Commissioner Q&A: Young candidate Williams would hold state accountable

Published 3:25 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

Commissioner Q&A: James Williams, Running for Commissioner District 1


Q. Why are you best qualified to represent Mower County as a county commissioner?

A. I am most likely not the most qualified. I do however feel I am likely to be the most consistent in working to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on Mower County residents and employers.

I feel that many of the regulations and programs imposed on the residents of Mower County are at best counterproductive to their cause and often encourage waste.

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Q. What would be your main goals if elected?

A. To reduce the burden on the Mower County taxpayer, homeowner, employer and employee.


Q. The county recently learned it will receive about $400,000 less in County Program Aid from the state in 2013. What kind of specific cuts or changes would you support to address this and other state aid shifts? What do you consider too important to cut?

A. I feel it is important that that the counties of Minnesota start holding the state accountable for the mandates that they impose on local governments. It is my fear that because the state has proven to be incapable of living up to its obligations and maintaining a balanced budget the decreases in County Program Aid are likely to continue. Commissioners must work with other counties and ask for reduction in state mandates.


Q. The county is one of the six remaining in the once 12-county Southeast Minnesota Human Services Redesign project. The project would lead to merging human services in the remaining counties, which previous studies said could result in staffing reductions. Would you support the merger, and how would you handle the potential effects to staff? And how would you expect the merger to affect taxpayers?

A. At this time I am hesitant to support this merger without seeing more substantial evidence of very significant reductions in the cost of human services to Mower County. I think that we would risk loosing significant control over the human services program, which would likely lead to increases in the cost to Mower County in the long run. I am not against consolidation and staffing reductions were possible. However I would not be likely to support any type consolidation were Mower County would be beholden to other counties.


Q. A structural engineer recently deemed the grandstand at the Mower County Fair unsafe for use. Would you support fixing the grandstand, rebuilding the grandstand or continuing to rent temporary bleachers? Rebuilding or repairing the grandstand could cost more than $500,000. Renting bleachers each year would cost $7,000 to $10,000 a year.

A. I would absolutely not support rebuilding or repairing the Mower County Fairgrounds grandstand if the cost was anywhere near $500,000. Mower county can rent a grandstand for $10,000 dollars a year for 50 years before the grandstand would have payed for itself at a cost of $500,000. That isn’t even taking into consideration the the cost of maintenance and insurance the new grandstand would require over the next 50 years. Now it is true that we could attempt to bring non-fair related events to the grandstand as a source of additional revenue but I feel this would require a lot of ambition on the part of the county and feel it would be unlikely to do much more then offset the cost of maintaining a grandstand. I conclude that in a time of such extreme economic uncertainty it would be irresponsible to further burden the the citizens and employers of Mower County with a poor investment like this.