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Woodbury County Supervisor District 5

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  • Rocky De Witt
    (Rep)

  • Patty Erickson-Puttmann 
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

If elected, what are your top three priorities?

Have you ever attended a Poverty Simulation Workshop or Diversity Training? Would you consider asking that such training be held for the Supervisors and other Woodbury County employees? Please explain your position.

In October of 2019, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors set $10 million in funding to place thicker gravel on nearly 800 miles of gravel roads across the county over the next 5 years. One year into this 5-year plan, frustrated rural citizens still face the same issues associated with living and working on poorly maintained gravel roads. How will you accelerate improvements to rural roads to show our rural citizens that their issues are taken seriously by the board?

There is concern about the the state taking control away from local governments on issues such as minimum wage, mask mandates, immigration enforcement, traffic cameras, bans on single-use plastic bags. Please share your thoughts on local control vs state control.

What Woodbury County services, if any, should or could be cut before raising taxes?

How will you gain the trust of rural citizens who currently feel they are not represented and that their issues are largely ignored by the Board?

Campaign Phone (712) 490-0595
Contact Email dewittlawton@live.com
Obviously we all want to keep taxes as low as possible without the loss of necessary services, and I believe we have done that: streamlined departments, cut costs, and even added services to various departments. My other two priorities are to finish the new LEC (Law Enforcement Center/jail) under or at budget, and to see to it that our secondary roads (graveled roads) are brought up to standards. These are, in my opinion, two of the most important items that have been neglected now for 3 decades.
I have not personally attended such training. The County is unique in that the Board of Supervisors are elected as well as four others: Sheriff, County Attorney, Auditor and Treasurer. Each of the four have autonomy over their offices and I would believe they should have the right to determine the best course of action for their particular needs and skill sets within. As to training for the balance of the County employees, I would want to be involved with our HR department in finding/implementing the best choice in curriculum.
Sadly, at the moment we are at a standstill due to a lawsuit with the Sgt. Bluff School District, in that they feel that they alone should reap the benefits of CF Industries tax revenues to the County. This is extremely frustrating to the Board as we felt we had planned on the best course of action, benefitting most of the County's rural residents as well as emergency services and school busses. Safety is obviously a priority and so is the commerce of ag related cartage. We are in the middle of legal wrangling now to finally move forward with this much-needed and long overdue process
I understand that there should be a certain level of local control. It is frustrating to me that some state legislators preach of local control and home rule, only to get to Des Moines and have a change of heart. I do believe that there should be a certain level of uniformity across the state regarding several issues such as parks, roads and other interconnected issues. However, some local control should be expected and practiced by the counties and actually protected by the state, though it seems to be a constant struggle to find it. In short, the state passes laws and are coded. A county may pass on ordinance that is only county-wide in enforcement.
I would consider cutting funding to any department that we are not required to fund by the state of Iowa. I would need clear and convincing information that we could make do without the services before cutting funding.
I grew up on a farm in rural Woodbury County. I have seen first-hand how many services were and are handled such as law enforcement and secondary roads. There will always be a feeling of being "forgotten" or "left out" and that is a problem when 80% of the residents live in Sioux City. I have been out to several town hall meetings, city council meetings and visited or traveled roads that are in need of repair while visiting with rural residents on-site. I have answered every call or returned calls when I was unable to answer. I believe that most rural residents know, or at least feel like their concerns are tended to.
1. Restore and assure fiscal stability for mental health services, On July 1, 2019, Woodbury County joined Rolling Hills Community Services Region and immediately raised the Mental Health levy from $28.50 per capita to $33.63. The increase represented “buy in” costs of $1,000,000 to join Rolling Hills. More importantly, the rates reflected cuts in services provided under the $28.50 rate. On July 1, 2020, the Mental Healthy levy was increased again to $37.66 to provide for Woodbury County share of services in the Rolling Hills Region plus a remaining buy in balance of $170,395. The $28.50 levy would have been increased to $30.49 but would have retained all services. Figures provided through Dennis Butler, Woodbury County Budget Analyst. 2. Assuring equitable services for mental health and disability needs. 3. Assuring structural integrity of Woodbury County Courthouse. I will assure honesty, integrity and common sense to taxpayers rather than multiple instances of "small mistakes"
No, I have not attended either but yes I would support. In working with various families and individuals it was necessary to understand their backgrounds and their culture to communicate honestly and resolve problems or create solutions. The old saying of walking in another's shoes often provides insight and understanding. Selection of presenters assuring quality training content will be critical to success.
The $10 million amount earmarked for the road improvements was to be taken out of the proceeds generated by the increase in revenue provided by the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district associated with CF Industries construction and operations. Unfortunately, the Sgt. Bluff School District filed a lawsuit against Woodbury County claiming the use of those funds for gravel roads was not in compliance with requirements for TIF expenditures. Until that lawsuit is resolved there is not another source of funds available for this fiscal year to initiate improvements. I would explore the possibility of tapping reserves to go forward with the project with repayment when funds are available through the TIF process. Agricultural operations have changed immensely with larger machinery and gross weight of grain transport. The gravel roads no longer provide a one tractor one grain cart operation. Machinery sizes and hauling weight capacities require solid bases to assure safety in transport.
“Home Rule” is a concept that was supposed to provide local control for counties for any items not specifically addressed by Code. Home Rule has been eroded over the past several years and the concept is rarely enforced or utilized in a concerted effort to stop state control of items that should be determined locally. Board members need to have a presence in Des Moines, strong relationships with local legislators and participation in organizations such as the Iowa State Associations of Counties (ISAC) to be in front of actions rather than just waiting to see if questionable legislation to county interests progresses through the legislative process.
I do not feel qualified to respond with specifics. Wages and benefits normally comprise approximately 90% of costs of operations so any significant reduction would require elimination of positions. I do not have any “targeted” departments and all operations should be reviewed during the annual budgeting process to determine potential for streamlining processes or reduction in force.
The face of agriculture has changed tremendously in the past several years and small family farms are virtually nonexistent. Large operations for beef, pork and grain are the new norm with track driven machinery and semis for hauling. The Board needs to consider visiting agricultural operations or organizations just as they do with City Councils. Doing so would promote communication and exchange of concerns, ideas or input for solutions. Agricultural operations are invaluable to the economy and need to be recognized as such.