Sept. 4, 2006

Four-way race for Carver commissioner seat

By Lynda Jensen

The commissioner seat that represents New Germany and Mayer is on the primary ballot next week, with four candidates vying for the spot.

Incumbent Jim Ische of Norwood Young America has re-filed, along with three challengers; Fern Lindemeier of Norwood Young America, Bruce Schwichtenberg of Chaska, and Mark Boecker of Belle Plaine.

The following is a candidate profile for each candidate.

Bruce Schwichtenberg, Chaska

Why are you running for office?

The development of Carver County and the taxing and spending that goes with it must be examined. We need someone who is like us, who will ask questions and get answers that make sense, long before there’s a vote on the issues.

Our tax levy rose more than $7.2 million dollars since 2002. We are taxed 40 percent higher, per person, in Carver County than our neighbors are in Scott County. That is just too high.

People cannot afford the property taxes. In fact, many of those who moved here recently are moving again. They are taxed out of the county.

And, who is representing us? District 5’s incumbent has the worst attendance record this year. He’s not at the board meetings, and he’s the chairman.

Just start attending county board meetings. You’ll see what I saw, a board that does not listen or hear the concerns of the citizens. They treat our concerns as if they are trivial.

We must change the direction of the board. People matter. Taxpayers matter.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

Overspending: We must question where the tax money goes. Instead of constantly raising taxes, we can use existing funds where they are needed. Only reasonable proposals should pass, with the pork eliminated.

We will save tax dollars by planning for development proactively. That means we will not have to go back and try to retro-fit needed roads, water lines, or other infrastructure into already completed developments. The infrastructure should have been planned and put into place long before the development of a neighborhood or business began.

We also need to help promote business development. Without that, homeowners will never be able to support the tax base required to build the needed infrastructure.

Highways 312 and 212: The expansion of these highways and the development they will bring to District 5 is another major issue.

We need to work very closely with the state on this project. The county must understand where the pressure will be on the county roads, and where upgrades will be needed.

It’s obvious that commuters will need to get to the new highway by one or more of the county corridors. So, we must aggressively plan where the business centers and retail will be placed along the corridor.

Businesses need exposure, as well as the ability to move products and services. Customers need to have easy access to these businesses. This takes proactive planning, not the reactive, often backward planning found in the current board.

Why should you be elected?

First, I will listen to the people. Those who live here are very intelligent and invested in our future. The people have insight and can resolve the issues facing the county.

Also, I won’t be afraid to ask tough questions and demand answers. In fact, I’ve already begun doing just that. I’ve asked the board the questions that our current commissioner didn’t, or wouldn’t.

Because of my questions, there’s an investigation into whether Carver County committed forgery, fraud, and theft. That investigation was turned over to Wright County.

I grew up and lived in Carver County my whole life. And, since both of my parents grew up here on farms, many of my early years were spent throwing hay bales, slopping pigs, and feeding the cows. I know agriculture is the heart of Carver County. I understand the people that live here and believe I can bring their interests and concerns to the county.

Fern Lindemeier, Norwood Young America

Why are you running for office?

Four years ago, I started my “education” in Carver County government. It’s been an experience.

One of my strongest areas is in financial management. I know how to find leaks in a spending plan. I think a better job can be done in managing taxpayers dollars.

I believe that, given the chance, I can do that. I have learned how to work with people and come up with solutions to problems.

I would like to find more ways to provide services for the citizens of our community without raising taxes.

Carver County has a reputation for having strong family values, a strong work ethic, and being conservative. I want these values to be reflected at all levels of our county government.

Having bachelor of arts and master’s degrees, I consider my education an asset to being a commissioner. I know how to ask questions to get information to make informed decisions.

I have experience as a volunteer financial consultant with Carver County.

The Lindemeier family has farmed, here in Carver County, for a long time. I know the challenges a farmer has. Having been raised in a city environment, I know what city life is all about. I want to bring both of these aspects to the Carver County board of commissioners.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

One major issue is our high taxes. Carver County’s taxes are 40 percent higher then our neighbor, Scott County. If all income to Carver County government were to cease tomorrow, our government could continue on for almost eight months more. That means our reserve is in the 70 percent range; most counties are lucky to be in the 35-40 percent range.

