CANDIDATE SURVEY: Mower County Board of Commissioners (District 1)

Published 10:55 am Monday, November 3, 2008

Richard P. Cummings is stepping down after 32 years, representing Mower County Commissioner District No. 1.

He is the dean of the five county commissioners with more than 32 years of elective office experience.

Seeking to replace Cummings are Tim Gabrielson and Dan Vermilyea.

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Neither has held previous elective office experience before.

Here are their profiles:

Tim Gabrielson

Why are you seeking this office?

I have been asked many times in the last eight years to run for the County Commissioner job by many friends and neighbors since moving out of Austin to the county in Red Rock Township. I started attending the Commissioners’ meetings in August 2007 to see what was done at these open meetings. I quickly found out how many issues the board deals with and the responsibilities that go with the job. I feel I have the ability and business background to work with the commissioners in a productive manner to handle the many aspects of running the county.

What is the Number One issue in county government?

Completion of the Jail/Justice Center. This has to be done in a safe, fast and efficient manner to ensure that future delays and higher costs aren’t passed on to taxpayers.

Are elected officials keeping a tight lid on spending?

Yes, I think after attending most of the open commissioners meetings for the past 14 months and seeing and watching them handle all of the many requests for funding they get they are very tight with the county checkbook. They are actively looking for new ways to cut the costs that they are in control of.

What are your thoughts today on the new Mower County Jail and Justice Center project in downtown Austin? Jail size, build jail only, expand courts and court services at existing government center, etc.?

The location of the project is not my first choice but is what the majority of the people wanted and I’m okay with that. I have looked at the blueprints carefully many times and am very happy with the end results. We are being forced to build a new jail by the Department of Corrections. Our courts and court services need to be expanded because of lack of needed space and for better security. Also Human Services needs to be back in the Justice Center for the safety of its workers and would also be more cost efficient than renting space for them. With all of these needs put together it only makes good sense to build the jail and justice center and not just the jail alone.

Final remarks:

I have 25-plus years of business experience, and the ability to listen and communicate with people to address their problems. I have spent the last 14 months educating myself on the job of the commissioners. I know how they handle the many issues in a professional and responsible manner. If elected I will be able to step into the 1st District’s job and become an asset to the County and the Commissioners helping operate as safely, economically, and efficiently as possible.

Dan Vermilyea

Why are you running for office?

I am running to bring transparency back to county government decisions. Over the past few years there have been decisions made by local government that have effected each and every citizen of Mower County and some of those decisions have been made behind closed doors through deals, bargains and negotiations. When decisions are made in a transparent way its shows integrity, credibility and honesty, it also provides confidence in leadership and in today’s troubled economic world Mower County needs transparent leadership.

What is the Number one issue in county government?

The number one issue facing county government is the jail. With the state limiting the current facility to a 90 day site the housing of inmates is the number one issue.

Are elected officials keeping a tight lid on spending?

Given the current economic conditions of the country and the current price tag on the jail and justice center it would be fiscally irresponsible for Mower County to build the jail and justice center.

What are your thoughts today on the new Mower County Jail and Justice Center project in downtown Austin? Jail size, build jail only, expand courts and court services at existing government center, etc.

I have always advocated a stand alone jail at a green field site that can be expanded if and when the need arises. My biggest concern is the cost of the proposed facility.

The county coordinator has indicated that 60 percent of the cost of this project is for the jail. That total is approximately 22 million dollars leaving 14 million dollars for the justice center.

The architects have indicated that an office type facility costs $150 per square foot to build. A 50,000 square foot building would cost 7.5 million dollars and be capable of housing court services, human services and public health. The 36 million dollar price tag does not reflect the needs of the citizens of Mower County but the wishes of a select group of people.

Final Remarks:

The responsibility of county government is to provide services that fill the needs of its citizens. Its takes strong leadership and common sense to provide those services. I will bring those leadership skills and common sense thinking along with the ability to listen to everyday hard working people to arrive at solutions that best fill those needs.

That’s why I am asking for your support on November 4.

District No. 1

Mower County Commissioners are paid $24,200 annually.

They also receive reimbursement for official mileage and per diem for special meetings.

District No. 1 includes Lansing, Red Rock, Udolpho and Waltham townships, the cities of Mapleview, Brownsdale and Waltham and the 1st Ward 1st Precinct in northwest Austin.

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 4. Polling hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To register to vote, contact the Mower County Auditor-Treasurer office at the government center in downtown Austin.