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Paul Anderson, incumbent Steve Hensley, challenger Arlan Kakac, challenger

Commissioner candidates state their case

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To help voters in Douglas County Commissioner District 4 make a more informed decision in the August 10 primary election, the Echo Press sent questionnaires to the candidates.


Three people are vying for the four-year commissioner term - incumbent Paul Anderson and challengers Steven Hensley and Arlan Kakac.

The two top vote-getters in the primary will appear on the ballot for the November 2 election.

Candidates were told to limit their response to the five questions to a total of 500 words. Here are their answers:

Paul Anderson

1. List your background/qualifications.

I have served as a Douglas County commissioner for 12 years and at the present time am serving as chairman of the board.

I was clerk/treasurer of Alexandria Township for 15 years and am presently chair of District 4 of the Association of Minnesota Counties and serve on the board of directors for that organization. Some of the other boards on which I am serving include Douglas County Hospital Board, Prime West Health Board, Douglas County Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board, West Central Area on Aging, Presently vice chair of the Central Minnesota Regional Radio Board and many other boards and committees.

I have served my church, Zion Lutheran, in many capacities. My working years consisted of 30 years managing a successful insurance agency.

2. What would you like to accomplish if you're elected; what are your goals/objectives?

I have several goals. My number-one goal is to keep a watchful eye on expenditures and lowering taxes. I plan to continue working on a long-range plan for Douglas County including growth, land use and money management.

I will work toward reducing the size of our county government, primarily through attrition and streamlining the delivery of services.

Collaborating with neighboring counties to reduce redundancy where possible, along with working to reduce unfunded state mandates, will be an issue.

Continuing our senior programs would be a priority as would scrutinizing our budget for unnecessary expenditures. I will do whatever is necessary to protect our natural resources by working with the lake associations of Douglas County.

3. What are your ideas for how the county can cut its budget? Be specific.

No bonding until our present bonding debt is reduced. In 2012, part of our debt will be paid, reducing our present bond payments by approximately $480,000 annually. No more capital improvements either by bonding or through reserves.

As I mentioned earlier, reducing the size of government through attrition. A couple of other ideas would be to establish a motor pool rather than each department maintaining its own fleet and also the possibility of a secretarial pool.

4. Is the county doing enough to protect our lakes? List specific ideas you have for addressing invasive exotic species, such as zebra mussels.

The Douglas County Lakes Association is doing a fantastic job of protecting our lakes; however there is always room for improvement. Education regarding invasive species should be expanded.

Possibility of volunteers posted at all public accesses to make sure boats are cleaned of the invasive creatures.

Also, materials could be promoted in classrooms, service clubs, restaurants, sportsmen organizations and service stations.

5. What makes you stand out from the other two candidates?

Primarily, experience, as noted in Question 1. As President Reagan stated in a debate in 1984 with Walter Mondale, and I paraphrase this quote, "I am not planning on using age as an issue in this campaign. I will not exploit my opponent's youth and inexperience."

In our present economic situation, this is not the time for change. I have the experience, I am fiscally conservative, I have the desire to serve and I have a deep passion to work with the good folks of Douglas County.

I would appreciate your support and vote on August 10 and November 2. Thank you.

Steven Hensley

1. List your background/qualifications.

I've been in the lakes area for almost seven years now. I started and publish a real estate magazine titled Welcome Home.

I enjoy an active role at my church, where I sing, usher and read the lessons. I have six siblings, ages 3 to 24.

I enjoy history and love writing; I've written a play about the Titanic.

Volunteering is important to me. I went to New Orleans after Katrina and take part in several local non-profits.

2. What would you like to accomplish if you're elected; what are your goals/objectives?

My personal opinion as an individual will take a backseat to logic and reason. If a proposal comes up and it benefits the county, I will support it.

My chief goal will be to represent the will of the people. I will serve in constant communication with those whom I represent.

I will change the idea that differences are irreconcilable; by collaborating and communicating with other officials, we will go far.

The biggest failure of the board has been stubbornness and lack of reason; that seriously needs to change. When needed, I will bring the board and the city council together; they should be partners, not enemies.