When Governor Pawlenty cut back funding to counties, Carver County cut back on services. That was not necessary. The reserve funds could have been used until the shortfall was made up. Those services that were eliminated have never been reinstated.

Property taxes could remain at 0 percent increase without hurting our government.

It is my belief that the board of commissioners have not had as tight a control on the way tax dollars are being used. Why were they taken by surprise when they were told there was a $3 million surplus in the budget? The board should be right on top of the use of tax dollars.

As a taxpayer, I want to know where my tax dollars are going, and how they are serving my community.

A concern I have is maintaining the agricultural base here in the Fifth District. Without food, we can’t exist. We have prime agricultural land here in Carver County. I want to see that maintained. This means careful planning in regard to allowing large housing developments into our community. They have their place, but not on prime farm land.

Why should you be elected?

As commissioner, I will bring to the table my conservative values.

My foremost question regarding the services provided by Carver County will be, “Is this a function of government?” Other questions will be, “Are we providing services that the private sector can do a better job of providing? Are there other ways for providing these services to the people?”

One director in Carver County mentioned using “faith-based organizations” in providing services for our citizens. This idea needs to be explored.

I want to work with other commissioners in making sure that we have roads that will service the increase in traffic, and be safe. I will see that there is better public transportation for seniors, and those people who need to be to work.

I believe that we can stretch tax dollars without cutting services, or raising taxes.

Mark Boecker, Belle Plaine

Why are you running for office?

The county news the last several years has read like a soap opera. My votes would be cast based on what is good for the people of Carver County, not on whose “team” I’m on. It’s time for a fresh face and new ideas.

What do you think are the two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

Growth: Some people want it, others don’t. What we must accept is, it will happen. The good news is, we can control the rate at which it happens. Our cities and townships need a vision of where they want to be in five, 10, and 20 years. I feel it is important for them to have the infrastructure in place ahead of time. When development dictates the need, the jobs are often rushed, and might not meet the current or future requirements. Let’s keep the horse in front of the cart, not vice-versa.

Jobs: Some of the smaller towns in the county have lost key industries in the past few years. We need to work hard at bringing good-paying jobs back into these communities. Local jobs would also take stress off of our county and state highways.

Why should you be elected?

Mark Boecker is a blue-collar guy with a white-collar education. I’m the “no signs” candidate that refuses to buy his way through the election. I am fiscally responsible with my money, and I will be the same way with your tax dollar. Most importantly, I don’t have an axe to grind with the county. District 5 deserves unbiased decision making. I will provide that.

I received my associate of arts degree at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, and a bachelor of arts degree in business education at Mankato State University. I am self-employed in our family business, Read Perennials, Inc. I am married to Rhonda Read-Boecker. We have three children, Jesse, 16; Katie, 15; and Jamie, 11.

Jim Ische, Norwood Young America

Why are you running for office?

I am interested in continuing to serve the citizens of Carver County. Serving on the local township board for 13 years, before being elected to the Carver County board of commissioners ,has given me a great deal of respect for local government. I am especially interested in county government, since the services directly impact the lives of so many people. In particular, I have a strong desire to continue supporting policies that allow growth around our cities, and mantain our agricultural character.

What do you think are the two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

Transportation is a high priority for me. We must continue funding public works to maximize maintenance programs such as snowplowing and blacktopping.

Last year, we bonded $10 million to enhance the road construction account. Nearly $4 million of these dollars related to the county’s share of the new Hwy. 212 project. Other funding was allocated to important projects such as the rebuilding of Co. Rd. 34 at Norwood Young America, and the reconstruction of Co. Rd. 10 through Laketown Township,

It is critical that we meet the difficult challenge of providing a safe and efficient transportation system for our citizens.

The second major issue is policing and public safety. The Carver County Sheriff’s Office provides police protection for 10 of our 11 cities, and all of our townships. I have supported this efficient system of providing public safety and will continue to support additional investments, which are necessary to provide adequate protection for our citizens.

Why should you be elected?

I would simply ask that you look at my experience in local government, and track record as a county commissioner. I have worked extremely hard to be prudent with our tax dollars, and would be honored to continue serving the citizes of the Fifth District.

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