The primaries are Tuesday and several candidates have filed for Dakota County Commissioner on each side of the aisle– nine Republicans and four Democrats, to be exact.
Registered Republicans will vote for two Republican candidates while registered Democrats will vote for two Democratic candidates to send to the General Election in November. From the four chosen candidates, everyone will get to vote in November for two people to replace current Commissioners Scott Love and Bill Rohde, neither of whom chose to refile.
Campaign signs are all over the county, but without a debate, it can be hard to know how to vote. Last week, the Star sent out a questionnaire to every candidate in an effort to make that decision a little easier. The questions were:
1. Why are you running?
2. What do you hope to accomplish?
3. Why do you feel you are qualified?
4. What is the biggest issue facing our county and how will you help solve it?
Read on to see how each candidate responded.
1. To keep taxes from going higher and for ensure proper road maintenance.
2. Better county roads and bridges.
3. I have 45 years experience as a construction business owner.
4. Spending is the biggest issue and going through the proper bid process for construction projects. The fix is smarter spending and applying the competitive bid process to perhaps lessen the cost of projects.
- Larry Albenesius
1. I love where I live. I have lived in Dakota County, Nebraska, all my life. I believe we all have a responsibility to care for our home and citizens here in Dakota County.
2. I believe the most important job of a commissioner is spending the taxpayer’s money, “your hard earned money” that you pay in taxes. Your hard earned tax dollars should be spent effectively and efficiently for all to benefit, not just certain ones.
3. I have worked hard all my life in my business and my farm. The only agenda I have is to treat everyone on an equal basis regardless of age, gender, race or social standing.
4. I believe the biggest issue is how our tax dollars are spent. If I have the honor to be elected by the hard working tax payers of Dakota County, I will work together with the other commissioners in taking appropriate action to spend your tax dollars effectively, efficiently and responsibly, including social concerns and issues.
- Lue Franco
1. I worked with my grandfather at his accounting office, with my father in various business ventures, and now manage multiple successful businesses myself. I am aware of the County’s financial situation, have reviewed the budget, and wish to use my experience to help improve the County’s financial situation.
2. As a Dakota County resident, I am extremely concerned about the County’s financial situation and I will apply my business management experience to try to help the County rebuild a savings for future needs while still improving services to taxpayers.
3. I have spent some time at the Board meetings and talked to Board members to help me understand the Board’s procedures, and I have extensive business and financial experience.
4. At this time, I believe the County’s financial situation is the biggest issue that must be addressed immediately.
- Randy Groetken
1. Running for commissioner is to meet one goal: stop spending. We need to reverse the direction of our county’s habits from spending to saving. Given our decreased revenue from past resources, this presents a challenge. Yet, thinking carefully, planning for the future, making well thought out and researched decisions, we can turn this around.
2. First, cut costs. Renting the LEC (Law Enforcement Center) for $37,000 a month yet with empty rooms must stop. Other cost-savings include combining departments. Meanwhile, work toward effective communication with the county assessor. Who are the top ten businesses and farmers? How close are they to paying their property taxes on time? We then can project our future and work toward financial stability.
3. Attending commissioner meetings, talking to farmers, businesses and homeowners, I stay informed. I realized that property taxes can go down, not up. If businesses, agriculture, and homeowners pay equally—1/3 for each—cash flow is improved. Yet, talking to various elected officials, we find inequity. Some commercial property owners are not paying their fair share.
4. Working together, everyone paying their fair share, using our vast amount of resources, we can turn the negative into the positive. We can not only cut taxes, but meet the many challenges ahead. First, work with the LEC to reduce the monthly payment. Second, property taxes paid by business, farmers, and residents become equitable. We then can we meet the demands for the present as well as the future.
- Ron Hartnett
1. I thought that I would offer my past experience and services to the citizens of Dakota County. I have the time to devote to the needs of the county.
2. I hope to improve the finance situation, that is to discover new ways to provide services to the citizens without a large increase in property taxes.
3. I have served a term on the county board, three terms as mayor of South Sioux City, and two terms as city council member. I have served on many state boards and committees.
4. The biggest issue is holding down the property tax levy.
- Bill McLarty
1. I am running to try and fix the roads and bridges in Dakota County.
2. I hope to accomplish the infrastructure of buildings, roads, and power supplies needed for the operations of our county.
3. I feel I am qualified because I have been in the construction business for 40 years.
4. I feel the biggest problem facing our county is the high taxes and the shortage of funds to do the things we need to do.
- Dennis Harris
1. To be a voice for the communities; to help build a better future for Dakota County and the great state of Nebraska; to promote economic and industrial development in our county. I recognize the value of all people in our county and honor diverse perspectives.
2. I intend to listen, learn and understand how the county budget works. I will put in the time it takes to research and talk to community members to better understand issues facing our county. I hope to bring new eyes and a new perspective to the table working towards balancing our budget and economic growth.
