James Williams – MC Board of Commissioners, District 1

Published 11:10 am Friday, November 4, 2016

Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Mower County Board of Commissioners. In District 1, incumbent Tim Gabrielson is looking to hold off newcomer James Williams. Two familiar faces return in District 2, as Polly Glynn looks to win a second term by defeating Ray Tucker, who she ousted by 61 votes in 2012 after he’d served 16 years on the board.



James Williams

James Williams, 33, is looking to oust incumbent Tim Gabrielson. He works various farm and excavation jobs  and was inspired to run after the county passed the Austin Housing Initiative.

Q: Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Mower County board?

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A: I am running to get and keep Mower County out of the business of picking our communities economic winners and losers. I view the passage of the Mower County Tax Abatement Policy and the True County Assessment model as unjust and ill advised. These are both examples of a shift of tax burden and I aim to oppose similar mistakes in the future.
Q: Tell us about your past experience.

A: I am currently on my second term as a township supervisor for Red Rock Township.

Q: What do you believe will make you a good board member?

A: I am not afraid to take unpopular positions when it is necessary in order to stand up for what is right. I have always had a knack for looking at issues from an alternate perspective and an ability to bring unintended consequences to light. I honestly want what is best for everyone and I am willing to fight for it.

Q: Describe how you would approach and consider issues on the board?

A: Any action that the board takes must be equitable for all members of our community. To a large degree our county would be better served by staying uninvolved in most issues. This is especially true when it comes to issues of economic development.

Q: Mower County has long faced shortfalls in transportation funding and has a half-cent sales tax for roads set to take effect in 2018. How would you like to best address road concerns?

A: Rural counties must organize with one another to put additional pressure on the state to adequately fund our transportation infrastructure as well as other unfunded mandates. Ultimately if the state continues to neglect their responsibilities we will have to raise the funding locally. This would set a very painful precedent. We in rural Minnesota must make it clear that we can no longer afford to send our money to St. Paul only to have to grovel to get it back.

Q: Describe your approach to discussing and weighing budget, funding and spending issues as they come up.

A: If it is not absolutely necessary, don’t do it. If it is absolutely necessary do it as efficiently as possible. Keep in mind that as time goes forward nearly everything gets more costly. Avoid the pitfalls of “free lunch” proposals such as Tax Increment Financing and Property Tax Abatements because despite the many claims to the contrary they do add to the expenses that the county must budget for.

Q: What things do you think can be done to improve the county?

A: Vision 2020 could be dismantled and most of its proposals should be ignored. We need to encourage the Hormel Foundation to spend more money on the necessities of the community and less on projects that requiring ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

Q: What other issues would you like to see addressed by the board and why?

A: It would be easy for me to respond to all these questions with exclamations of all the wonderful things I intend the county to do and exclude the negative impact those things may have. What is infinitely more difficult to do is explain why many of the “progressive” proposals end up being counterproductive and those explanations will take a lot more than the “150 words or less” that I am allotted here. If elected I can be counted on to closely scrutinize any and all proposals brought in front of the board.

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

A: To a large degree my hobbies are the same as my occupation. I like to read blogs and columns, listen to audio books and podcasts.  I love being outdoors.

Q: What would we find you doing on a typical Friday night?

A: Most likely sleeping. If not that then discussing and solving the world’s problems with friends, often in someone’s garage, pole shed or around a fire.