County Commissioner - District 3 Candidate: Bev Bales (Incumbent)
Q: Please list your background and specific qualifications for this position.
A: I was born and raised on a farm in Barnesville and went to Assumption Grade School, Barnesville High School and to North Dakota State College of Science.
I was employed by IBM Corporation for 16 years. My duties were in administration and personnel. I was also a national instructor for IBM, the first female instructor in IBM's field engineering division, conducting classes in 20 major cities.
For 27 years, I was a successful small business owner/operator. I am widowed and have one daughter, Becky. She is division director for corrections in Stearns County. Becky's husband, Adam, is an engineer at Alexandria Industries. They have two sons, Drew, 6, and Collin, 3.
My experience being a grandmother, growing up on a farm, working in the corporate world, running a small business, in addition to township and county government experience, gives me a great background to continue serving as county commissioner.
Q: What do you view as the biggest challenge facing the county right now and how would you deal with it?
A: I think one of the major challenges may be to convince citizens how important county government is to them. Some may not know what a county budget includes or serves. They need to know counties are entities of the state and are at their mercy. It becomes a major issue as how to provide all the services of a growing county while keeping expenses down.
It becomes a huge challenge for townships, counties and cities to keep up with the needs of the people with the Legislature cutting homestead credit for 95 percent of the people, raising their taxes, with the constant unfunded mandates by the state and the program aid that is constantly cut.
It is difficult to plan and budget when the rules keep changing. We discuss new issues with technology and its cost at every board meeting. Every department has issues with budget pressures and inflation.
Q: Would you say the current board has shown commitment and follow through on current projects, for example the law enforcement and services center and courtroom remodel? What would your strategy be to further progress?
A: The law enforcement center is close to being totally remodeled. I believe that it will be an improvement that everyone will appreciate. It has been controversial at nearly every step of the way, but my main goal has been to keep the court and law enforcement together and save many dollars. I still believe that this has been wise. If you compare alternative plans, this has been a considerable cost savings and changes for real future needs.
Q: Is there anything more the county can do to combat aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels? Share other thoughts about protecting water quality.
A: Douglas County has led the state in invasive species control. We are a test county trying a product that kills the zebra mussels. The signage at public accesses has made folks more aware of protecting our lakes from aquatic species. So many issues with water pollution are not visible. Mussels are so visible, and their control is controversial. We must stay alert to all pollution to protect our lake area resources.
Q: County commissioners have recently opened communication with the Alexandria City Council. What would you contribute to this partnership?
A: The question is directed at the city of Alexandria and Douglas County. I would first like to say that I have always had open communication with the townships and cities in my district. Their needs are well known by me, and their budget issues are of real concern to me.
There has been ongoing discussion as Alexandria has acquired township areas, highway jurisdiction has changed, licensure or code discussion has been necessary. All levels of government compete with each other for programs and tax dollars. There are often turf issues.
However, meetings between city and county are an excellent way to see where we agree and disagree and are necessary for good decision-making. They are helpful to see where we can save taxpayer dollars.
I have opened up lots of conversation with other counties through the committees I serve on statewide and will continue to see what we can do together, be it a city or township or other county, for the good of all.