3. What are your ideas for how the county can cut its budget? Be specific.

Freezing salaries or telling each department to cut 10 percent of their budget is not the only answer. It's not just cut, cut, or spend, spend - it's spending wisely.

Let's stop building buildings we don't need. We can save lots of money by having long-term comprehensive plans.

The LEC should have stayed together. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars will be added to the budget because no plan was in place?

Look at what the lack of planning and cooperation got us with the jail. The county wasted money and they built a jail on a site that will soon be obsolete as we continue to grow.

You want to cut the budget? Then stop this silly spending and stop electing people who are fine with throwing our money around like Monopoly money.

4. Is the county doing enough to protect our lakes? List specific ideas you have for addressing invasive exotic species, such as zebra mussels.

It's the DNR's job to protect the lakes, not a bureaucratic board. The county didn't hurt the lakes; irresponsible boaters did. Zebra mussels can't go away.

What the commissioners need to do is provide the resources needed to let resource management and the DNR police the waters, as well as let them enforce rules to prevent the spread into the other lakes. Government is not the only answer; people need to be responsible, period.

5. What makes you stand out from the other two candidates?

My energy, my desire to listen to the people, and my understanding that cooperation is key to getting things done separates me from the pack.

The same old, same old is no longer acceptable. I will be here in 15-20 years, dealing with decisions that have and are being made. No one else in this race has a vested interest in our future like I do.

It's time for my generation to stand up and lead with the counsel of our elders. I will not worry about my next election. I will not aim for quotes in the paper. I will listen and I will represent.

Arlan Kakac

1. List your background/qualifications.

I am a lifelong resident of Douglas County, growing up on the family farm in Hudson Township and graduating from Jefferson High School.

I served three years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war as a medic.

I attended Willmar Junior College and transferred to Moorhead State College, earning a bachelor's degree in social work. In the past I have worked at Project New Hope as program director/social worker, and was elected as Douglas County commissioner in District 5.

I am currently employed as a sales associate at the Alexandria Walmart store.

2. What would you like to accomplish if you're elected; what are your goals/objectives?

As commissioners, we need to display unity within the system, provide accessibility and a willingness to listen to all constituents, and the knowledge to be proactive versus reactive on tough issues.

We need to ensure that all county departments work together with the board, with city governments, with townships, with school boards, and with other counties to research good information to make sound informed decisions.

I would also like to open a direct line of communication between all constituents and myself by directing all comments to either my new e-mail address which will be, at my home telephone number at (320) 762-1495, or by personal contact. Commissioners need all the input possible to make informed decisions.

3. What are your ideas for how the county can cut its budget? Be specific.

Ideas which I have heard from concerned residents include: Collaborating with city, township, and state governments for combined funding; evaluating duplication of services, bringing more under one entity; combining administrative costs and county services; reviewing all contracted services and consulting services; and reducing excessive spending on projects and services.

In addition to being strong in asking state elected officials for their support in funding for cities and counties, our county operations need to be as efficient and cost effective as they can possibly be in facing our economic conditions and state mandates.

4. Is the county doing enough to protect our lakes? List specific ideas you have for addressing invasive exotic species, such as zebra mussels.

It is critical that we protect and preserve our environment and natural resources such as our lakes and wetlands. These are valuable assets having huge economic impact on our county.

Wetlands are the filtering mechanism for our lakes and altering this system will have a profound effect on decreasing our water quality.

We need to work with the DNR and our lakes associations to better monitor and control invasive exotic species and toxic waste going into our water resources.

Our great chains of lakes in the area must be protected and preserved for people from everywhere to enjoy and continue to be attracted to our community and to invest in our economy to enjoy them.

We must inform, educate and enforce necessary procedures to prevent and contain anything that will contaminate our water resources

5. What makes you stand out from the other two candidates?

I will be a strong advocate for the residents of the county in effecting change and work hard to ensure the quality of service to our county.

I will encourage, listen, and respond to constituent's issues and needs. I will display good people skills, and be effective in getting things accomplished.

I ask for your support and vote to be District 4 commissioner.

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