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County board candidates respond to questions

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Voters in Douglas County Commissioner District 5 will have a decision to make on August 12.

Three candidates – Elroy Frank, Owen Miller and Chuck Nettestad – are vying for the four-year position currently held by Dan Olson, who is not running for re-election.

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The two top vote-getters in the primary will be on the ballot for the November 4 general election.

The Echo Press sent questionnaires to the candidates who were asked to limit their responses to the five questions to a total of 500 words. Following are their responses:

ELROY FRANK

1. What are your qualifications and background for the commissioner position?

I have the ability to listen to the people of our community on what they have to say and their input on issues. I have been a resident of the Alexandria/Douglas County area for over 30 years, married to Loiann for 28 years, currently president of Shalom Lutheran Church of Alexandria and been very active in other parts of the community. Served 14 years on Alexandria City Council, taking part in many committees, Budget Committee, Planning Commission, Liquor Committee, Lakes Area Recreation board president, Legislation Committee, and Runestone Community Center Board as board chair.

2. Why did you decide to run for commissioner?

I want to put an end to open checkbook spending, to protect your tax dollars, and to provide accountability to all county departments, to be able to have a voice as a commissioner of Douglas County to represent the voters of the city of Alexandria and Douglas County.

3. What issues would you make a priority as commissioner in the next four years?

We need policies that will encourage growth and prioritize the basics: quality roads, safe lakes and responsible spending; control taxes and spending, to be able to manage our spending like it’s a personal account and be accountable to the voters; build a working relationship with other governed bodies within Douglas County.

4. Describe your leadership style and your ability to work with others.

I’m able to listen to every voice and able to make an informed decision in the best interest of us the taxpayers of Douglas County. Working with others is the most important, as this is a team effort.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the county.

To be able to eliminate duplications of services within the county and being able to work smart and spend wisely.

OWEN MILLER

1. What are your qualifications and background for the commissioner position?

My experience as a qualified leader has been through service in:

Community – past president/chair of Jaycees, church, Boy Scouts, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bicentennial, VA Clinic Dedication and Renaming, Welcome Home for Troops; committee member of Chamber of Commerce, Sesquicentennial, charter member AABA, chair Beyond the Yellow Ribbon-Douglas County-Alexandria.

Government – city council president pro-tem, chair of West Central Initiative Board, Local Government Coordination Committee, member Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, DC Office of Emergency Management, Economic Development District, past member of DC Regional Planning Board, League of Minnesota Cities Conference Planning.

Business – past owner/president of three corporations, charter president of Glacial Ridge Life Underwriters, New York Life agent for 50 years.

2. Why did you decide to run for commissioner?

With the support of my family and encouragement of others, it is time for me to serve the residents and businesses of Douglas County. It is my desire to be instrumental in the continued growth of Douglas County as a regional center in health care, manufacturing, education and a multitude of other services within sound economic principles.

3. What issues would you make a priority as commissioner in the next four years?

Because of my experiences in working with various state, county and local government entities and organizations, I see where there is a potential to work together to pool resources, thereby reducing taxes and operating in a more efficient manner.

4. Describe your leadership style and your ability to work with others.

When an issue arises, I research the subject, look for advice from experts in that field and share the information with others so that we can proceed with the project together. I proposed an early retirement package for the employees of the city of Alexandria. The end result was a substantial savings in payroll costs and brought about implementation of technological advancements.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the county.

My budget-saving ideas for the county include a joint powers agreement between the county, cities, townships and the school district for an equipment pool to reduce duplication of equipment, thereby reducing budget costs, resulting in lower taxes. There is also a need for a countywide economic development commission to draw businesses to all parts of our county in order to provide jobs, education and economic growth.

CHUCK NETTESTAD

1. What are your qualifications and background for the commissioner position?

I feel that my education, training, and work experience have helped prepare me to effectively serve as your commissioner. For 31 years I was a law enforcement officer, with 20 of those years as chief of Alexandria Police Department. I am a graduate of Bemidji State University, FBI National Academy, Blandin Leadership Program, Alexandria Leadership Program, BSA Wood Badge Leadership Program, West Central Leadership Academy and other assorted trainings.

2. Why did you decide to run for commissioner?

I felt that it was the right thing for me to do. I care deeply about our community and have been actively involved in a number of volunteer efforts to create a safer, better community for all our citizens. I have been encouraging other people to get involved and engaged in the political process and felt that I should also “step up to the plate” and give it my best effort.

3. What issues would you make a priority as commissioner in the next four years?

I would focus my efforts on:

Keeping Douglas County economically strong.

Keeping taxes as low as reasonably possible.

Strategic planning for projected area growth.

Protecting our environment.

Being a strong positive voice for all the people of our county.

4. Describe your leadership style and your ability to work with others.

No one leadership style fits for all situations, but my basic leadership style is to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others to develop a consensus on issues we face.

My ability to work with others has been demonstrated by the following efforts:

Past president of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

Co-founder and president of the local United Communities Advocating Non-Violence Inc. Committee. This is a diverse group of local citizens who focus their efforts on creating awareness and education on domestic violence; 15 years.

Past chair and current member of Douglas County Triad Committee; first statewide president of Minnesota Triad and advisory member of National Association of Triad Inc. This group works to keep senior citizens safe from scams and quality of life issues.

As the past chair of the local Salvation Army Service Unit, I started the Christmas Bell Ringing Program in Alexandria.

Instrumental in developing a seven-county regional Child Abduction Task Force.

Troop 412 Scoutmaster 15 years; Silver Beaver Award.

5. Share at least two budget-saving ideas for the county.

I believe there are a variety of ways to creatively improve the efficiency of our county spending. Some ideas that could or should be given consideration include: work cooperatively with other counties to combine departmental offices; eliminating multiple places to get building permits (one stop shopping); centralizing staff for various departments; centralized purchasing; creating an out of home placement review panel to ensure that all placements are time limited; leasing of the vehicle fleet. These are just a few things that come to mind as possible ways to improve the efficiency in governmental spending.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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