County board incumbents file for re-election

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mike Ankeny

Mike Ankeny is looking to bring what he calls his common sense approach to the Mower County board for another four years.

Ankeny, MikeThe 5th District commissioner filed Tuesday to seek his second full term on the board. Ankeny was first elected in a special election in February of 2010 after Commissioner Dave Tollefson’s death. He ran unopposed and won re-election that November.

Looking back over his first stint on the board, Ankeny was proud of the work to merge health and human services before the department moved from space leased at Oak Park Mall to the Mower County Government Center.

Email newsletter signup

One of his goals has been to work with the city of Austin, and he said he feels the lines of communication have improved.

The city and county recently jointly purchased a machine for seal-coating roads, splitting the costs and sharing use of the machine as neither will use it all the time.

“I think it was a good opportunity to work together,” he said

To Ankeny, improving the community is a group effort for the county and city, along with groups like the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, Vision 2020, the Mower County Fair Board and more. Ankeny said the new grandstand unveiled at the Mower County Fairgrounds last year was an example of the county working together with the Hormel Foundation, which provided a $275,000 grant for the project.

While some on the county board have been hesitant with the idea of giving money to Vision 2020 projects, Ankeny said he prefers to take each project and request as it comes up to see if it will benefit the county.

“I’m willing to keep an open mind,” he said.

For Ankeny, it’s never been about one issue, it’s been about the right approach.

“A lot of it is just a common sense approach,” he said.

Ankeny praised the current board for bringing a vast set of ideas to the table.

“I think that we bring a lot to the table as far as being fiscally responsible,” Ankeny said.

Tony Bennett

Things are a little quieter for the Mower County board right now, and Tony Bennett sees that as a good thing.



Bennett filed to run for his second term in District 4 Tuesday. If he wins, he plans to continue a frugal approach and to continue with a goal of bringing the board back to basics after several big projects like the Mower County Jail and Justice Center.

Still, Bennett said it’s been an busy four years. He touted his accomplishments in his first term, specifically helping address retirees health insurance for county workers and commissioners, a move he said will save tax payers money down the road. Bennett was also pleased with the board’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which will help the plan budget and plan for road and bridge projects and equipment purchases. He was also happy with the decisions to merge the health and human services departments and to merge the environmental services and the highway departments to form Mower County Public Works.

“We did do some good things, I think,” he said.

Bennett promised to continue a frugal approach and his goal is to reduce taxes and spending. Each year, the board receives several requests to give funds to outside groups and agencies, and Bennett said it’s not the right approach for the board to start giving too freely now that the recession has eased.

The board also implemented a five-year, tiered plan to use reserves for property tax relief, something Bennett would like to see the board do again after its current plan is up.

Bennett, who grew up and has lived most of life on Austin’s East Side, first ran for commissioner in 2010 and defeated incumbent Dick Lang.

Bennett is the co-owner of Old 218, an embroidery and screen-printing business formerly called Robert’s Specialty Company.

Jerry Reinartz

Jerry Reinartz is looking to bring responsible business practices to the county board for four more years.



The 3rd District commissioner filed to seek his second term on the county board Tuesday. In 2010, Reinartz defeated longtime incumbent David Hillier.

To Reinartz, the public expects the board to run the county like a business, and he strives be responsible with taxpayer money.

“It is a business, the only thing is it’s taxpayer funded,” he said.

Reinartz said this board has met that standard.

“I think we had a good business-minded board,” he said.

But that’s not always easy, as Reinartz noted the county has faced several challenges during his first four years. In human services, the county faces many costly, state-mandated requirements. Still, Reinartz was pleased the county’s levy increases have been more modest in recent years — partially in thanks to the board’s use of reserves for property tax relief. The board increased its tax levy by 1 percent for 2014, but he wished they’d have been able to keep the levy flat at no increase.

He was also pleased the county was able to work with the Hormel Foundation to build the new grandstand at the Mower County Fairgrounds, which was unveiled last year. He was proud of the board’s work to merge departments like health and human services, which then moved from space leased at Oak Park to the Mower County Government Center.

Reinartz retired last year after about 35 years owning Reinartz Appraisals; before that he worked as a deputy county assessor for about 10 years. Reinartz first decided to run to bring new blood to the board, as he thought some people weren’t listening to the public when it came to spending money. The county also implemented its first five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which Reinartz said will better help the board budget road and bridge projects, as well as equipment replacements.