Editorial - Our choices for county board: Frank, AndersonVoters in Douglas County Commissioner District 2 have an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the county board – one that should help the commissioners work more closely and effectively with each other and the public.
Voters in Douglas County Commissioner District 2 have an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the county board – one that should help the commissioners work more closely and effectively with each other and the public.
Elroy Frank can do that. Frank has been a good leader and listener on the Alexandria City Council for 14 years. He’s shown a skilled ability to work with others, speak his mind openly and honestly, and make tough decisions based on what makes the most sense not just for today but also for years down the road.
Frank makes the valid point that the law enforcement center (LEC) should have been a joint venture between the county and the city. However, three commissioners (Norm Salto, Bev Bales and Jerry Johnson) voted to back out of the plan, citing concerns over the immediate cost. As a result, there will be two separate facilities for the sheriff and police departments, which will ultimately lead to higher costs for taxpayers.
Frank has worn many hats while serving the city, picking up expertise in budgeting, recreation, comprehensive planning, housing issues and building projects.
During his campaign, Frank said his priority is to bring unity and respect back to the county board. He said he’d listen to the residents of District 2 and bring their ideas back to county board work sessions so the board will have better public input before making major decisions.
One problem the board has been dealing with is trying to get the public more engaged in the process. Its meetings take place during the day when it’s hard for people to break away from work. Evening meetings are a possibility and Frank has also talked about setting up a hotline for people to call and leave messages about important issues, along with their contact information.
Norm Salto is the District 2 incumbent. It’s clear that he cares deeply about this area, which he served as sheriff back in the 1970s.
But we believe it’s time to bring at least one new voice to the county board and District 2 has a rare opportunity to elect someone with proven leadership skills and the foresight to position the county for the future: Elroy Frank.
The other contested position on the county board ballot is in District 4. Voters there have two highly qualified candidates to choose from – Paul Anderson, the incumbent, and challenger Arlan Kakac, who served on the board in District 5 from 1997 to 2003.
This could be a close race but we believe Paul Anderson deserves another term.
Anderson’s commitment to local government spans decades. He served 15 years as the clerk/treasurer of Alexandria Township and the last 12 years as commissioner.
His involvement in several key board and committees give him a well-rounded view of the county’s challenges and opportunities. He’s served on the Association of Minnesota counties, Douglas County Hospital, PrimeWest Health, and West Central Area on Aging, to name a few. That experience should not be dismissed lightly.
Anderson brings a bluntly honest view to the board that often cuts through the rhetoric to get to the point: How much will it cost taxpayers? He realizes the board can do a better of managing its budget and keeping taxes low. He grades the board a “C” in that area, noting that the board could keep capital expenditures down by working more effectively together and with other governmental agencies, such as with the city on the LEC project.
Anderson took a tumble while working on a window outside his home a few weeks ago and was hospitalized. He’s back on his feet now – there was no permanent damage – and he still has the “vim and vigor” to get the job done. He even offered an apology to his constituents for not being able to visit with every one of them as he typically does during his campaign.
Kakac is a likeable candidate who has a knack for identifying problems and connecting with constituents.
Anderson, however, has those same kind of traits, along with a solid background in the key issues facing the county today and a proven track record for protecting taxpayers’ long-term interests. Anderson still has some work to do – and deserves District 4’s support on November 2.