Aug. 28, 2006

Primary features 4-way race for Meeker commissioner

By Lynda Jensen

The political season for 2006 is underway with candidates lined up for the Sept. 12 primary.

Several county commissioner seats will be filled by local voters this year, three in Meeker County and one in Wright County.

In Meeker, seats open include:

• Hugh Wagner of Watkins in District 4, who represents the township and City of Kingston.

There is a four-way race in place for District 4, with Wagner refiling, and being challenged by Brenda Carlson of Watkins, George Ruhland of Eden Valley, and Wally Strand of Kimball.

Lia Nistler of Watkins dropped out of the running, although her name will still appear on the ballot.

• County Commissioner Amy Wilde of Dassel in District 3, who represents the City of Dassel, Dassel Township and the townships of Ellsworth and Collinwood.

Wilde refiled, and is being challenged by Rokala of Dassel.

• Dave Gabrielson of Litchfield in District 2, who represents the City of Darwin, Darwin Township and the Litchfield area.

Gabrielson refiled, and is being challenged by Dan Walberg of Litchfield.

In the fall election, big races on the horizon appear to be in Meeker County, with Mark Shoutz of Dassel challenging incumbent Mike Hirman of Litchfield, and Carl Rokala of Dassel filing against incumbent Amy Wilde of Dassel for Meeker County commissioner.

There is also a race set for the seat to be vacated by State Rep. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), who plans to run for a judgeship.

All the area state representatives and state senate positions will be open, including positions served by State Sen. Steve Dille and State Rep. Dean Urdahl.

Wright County Sheriff Gary Miller will run unopposed.

The following are profiles of the Meeker County District 4 commissioner candidates:

Wallace M. Strand

Why are you running for office?

My name is Wallace M. Stand; I was born Dec. 10, 1936 in Wright County, South Side Township. I’ve been married 49 years to my wife, Jan. We have two sons, one daughter, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

I have been the Kingston Township supervisor for 15 years, and chairman of the board for 10 years. For six years now, I have been the Kingston Township representative for the Kimball Fire Board.

I am seeking this elected position as Meeker County Fourth District Commissioner to offer my expertise in government and business background.

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

We need more industries in Meeker County. Having been on the Kingston Township board for 15 years, I have seen the eastern side of Meeker County expanding with increasing population. I have worked with people, while in business and in management, and also while serving on the Kingston Township board. I have proven I can work with people to accomplish the end goals.

I am qualified for this position with serving 15 years on Kingston Township board, with 10 of those years as chairman of the board. I also have 15 years on the Meeker County Fair board, with seven of those years serving on the executive board. I was also president of the fairboard for two years. I have 33 years in business and management experience working at Unisys; 23 of those years were spent in management and budgeting.

I see the eastern edge of Meeker County growing. We need to attract and expand new business within Meeker County.

Why should you be elected?

I will develop and maintain effective working relationships with the people of the fourth district, and all departments of Meeker County government.

It is very important to listen to the needs of the people and serve in the best interest of the people.

I see roads as an issue. Realizing there is only so much money available to make road improvements, we need to use our tax dollars wisely and use federal money when available.

Hugh Wagner

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for office because I want to serve and give back to my community; and want to continue to help my constituents work toward positive growth and progress in Meeker County.

This is an exciting time in our county’s population and economic growth. We have challenges, but with continued good governance and fiscal responsibility, it will be interesting and rewarding for the citizens of Meeker County and the fourth district.

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

As the county moves into the budget process later in August and early in September, issues including fuel increases, health care costs, and interest rate increases are all concerns.

These issues also are concerns to individual taxpayers. In this vein, we need to keep our tax levy down, and still provide core county services such as: public health, social services, planning and zoning, treasurer and auditor’s office, court system, assessor office, public safety sector, and highway construction and maintenance.

Another issue is addressing our residential growth, and still maintaining our animal and agriculture focus. We have ordered a moratorium on conservation subdivisions at the request of the county’s planning and zoning board. There will be hearings on this during the next six months.

Why should you be elected?

The experiences I’ve gained these past 5 1/2 years are invaluable in moving Meeker County in a positive direction.

The fourth district is experiencing population growth. With the completion of Hwy. 23 to St. Cloud and to the west, we should see some more economic growth.

The Hwy. 15 project, although it is many years from implementation, should benefit the eastern area of District 4.

I have a positive attitude for the future. I ask the voters of the fourth district, “Why change?”

Your vote and support would be greatly appreciated, vote Sept. 12.

Brenda Carlson

Why are you running for office?

I very much enjoy living in Meeker County, you cannot find nicer people than you can right here in this area.

I am running for office because I want to help preserve the precious gift of community that we experience in Meeker County. I want to be a part of the movement to attract new business to our area, while maintaining the integrity of our small town communities and area farms.

I want to see our economic base continue to grow and diversify so that our quality of life is maintained and improved.

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

Any and all issues are important, some are just more important to some people than to others.

Whatever the issue, whether it is ditches and watersheds or smoking bans; each decision needs to be impartially based on what is best for the area and the people affected by the decision. Each decision needs to be reviewed for all available options, and the decision based on what is right.

Why should you be elected?

I have more than 18 years of management experience and providing quality service to customers; I now want to do the same for my neighbors and community by representing them as the fourth district Meeker County commissioner.

I can make the tough decisions that are needed in our community to ensure that the right decisions are made for the right reasons.

George Ruhland

Why are you running for office?

After 30 years of doing business in private industry, I would like to return some of my time in public service.

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

Residential growth being incorporated to the agricultural business, which is the number one business in Meeker County.

Resolve: Review the zoning laws to protect prime farm land.

Maintaining a balanced budget.

Resolve: I know that this is a complex issue, but each department needs to be held accountable for expenditures, wage increases, and inflationary costs.

Why should you be elected?

My 30 years of business experience and serving nine years on the hospital board, along with development projects in Eden Valley and various public service, I feel I am most qualified to handle the many, varied duties a commissioner has.Lia Nistler

Due to recent, personal circumstances, Lia Nistler has withdrawn from the highly contested Fourth District Meeker County Commissioner race.

According to Barb Loch, Meeker County Auditor, the ballots have been printed for the primary election and Nistler’s name will remain on the ballot.

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