such, our tax dollars must be spent wisely and waste eliminated. We all want more and better services for that tax dollar, so spending must be reduced. Innovative solutions must be sought. Partnering and shared services must be investigated to keep services in place but reduce the cost and burden carried by the taxpayers. Having lived in Wright County for 39 years and being actively involved already in local politics as well as co-managing our family farm for 30 years, I understand the issues involved and I have the training and the experience to address these issues on behalf of the people of District 4 and what is best for the county. I will be fiscally responsible, accessible, approachable, accountable, proactive and responsive to you. Thank you for your consideration.

For more information and to contact me: www.marywetterforcountycommissioner.com.

 

DISTRICT 5

Eight candidates will be on the ballot in the primary election for the newly created District 5. They are Larry Bartels of Delano, Charlie Borrell of Waverly, Tom LaPlant of Buffalo, Richard “Dick” Mattson of Marysville Township, Vickie Nibbe of Howard Lake, Paul B. Schoberg of Delano, Dan Vick of Delano and Leonard Wozniak of Cokato.

Larry Bartels

I am a lifelong resident of Delano, where I reside with my wife Lynn and our two children. I graduated from Delano High School in 1974, then attended the University of Minnesota from 1974-1976 studying engineering, business, and economics. I have been employed in the building materials industry since 1977, with the last 30 years spent in the capacities of both sales and management. I also have served on the Delano City Council for 16 years, and for 11 years on the Delano Municipal Utilities Commission, a statutory commission that provides electric and water service to Delano residents and supervises all operations regarding those services. I have chaired that commission since 2004.

Why would I be qualified to serve as your County Commissioner?

County Commissioners are responsible for setting policy, making budgets, and supervising over 700 employees working for Wright County. I have a 20-year track record of successfully working with my fellow council members and commissioners to set attainable goals, develop conservative, yet realistic budgets, and provide fair treatment of our employees. I encourage you to ask anyone who has ever worked with or for me for his or her opinion of me. I think they will tell you I am fiscally conservative, willing to see all sides of an issue, ask tough questions that need to be asked, and willing to put the hours in and do the research needed to get the job done.

Why have I chosen to run for this office?

I believe I have the experience and ability to fairly assess the present structure of our county government and how services are being delivered and find if there are additional efficiencies that can be implemented both to save money and improve customer service.

What are the most important issues?

The most important issue for myself or anyone who steps in here is managing a budget of around $100 million per year. We all know our economy has hit a rough patch that frankly might last for several more years. Your commissioner must have the ability to prioritize spending. The mandatory core functions of our county government such as public safety and human services must have adequate funding to keep performing those functions. Some capital projects or funding additional parks or other non-critical services will have to be reevaluated if shortfalls occur.

I just would ask each and every one of you to consider carefully which candidate has the experience, education, track record, and proven skills needed to wisely spend your tax dollars. I believe I am that person. I am willing to listen to all sides, put in needed hours, and come up with an understandable and defensible solution to the issue.

Thank you for you interest, and thank you for your vote.

Charlie Borrell

I am a lifelong Wright County resident, growing up on a farm in Woodland Township. My wife Lynn and I attend St. Mary’s Church in Waverly, and we have four children. I am a 1973 graduate of Howard Lake High School, and hold a BS degree in business management from St. Cloud State University. I am a US Navy veteran, completing four years active duty and 17 years of reserve duty. Since 1980 I have farmed in Woodland Township as well as run a small business.

My educational background and life experiences are the biggest assets that I will bring to the County Commissioner’s position. I have served on the Woodland Town Board, as well as the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board. In both capacities I have been responsive to needs of people I served, and have been a good steward of the position.

I am proud to have been endorsed by the Republican Party of Wright County for the Fifth District and will always be guided by my conservative values. I believe the degree that we are controlled by government rules and regulation has increased and should be stopped. Our founding fathers risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, to make this country free. We cannot continue to over regulate lives of people and business, and expect to remain a free people.

