Former mayor announces intent to run for seat on county board

February 18, 2008

Incumbent Russek also intends to file for the position

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Former Delano Mayor Jon Steinmetz announced his intent to run for a spot on the Wright County Board of Commissioners in this fall’s election.

The seat is currently held by Jack Russek, who represents District 3. The district includes Delano, Rockford, Waverly, Buffalo city precinct three, Franklin Township, Rockford Township, and Woodland Township.

Steinmetz said his decision to run stems from several years ago, seeing what he calls competitiveness throughout the county.

“I think you need to cooperate with cities,” Steinmetz said last week. “Townships, cities – everyone should get along.”

He feels the county should be more into strategic planning, and perhaps look at connecting various sewer systems together to create more efficiencies.

“The overall strategic planning for the county is very important,” he said. “It’s the county’s job to make sure everyone’s planning together and integrating together. It’s not that the board hasn’t done good things – I think the board has done good things, but now its time to reevaluate what they have.”

Steinmetz said an example of this is the county’s recycling plant, which he feels is something the county should “cut its losses on it, move ahead, and have better planning.”

“Now, they’ve mothballed it, and it’s still costing us money,” Steinmetz said. “You have all those issues that are out there. I like everybody to be happy, and have taxes to be equitable. When you look at that recycling plant that was built, that’s not equitable – it’s never been used, and we’re all still paying for it.”

Steinmetz said his goal in running for a spot on the county board is trying to improve government so it works for everyone.

“The problem is, you become so entrenched in policies, laws, and ordinances that you can never break out and do anything new,” Steinmetz said.

Steinmetz has been involved in politics for some time, being elected to a term on the Delano City Council in 2000. Two years later, he was elected mayor of Delano – a position he held for four years. In 2006, he again ran for a second term as mayor, and came in second in the vote totals behind Joe McDonald.

Steinmetz also is the president and founder of the Delano-Franklin Historical Society, and also sits on the city’s historical preservation committee. In the past, he has also served on the city’s park and recreation board. He is also a real estate broker, owning Jon Steinmetz Realty, located in downtown Delano.

He said that in being the mayor, he has a pretty good idea of what goes on in the city, and feels it’s not just the knowledge of the business the city does that is important, but also the knowledge of the infrastructure of the city.

“Look at St. Michael-Albertville,” Steinmetz said. “We shouldn’t have animosity over growth, but instead, should look at what we can do to work together to get the best product.”

“We pay a significant portion of taxes to the county,” he said. “That’s a huge concern of mine – what do we get for that.”

Steinmetz said he is announcing his intent to file several months before the filing period in order to be able to get out in front of people, understand what’s important to residents, and to give people the chance to ask questions.

“The early bird catches the worm,” Steinmetz said.

Reached last week, incumbent Russek said he is also planning on running again for the seat. Russek was first elected to the Wright County Board in 1992, and his current term expires Dec. 31, 2008. Prior to being elected to the county board, he also served on the Franklin Township Board.

As a board member, Russek serves on the following county committees: budget, capital improvement/finance, compost finance, county extension service, forfeited tax sales, Highway 55 Coalition, labor/management health insurance, planning and zoning, mental health advisory board, and union negotiations.

Russek was also appointed to the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) and the Mid-Minnesota Mississippi River Resource Conservation and Development joint powers boards. He also serves as the liaison to the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District board, and also sits on the Association of Minnesota Counties District Five board of directors.

The filing period for the Wright County Board of Commissioners opens Tuesday, July 1 and runs through Tuesday, July 15, according to Gloria Gooler of the Wright County Auditor/Treasurer’s Office. She also noted the Fourth of July holiday falls during the filing period.

In addition to the position presently served by Russek, a seat on the board presently served by Karla Heeter in district one will also be up for election this fall.

Heeter’s district encompasses the cities of Annandale and Clearwater, Buffalo city precincts one and two; and the townships of Chatham, Clearwater, Corinna, Maple Lake, and Silver Creek.

Delano City Council will also have two seats up for election this fall

Delano City Council seats presently held by Holly Schrupp and Marc Plese will also be up for election this fall.

Plese was appointed to fill the remainder of Joe McDonald’s term in January 2007 after McDonald was elected mayor in November 2006.

City Administrator Phil Kern said the filing period for city offices typically is in August.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail news@hjpub.com