Four Kandiyohi County commissioner candidates attend chamber forum – West Central Tribune
WILLMAR – Whichever two candidates for the Kandiyohi County Council District 3 open seat will advance to the general election after the Aug. 9 primary election, voters and residents of the district can be sure that these candidates will support both broadband broadband expansion and law enforcement.
All four candidates — Dale Anderson, Joel Johnson, Karl Kaufman and Kim Larson — listed those two as top priorities at the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce candidates forum on Friday. Other priorities shared by the candidates included water conservation, fiscal responsibility and building strong relationships and open lines of communication between the council and those it serves.
All candidates have a long history with Kandiyohi County; three of them were born and raised in the county.
Anderson farms on the same land his family settled 150 years ago, growing corn, beans and small grains. He also raises beef cattle and feeds pigs on a custom basis. Anderson has served on the board of the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative for 31 years, is a board member of Great River Energy, and is also a current board member of the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds.
Johnson’s family has lived in the county since 1880 and he still operates this farm, in addition to running his own construction business and serving as a supervisor on the Mamre Township Council. He has also been involved with the Broadband Committee of the Kandiyohi County Economic Development Commission and the City of Willmar, the Pennock Lions Club and served as Chairman of the Joint Powers Board of the Pennock Fire Department.
Kaufman moved to Kandiyohi County in 1984 and worked for Hormel/Jennie-O Turkey Store for 36 years. He has worked in various departments of the company, most recently as National Account Manager in the Foodservice Division. Kaufman also has an agricultural background. He grew up on a farm and now owns and operates his own farm.
Larson is a longtime resident and business owner of Dovre Farms in Dovre Township. He has also served as an Environmental Farm Administrator for the Economic Development Commission, taught at Ridgewater College, served on the Dovre Township Council, EDC’s Agriculture and Renewable Energy Committee, and served in various leadership in the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and American Soybean. Association.
Most of the questions asked of candidates were aimed at making Kandiyohi County a safe and welcoming place not only for new businesses and families, but also for those already there. Each of the candidates said economic development should be a priority of the council and that commissioners should work to address issues that could negatively impact development. These issues include things like the lack of affordable housing, high-speed broadband, and child care.
“Daycares equal families, and we need strong families in the county,” Kaufman said. “We must have strong families in Kandiyohi County.”
When it comes to public safety, all of the candidates were supporting law enforcement and making sure county deputies had what they needed to do their job – which could include extra deputies, training and can – be an additional K-9 unit.
Drug abuse and addiction was a concern raised repeatedly. Larson said the best thing the county council can do is let the sheriff’s office and other law enforcement agencies in and around Kandiyohi County do what they need to do to respond to crisis.
“They’re going to need resources, and I’ll make sure they have those resources,” said Larson, who added that he spoke to the three Kandiyohi County sheriff candidates about the issue. “I would rather say that we don’t micromanage and let those who have the experience, the background and the understanding of how to handle issues like this do the talking.”
Another issue raised by the chamber forum was the direction of the economy and how it might negatively impact the daily lives of Kandiyohi County residents. The candidates discussed how they think the board should respond to a recession and subsequent fiscal crisis.
“We need to work together to make sure everyone has the resources they need to have a decent lifestyle,” Anderson said. “The most important thing is that we have to balance the county budget, and I think that will be a difficult thing to do.”
However, attracting and retaining families in an area is not just a matter of business. Recreational opportunities such as county parks and county natural resources also play an important role. Maintaining these resources, especially water, in good condition was also a priority raised during the forum.
“It’s a daunting thing. Conservation is important to me,” Johnson said. “Farmers don’t like regulations, they hate regulations. I don’t like them. But we’re going to have to regulate something to clean up that water. It’s going to be tough.”
Relationship building and good lines of communication were important to all candidates. Without this communication, it will be difficult to make progress.
“I think that’s important. I think that’s how you work together, plan together and grow together, to be in this immediate and direct communication effort,” Larson said.
The electoral hopes of these commissioner candidates now rest in the hands of the voters of District 3. The primary election to reduce the number from four to two will be held on August 9. The top two candidates will advance to the November 8 general election.
The newly elected commissioner will be sworn in at the first county council meeting of 2022, replacing outgoing commissioner Rollie Nissen.