3. I am a business owner, farmer and family man who has an interest in Dakota County. I understand the burdens of the residents as I am one. I strive to find ways to conduct business efficiently and to eliminate waste. I am a smart, no-nonsense, hardworking man and will combine foresight with grit and determination to bring economic growth to our county.
4. The county budget is in trouble– the monthly expenses exceed the monthly revenue, and we need to work together to figure out how to bring in more revenue for the county and eliminate non-essential expenses. The rural communities in this county are not dots on a map, but an entire network of people that we need to connect with for the common goal of economic strength.
- Greg Utech
1. I have lived in Northeast Nebraska for most of my life and in Dakota County for over 25 years. Most of my education was also attained near Dakota County. I graduated from Walthill Public Schools, earned my Bachelor’s degree in Agri-Business and Economics from Morningside College, and my MBA from Wayne State. I would like to give back by serving as a County Commissioner.
2. I would like to use my education and experience to provide input into budget processes and explore creative ways to provide quality county services in collaboration with other county partners. I also have an interest in getting involved in economic and workforce development projects.
3. I have worked in Finance, Education, and Workforce Development for most of my career and feel this background would allow me to be effective as a County Commissioner. I have served on the Homer School Board and know the challenges of public budgets while delivering quality education. I also served on Homer’s HIWAY Board for over 10 years.
4. One of our biggest issues is finances. Managing costs and increasing revenues can improve finances. First and foremost is the importance of being fiscally conservative and finding ways to “do more with less”. Also, evaluating opportunities to increase revenues is key. Business growth is an opportunity for revenue growth. These actions combined will increase overall county prosperity.
- Janet Gill
1. I have considered running for some time. I feel with the existing knowledge from existing county board members I would be a great candidate for the county tax payers.
2. I want to keep the budget balanced and to keep the county roads in good shape.
3. I am a lifelong resident of Dakota County. With my experience as a heavy equipment operator and construction, I feel I can be a benefit to the county and save money.
4. The biggest issue with Dakota County is obviously the budget. Unfortunately with the government and state entities in a financial crunch, the counties are the ones suffering the most. Also looking forward with the sheriff's department on building and bringing back federal inmates to help cash flow the jail budget.
- Jasper Kriens
1. The two guys that are stepping down were kind of in charge over the county road department. Myself working for the road department now five and a half years, I thought since the public has been voicing their concerns to me directly over these years and my response was to call “your” commissioner that I should step up and take my turn!
2. To channel our tax dollars to the most needed projects, to work together with our other commissioners to solve county issues, and be a sounding board for the Dakota County residents.
3. I have worked in the road department, as I said, over five years fixing machinery, fixing/replacing road signs, driving gravel trucks, doing maintenance on our county deputies' police vehicles and have worked well with all involved.
4. I’m a third generation farmer/county taxpayer and my one son works for Dakota County maintaining our roads, also! We are loyal to our home here and are working to make it a better place for all residents of our county. My biggest issue is I hope out of the people running, that they truly have our county's best interest at heart, also… code red on that!
- Kevin Chambers
1. I am running for Commissioner because of the love and desire I have to serve my community. I also saw the opportunity to have a more diverse board that better represents the different cultures that make up Dakota County.
2. As Commissioner I hope to increase community presence at meetings and improve the county’s financial position by formulating a plan that meets Dakota County needs.
3. I am a lifelong resident of South Sioux City and feel I am in tune with the needs of the community. As a wife and mother I will vote with families in mind and ensure that every decision made benefits all residents.
4. The biggest issue that needs addressed is the county’s decreased budget. We need to ensure that every department has the financial resources needed to provide the best services to the community. I also see a need to protect and be fiscally responsible with taxpayer's dollars.
- Maira Tripp
1. To help improve county roads
2. I would like to lower taxes.
3. I worked for the road department for almost 25 years.
4. I would like the county to stop so much spending and I am not in favor of 287(g).
- Richard McNear
1. Our county needs some common sense management strategies and I feel I am a person that can make a difference in decisions going forward.
2. I hope to give the citizens of this county more bang for their buck when it comes to how our tax dollars are used. The county needs strong leadership to make improvements to the infrastructure, yet stay financially solvent.
3. As owner of Troy's Auto World, I have over 30 years of business experience in Dakota County. Owning a business gives me greater insight into how to manage money and employees. I was a Homer school board member for 10 years, serving as President part of that time. Employment as a school bus driver also gave me a dose of reality when it comes to our county gravel roads.
4. Management of our county budget is the biggest issue in my opinion. As a self-employed business owner, I pride myself in giving my customers value for their hard earned dollar. As a commissioner, I will take the same pride in giving the taxpayer the best value for their hard earned tax dollar.
- Troy Launsby