The seven candidates -- split across three districts -- for seats on the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners agree that a portion of the $19.1 million in federal coronavirus relief funds should be used to support nonprofit agencies.

“We are an arm of the state and are mandated to meet the needs of our most vulnerable people,” incumbent District 1 commissioner Stephanie Podulke said, pointing to nonprofits as a way of ensuring the work is done.

Her challenger, Robert “Bucky” Beeman, also the county has the responsibility to help the agencies that provide services to individuals in the community

“We, as a board, definitely have the responsibility to try to help these nonprofits get through this very difficult time, not only for the sake and healthiness of the nonprofit to last in our community for years to come, but also for the individuals who are getting services from these nonprofits,” he said.

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In Ward 5, which consists of a portion of western Rochester, along with Byron and the surrounding townships, the three candidates on the Aug, 11 primary ballot also see merits in supporting the nonprofits, but indicated differing levels may be preferred.

Incumbent Jim Bier noted county commissioners are planning to set aside at least $5 million of the $19.1 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for grants to businesses and nonprofits.

“That will not solve all their ills, but it will go a long way,” he said, adding that maintaining connection to several local nonprofits is the key to ensuring the county can continue providing services.

“If they were to fail, Olmsted County could not provide the services,” he said, adding that small businesses also will need support through the funding.

Challenger Brian Morgan said the nonprofit partnerships help the county achieve the maximum impact of funds spent for services.

“Where Olmsted County’s board has a responsibility, I think, is in making sure these organizations are able to continue providing those services,” he said, adding the goal should be to push for the maximum impact of CARES Act funds.

“We should be looking as well though at investing in the businesses that are still staying afloat to ensure we don’t see more closure and further unemployment to exacerbate this situation,” he added.

Ward 5 challenger Regina Mustafa sees supporting nonprofits as a priority for the $5 million in federal funding.

“We have local nonprofits who are working with our county already, and they are helping with mental health services, assisting the county in providing shelter and homes for our neighbors experiencing homelessness,” she said.

“We must continue to provide and to do our part to make sure that these nonprofit services, who are acting as an extension of county services, are able to survive and help our community,” she added

In District 7, incumbent Mark Thein said the support for nonprofits helps the county keep property taxes in check by providing services the county would otherwise be required to fully fund.

“Nonprofits are essential in both saving us tax dollars and in keeping our residents a vibrant and healthy part of our community,” he said, adding that he’s committed to making sure $1 million of the CARES Act funding is dedicated to helping nonprofits.

District 7 challenger Wale Elegbede said the nonprofits are critical to the services needed by county residents, and suggested the county needs to seek more federal funding to address concerns, adding that the $5 million planned to support businesses and nonprofits falls short.

“We need to advocate for more to make sure our county is able to quickly bounce back,” he said.

The candidates views were expressed in videos provided to the Post Bulletin. Full versions of videos are available online at https://www.postbulletin.com/tags/ELECTION_2020.