First, it is easy to see that a lot of our friends and neighbors are going through some tough times right now and many of them need help. I am a huge advocate for mental health and well-being. I want to do everything possible to increase awareness of and access to mental healthcare in Siouxland. Secondly, through my research, I’ve determined that there seems to be unnecessary and unproductive turf wars between city councils and our county government. It stands to reason that two government bodies, living side-by-side with shared interests, would fare best if they worked together. I believe we are stronger when we work together. I want to strengthen these relationships and facilitate collaboration. And finally, I want to utilize my professional knowledge of construction, business and law enforcement to help oversee construction of the new LEC to be sure best practices are being followed, common sense decisions are being made and our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wisely.
I have personally experienced poverty in its truest form. Growing up, my parents separated when I was 4. My mother moved to Corpus Christi, Texas where she struggled to make ends meet. For a time during my annual summer visits, we were dependent on government social services including living in a low-income apartment complex and using food stamps to keep food in the refrigerator. From those visits I experienced firsthand what living in poverty means. From then on, I have been empathetic to folks who find themselves living under these conditions. Empathy is a very important value to have. I would support poverty simulation and/or diversity training for Supervisors, county employees and anyone else who is interested in attending. These two issues are very important and a better understanding of poverty and diversity is always good, especially when it comes to public officials and decision makers.
Proper and timely maintenance of our secondary roads throughout Woodbury County is important. This requires foresight and planning, an area where our current board could improve upon. Our secondary roads in Woodbury have been neglected over many years. Rather than spend the money to make minor repairs during that time, our board decided to redirect the money elsewhere. Now we are facing a desperate crisis to resurface many miles of our secondary roads to the tune of $10 million dollars. We must remember these are the same roads that buses use to transport our children to school, that our farmers use to deliver their crop and drive their equipment on in order to be efficient and productive, and the same roads that emergency services personnel use when responding to your calls for service. It is imperative that our secondary roads are properly maintained for the safety and well-being of rural residence. Around the clock work may be necessary in order to complete the project sooner.
My answer to this question varies and depends on the issue. If we consider mask mandates, traffic cameras and bans on single use plastic bags, I think these issues should be handled locally. What’s happening in Sioux City is often much different than what is happening in Climbing Hill or other smaller communities throughout Woodbury County. But if we consider something more broad like immigration enforcement and minimum wage, we should have a more uniformed approach and I have the tendency to believe that issues like these should be left to the state to control.
This is a difficult question to answer, especially for a newcomer. Most will agree that very few people want to pay taxes while nearly everyone wants the services. Largely it appears that our budget for county services has been cut to the max, but there may be some fat around the edges that could still be trimmed. If elected, I am committed to ensuring that our tax dollars are being spent wisely and responsibly, and that our county services and the money we spend on them is in line with the views of our residents.
This has been one of my main focuses since the beginning of our campaign. I have visited every single small and rural community throughout Woodbury County. I have spoken with residents there and many folks have voiced their opinions to me that they do, in fact, often feel second fiddle. I have also said from the beginning that I view this position as a loud voice for ALL Woodbury County residents and that, if elected, I will serve everyone equally to address the issues that are important them. I also believe it is important to meet folks where they live. I would like to see the Board revive the practice of rotating board meetings outside of Sioux City. And if the entire board won’t do it, I’ll arrange to meet with the public in our smaller communities myself.
Priority one as your supervisor, will be the budget and keeping property tax levies down. I have worked hard over the last 4 years to reduce the levy. I have worked to either eliminate or consolidate positions in the county, I have worked with other levels of government to reduce the county’s share of cost, and I have voted “no” to new spending. I have proven that I keep promises, and I am a good steward of taxpayer dollars.
Priority two is to encourage affordable housing development in Woodbury County. In order to do this, I have talked with Iowa Senators about expanding the workforce housing tax credit program. This program is vital to bring down the cost of new housing in our rural cities.
My third priority is a continued focus on economic development. Woodbury County faces some challenges with lack of willing sellers, lack of water treatment, and a lack of rural wastewater capacity. We could leverage our TIF dollars as well as Federal funds to overcome these challenges.
I never attended a poverty simulation, but had many moments in my life where I lived in poverty. There are quite a few people in Sioux City the I still consider friends that have worked low wage jobs with me. I have taken online diversity training courses, as well as a disability workshop.
Technically, we are not into year one yet, because we have been delayed by what I will call legal discussions. This delay is very frustrating to all of the board of supervisors. In the last four years we have added 3 new staff to road maintenance, as well as increase the secondary roads budget. The condition of our gravel roads has been a problem over 30 years in the making, and will require time and money to fix. Think of the sheer size of 800 miles, over 100 million square feet of gravel to be repaired. I would encourage anyone who has any questions as to how the project will be phased over the 5 year period to call the Engineer's office for the details. Patience will have to be required as this is one of the largest scale gravel road rebuilding projects the state has ever seen.
The role of a county supervisor is decided by Iowa code chapter 331.301. “ A county may, except as expressly limited by the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and if not inconsistent with the laws of the general assembly.” I believe that this makes sense in a state with 99 small counties to have uniform laws on behavior that follow the law of Iowa as well as Iowa’s constitution.
Due to the complexity of County levies, this is awfully difficult to quantify. Different land uses experience different growth and different state rollbacks. This past year we cut the levy .20/$1000, and residential and commercial saw reductions because their rollback factor was either level or decreased. Agricultural land values dropped, but the rollback level was increased, so even with a much lower levy, some saw increases. In the past, I have consolidated or eliminated positions throughout the county. With mental health, we expanded our region to share costs with more counties. This way we were able to fund all the new state mandates and secure critical providers, while minimizing tax risk.
I have worked hard to meet with rural citizens. I’ve been to almost every city council of Woodbury County at least once in the last four years. I’ve been to multiple rural county meetings, as well as Farm Bureau meetings, Moville’s Commercial Club, and even meeting with concerned land owners. I even go out to eat restaurants in the county from time to time to talk to people while I’m there. Ending the special bridge levy, adding additional road maintenance staff, helping with comprehensive planning, ATV licensing, 24 hour countywide paramedic service, Sergeant Bluff drainage planning, and the 5 year gravel road plan are all actions of the board has taken in response to concerns of rural citizens. I would also like to add that most rural residents have told me they live in the county for a reason, they like to be left alone, and that includes from the county government.