Election 2022: Mower County Board of Commissioners
The candidates for the Mower County Board of Commissioners make their pitches to voters ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
AUSTIN — Voters in Mower County Districts 3 and 4 will be casting votes for the Mower County Board of Commissioners this November. Jerry Reinartz and Jason Duffy are running to represent District 3, which covers the rural areas in Austin, Windom, Lyle and Nevada townships. For District 4 voters on the east side of Austin, Jeff Baldus and Dan Sparks are on the ballot. Candidates shared with the Post Bulletin why they are running for office and what their priorities will be if elected to office.
Here are the candidates running for the Mower County Board of Commissioners District 3 and 4:
District 3: Jason Duffy
Occupation: Owner, Duffy's BP.
Education: Associate's degree, Riverland Community College.
Why are you running for office? Provide positive impact for Mower County with new ideas. With the experience from the Mower County Fair Board, which I’ve been a director.
What are the three most important issues to you as a candidate? Taxes, environmental, public health. With those three I hope to help residents of Mower County in a cost-effective manner. Try to make Mower County a destinations for people want to have small businesses.
District 3: Jerry Reinartz (incumbent)
Occupation: Mower County Commissioner, retired appraiser.
Education: Riverland Community College, University of Minnesota.
Why are you running for office? I am running for re-election as the District 3 Mower County Commissioner. I am honored to serve in this position and am very familiar with the responsibilities of the position and functions of all county departments. I am also very familiar with the entire county.
What are the three most important issues to you as a candidate? Mower County is an agricultural and agribusiness based economy. We have over 400 miles of blacktop county-maintained roads that are essential for getting these products to market so keeping them safe and maintained is a priority. The same for our nearly 400 bridges and culverts on these roads. A commissioner's main duty is to listen to the citizen's concerns and to provide the services they expect and need while keeping our budget and tax levy as low as possible. These past few years have been a major challenge with COVID and high inflation. Despite all of that the county board despite our own increasing costs was able to trim our budget requests to 0.5% increase in 2021. In 2022 our budget increase was a little over 2%. We have just set our 2023 preliminary budget at 2.1%. We hope to find more ways to reduce it even more by December when we have to set our final budget according to state law. We cannot raise the budget between now and December by law but we can lower it from the 2.1%. This county board and our administration, department heads and employees are very aware of the financial burdens people are facing with this 40-year-high inflation and are dedicated to keep the county share of real estate taxes as low as possible. Thank you District 3 for your past and hopefully continued support.
District 4: Jeff Baldus (incumbent)
Occupation: Mower County Commissioner.
Education: Answer not provided.
Why are you running for office? I am running to give back to the community I love and to the county I was born and raised in, and raised my family in. I have been active on many local boards and in volunteer positions including KSMQ board member, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Austin ArtWorks steering committee member, Paint the Town Pink, 1st Farmers & Merchants Bank board member, board chair of Mower County CEO program (“creating entrepreneurial opportunities”), treasurer of Cedar City Cemetery. Through my position with the county I am on the Austin Library board, Austin/Mower County Home Ownership Fund board, Family Connections and several other county and statewide boards.
What are the three most important issues to you as a candidate? I am running because Mower County will be facing some very difficult economic and financial challenges with inflation on the rise, rising interest rates, and the damage COVID-19 created for local government. I have 32 years of business experience and this experience helps ensure that your taxpayers’ dollars are being used in the best possible way so that wasteful spending does not occur and our tax levy is not increased unnecessarily. I continue to use my past business experiences in leadership, finance, and teamwork, to work with other community leaders to keep our local economy strong and healthy. As state and federal funding to counties are being cut, it’s more important than ever we elect experienced and qualified candidates to serve Mower County to help ensure the county stays on track financially while offering outstanding services to our citizens.
District 4: Dan Sparks
Occupation: Health and life insurance producer.
Education: University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Why are you running for office? I will be a strong and efficient leader at the local level. As a county commissioner I will put my experience and proven leadership to good use. I have established a strong working relationship with government leaders at the local, state and federal levels which I will use to benefit my family, friends and neighbors — people I have grown up with while living my entire life here in Austin. I know I can make a difference in the district. My background as a laborer at the Hormel plant, as a county road construction worker and most recently as a local businessman provides me keen insight into the needs of local residents in all walks of life. I know I can deliver results, because I will always put people before politics.
What are the three most important issues to you as a candidate?
- Hold the line on taxes.
- Deliver essential services in the most efficient manner.
- Fight for fair and full funding from the state for Mower County. I will be a strong voice for our district on all issues.
Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022. Find voting information at www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/ . Candidates' responses have been edited for clarity and Post Bulletin news style.