I believe that government should serve the people. We should not be a people that have to serve government. Too often this has been the way that our leaders have taken us. I will do my best to reverse this trend and return government to the people. I believe even the best of leaders tend to become part of the system after a long period of time. To this end, I promise that if elected, I will serve no more than two terms.

Tom J. LaPlant Sr.

I am 65 years old, married and have several children and grandchildren. I have lived in Wright County my entire life. My family first came to this county in 1854. We were the fourth family to file a land claim in Wright County.

I was born and raised on a farm. I graduated from Buffalo High School in 1965 where I played football and wrestled with some of the best athletes in Delano, including Ditty, Klick, Fink, and Branson. I have owned and operated several businesses, last being Doc’s TV and Appliances in Buffalo.

The main job as commissioner is to spend your tax dollars with care. The other major issue is to keep roads safe for everyone.

I believe the local township boards should be more involved with planning and zoning. I also think the court system should be expedited through arbitration when there is a victimless crime.

I would also like to see commissioners’ terms be limited to no more than two terms.

Last thing is to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Thank you and please vote.

Dick Mattson

I am running as the incumbent to serve as your County Commissioner in the Fifth District. As a life-long resident of Marysville Township and the fourth generation of my family to reside here, I have a deep appreciation for the rural environment in contrast to the needs of urban society.

Prior to serving as your commissioner, I along with other family members farmed in the county and pursued that endeavor for 35 years. During this time, we started Mattson Bus Company, which provided bus transportation for the Buffalo School District. As the business grew, we added a charter service and employed up to 70 people in the local area. During this time, I acquired a wealth of experience bidding service contracts, dealing with personnel matters, negotiating equipment purchases and maintaining budget controls to ensure growth of the business. As your commissioner, I have applied this experience in running our county government.

Since becoming your commissioner, I have made this my full-time endeavor. I meet people in the district on a continuing basis to get first hand input, and I share your concerns with my fellow commissioners and appropriate county departments. I try to be in the office at 8 a.m. each morning (schedule permitting) to make myself available to you and county employees. I am committed to represent you and your tax dollars in the most efficient way as our county progresses.

Wright County’s population now exceeds 123,000 people. We are the second fastest growing county in the state. Because of this growth, our county government has grown to meet the needs of today’s society. Increased crime, divorce rates, drugs and other behavior problems have increased the size of government and the tax burden on county citizens. We are continually challenged by planning upgrades, new construction requirements and other regulations dictated by state and federal government agencies.

This rapid growth encumbers a substantial burden on our lifestyle. I endeavor to preserve a healthy social and working environment for the generations to come. I thoroughly enjoy serving District 5 citizens. I am counting on your vote Aug. 14.

Vickie Nibbe

I grew up in the small town of New London, Minn. and received degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology. I worked as a senior research engineer for Honeywell in Plymouth before shifting my focus to education of my five children. My husband, Bill, and I have been married for 29 years and have lived in Wright County for 15 of them. I am a conservative who uses a common sense approach to solving problems. In addition, I am a fast learner and have a strong desire to meet and serve people.

The biggest issue facing Wright County is the instability of the American economy. With the current economic climate it will become difficult for the county to maintain its level of services without raising property taxes. Increasing property taxes is not acceptable, especially with decreasing home values. Residents’ hard-earned tax dollars must be spent wisely.

Government business must be conducted more efficiently; wasteful spending must be eliminated. A complete analysis of county jobs and responsibilities will have to be made, and innovative solutions to budget problems will have to be found. It will be necessary to work closely with municipal and township governments to identify and eliminate duplicate programs. It also will be necessary to aggressively lobby state legislators to change laws that mandate services that restrict use of county funds. I will work to resolve the tough problems that challenge us and not leave them for future generations.

Another issue facing Wright County particularly in District 5 is rapid and unbalanced population growth. Between the years of 2000 and 2010 Wright County was the second fastest growing county in the state with a growth rate of 38.6 percent. Most of the growth came from the eastern part of the county with the city of Otsego growing over 100 percent during that same time period. The county will need to provide infrastructure to meet needs of rapidly growing areas, yet at the same time be conscious of preserving the county’s agricultural environment and residential quality of life. I will work to ensure the needs of District five residents are not overlooked.

