Olmsted County Board incumbents stave off challenges

By Christina Killion Valdez

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

As change swept the nation in the presidential race, the Olmsted County Board held strong.

Incumbents Judy Ohly, Paul Wilson and Jim Bier all beat out challengers for their seats. Mike Podulke ran unopposed in reclaiming his spot in District 1 for a second term.

The reelection of all the board members shows a strong affirmation of the work of the board, said Wilson, a 14-year commissioner. Yet, he said, it is time for change.


That change, however, doesn’t need to come through a change in leadership, but rather by changing how things are done, he said.

Looking ahead to a statewide budget shortfall in the billions of dollars, Wilson said, it will have an impact on the county.

"We all know that there are things we believe in that we can’t do," he said.

And while the budget crisis will be something the board has to deal with for many years to come, Wilson stayed positive.

"There’s a new time before us," he said, noting changing demographics at home and in the world economy. "There are a lot of opportunities on the local level."

As the president of the Association of Minnesota Communities, Wilson said he wants to continue building the state-county relationship.

The relationship between the state budget shortfalls and the priorities of the county, however, is what Bier said he’ll be keeping his eye on in his third term.

"It’s going to be a tough year," Bier said.


Nevertheless, he said it was a good thing that the county board remained intact after the election.

"It shows our county board, at least, has been cognizant of what’s going on," he said. "And we’re aware of what needs to be done and what priorities need to be set."

"My priorities have been laid out for me," said Ohly noting that the budget is front and center.

At the same time, Ohly, who serves on nearly two dozen local committees and groups, will continue to work on a long list of projects. That includes fighting for clean water and air, improving Lake Shady, moving ahead with changes at Graham Park, finding homes for the homeless, and working on the county’s relationship with the state and local governments, she said.

As for the lack of change on the board, she said, "We’re all working hard to make positive changes."

Olmsted County Board

District 3

Paul F. Wilson, 4,177


Ann L. Haddorff, 2,091

District 5

Jim Bier, 4,713

Tom A. Tweite, 3,475

District 7

Judy Ohly, 6,556

Terry Throndson, 4,704

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