11 file for county seats

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Election season is under way, as 11 people filed affidavits of candidacy on the first day candidates could file for office in Mower County and across the state.

Mower County’s new jail and justice center appeared to still be a key topic of discussion. John Bramwell and Tony Bennett filed to run for county commissioner Tuesday, and both cited concerns about how the commissioners handled the jail and justice center project.

Bramwell filed to run against David Hillier in the 3rd District. Bramwell, 61, said he wants to correct what he called a disconnect between the taxpayers and elected officials.

“I’m concerned about some of the long and short term decisions that the county has made lately,” he said.

Bramwell said the county hasn’t been fiscally prudent concerning recent decisions, specifically the jail and justice center. He said the county needs to be wary of taxes, especially because the county has a what he called a declining tax base.

Bramwell previously served on the Soil and Water Conservation District board. He also served on a water district board while living in California.

Bramwell farms, and he owns Grumpy’s Classic, a business that restores antique vehicles.

Bennett filed Tuesday for the 4th District commissioner seat currently held by Dick Lang. His campaign will focus on fiscal responsibility and transparency.

Bennett was previously a spokesman for a group that collected more than a 1,000 signatures in the hopes of holding a referendum on the bonding for the jail and justice center.

Bennett, 39, said the county board didn’t properly inform the public of certain statistics when discussing the jail and justice center. Bennett hopes that future projects will be looked at differently, and he hopes information about the costs of the projects will be readily available.

Bennett said the commissioners will need to be more transparent and straight forward when discussing future projects, particularly the future of health and human services.

“I don’t think people are really up for another big building project for the county,” he said.

Hillier, 59, filed to seek re-election on Tuesday, and noted that the jail is about 80 percent complete. He said the county board was well informed before making any decisions concerning the jail.

Hillier, a farmer and businessman, said the budget will be one of the most important things commissioners deal with moving forward. Hillier said his knowledge of state mandates and optional programs would be valuable moving forward.

Dick Lang, who filed to seek re-election on Tuesday, said the Minnesota Department of Corrections gave the county a choice: build a new jail or close the old one.

Lang said he is pleased the jail and justice center is being built downtown, and he said the commissioners did a good job controlling the project’s costs.

“All the commissioners have done an excellent job of whittling that price down,” he said.

Keeping costs low will be another focus of Lang’s campaign for re-election. He said the commissioners need to be mindful of people’s taxes.

“People are just paying all they can pay,” he said.

Just a few months after winning the seat, Mike Ankeny filed to seek re-election as the 5th District commissioner. While Ankeny said it feels a little bit like starting over again, he said he’s learned a lot and is ready to continue serving as commissioner for a full term. Like Hillier, Ankeny said the future budget concerns are going to be the biggest issue in the election.

Sheriff Terese Amazi filed Tuesday to seek re-election, and she said the jail will be the key election issue. Amazi said her campaign goal will be to get the jail operating as smoothly as possible with the lowest possible number of staff.

Sgt. Jeff Ellis, who announced his candidacy in early May, also filed to run for sheriff on Tuesday.

Jill Cordes filed to run for county recorder. Cordes has served as chief deputy recorder under Sue Davis for about a decade.

County attorney Kristen Nelsen also filed for to retain her office. Doug Groh filed to seek re-election for auditor-treasurer. William Lonergan filed for re-election as the Soil and Water Supervisor from District 4.