My vision for the county is to move it in a direction that other counties are drawn to follow with new and innovative solutions to problems and budgeting issues. The county must focus on providing exceptional protection for residents and on providing a first-rate dependable infrastructure for residents and businesses to excel.

I would like to see programs abolished that hinder citizens from taking responsibility for their lives. Restrictive county regulations that stifle business growth must also be eliminated. Finally, it is important that the county not be dependent on funds from the federal government. Using such aid restricts local government from adequately and independently performing its functions. As commissioner, I will work closely with state and federal legislators to discourage legislation that encroaches upon our freedoms.

Paul Schoborg

Since the deadline for filing candidacy papers, Paul Schoberg has withdrawn from the County Commissioner race. His name will continue to be on the ballot. Schoberg explained his withdrawal, “After learning how many hours a week a commissioner spends working for the county, I now know I won’t have the time to do a good job. I wish the other candidates good luck.”

Dan Vick

I am a long time resident of Wright County with more than 40 years of history in this community — serving as a member of Delano’s City Council along with being a Delano High School graduate (earning my GED). I am 49 years old and have been married to my wife, Karn, for 27 years. Together, we have two daughters.

I have experience as an independent businessman, through D. Vick Builders and more recently, Hom Inspections. Also I founded Delano Rental Inc. and All Party Rents, which was sold to pursue several U.S. patents on one product. My business education includes completing courses on home inspections, home energy auditing and continuing education for general contracting for 10 plus years.

I have served as a volunteer for many projects that have benefited the community as a whole. Previously I enjoyed coaching girls’ basketball for seven years and softball for more than 10 years. My political background has been Independent, leaning towards a Libertarian philosophy.

As a candidate for County Commissioner, I see Wright County as a great place to live and work. The county’s operation could be improved by a renewed focus and emphasis on our county’s priorities:

• Balanced and fiscally responsible budget

• Public safety — police and emergency services

• Public infrastructure — highways/roadways and ditches

•Helping people with careful planning and zoning policies to generate the best outcomes for our county/community

We also need to prioritize among our programs with features we can afford within the county’s revenue capacity. In this lean economic climate, we need to review the county operation and (1) see where we can streamline the county’s costs of operation and (2) identify projects that may be delayed until county revenues are more stable. For potential savings, we must explore all possibilities, big and small. The county should work with people, townships and cities to combine services if at all possible to save money while maintaining local control.

I believe in a more transparent government and more public involvement so that difficult choices can be made with all information “on the table.” The county commissioner must provide leadership on issues, but greater involvement from the broader community will benefit everyone. I look forward to serving Wright County residents/citizens as County Commissioner and working with other staff and the people of the area.

Leonard Wozniak

I have lived in Wright County and Stockholm Township all my life. I have been married 38 years and have three children that all live and work in Wright County. I dairy farmed for 28 years and for the last nine I have been working as an electronics tech at Sauntec in Cokato. I am 59 years old.

For nine years I was a Town Board supervisor for Stockholm Township along with handling planning and zoning for the last 20 years. Also I was on two co-op boards, one for nine years and one four years. I worked with the city of Cokato and two other townships to help set up a joint fire commission to oversee fire protection in our area. When township residents requested that the Town Board set up our own planning and zoning, I built it from the ground up by teaching myself all that can be involved in starting and running a planning and zoning system.

I believe that I can offer the best leadership for the county through the uneasy times ahead. With my experience in the agriculture industry, manufacturing, and business, I can directly relate to issues affecting us. I know that I can do the job and that I have skills for working well with people that need a good voice in county government.

What are the most important issues facing Wright County? The county recently has begun turning roads back to the townships for upkeep and repair because they claim to not have the money to do improvements. This shows me that in the past years the just getting by budgets will not improve this situation. There needs to be real constraints and across the board reductions. County Commissioners will have to be innovative and open to new ideas to align us with the new normal in county government finances.

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