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Meet the County candidates

7 to run for District 1 County Commission in special primary, election

Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part article on the candidates who have filed to run for the Mower County Board of Commissioners District 1 seat. The second will be featured on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Seven candidates filed to run for Mower County Commissioner for District 1 during the filing period from Dec. 2-11. The seat was made vacant with the death of Comm. Tim Gabrielson, who passed away in November the week after winning re-election to a fourth term.

The candidates who have filed to run are Ric Berg, Tim Duren, Laura Helle, Arnie Johnson, Mark Lang, Michael Langstaff and John Mueller.

For this feature, candidates Ric Berg, Tim Duren, Mark Lang and Michael Langstaff will tell you about themselves in their own words.

Ric Berg

Ric Berg

I was born in Austin, Minnesota, and my wife Toni and I currently live in Brownsdale. We purchased Our Lady of Loretto Church and are currently remodeling it to make it our home. We have four children and 11 grandchildren.

I attended St. Augustine/Pacelli. After graduation, I attended Riverland Community College for two years and completed the Carpentry course.

I have owned and operated many businesses over the years, including The Cavern, Alcove, Margaritaville, Scotty’s Lawn Service, Thirsty’s, Silver Bullet and Mickey’s. During this time, I also worked as an ESE (ground service) with Northwest (Delta) Airlines. I retired after 21 years. I also owned and managed several rentals within Austin. I worked with my wife, who owned Delta Cleaners, and I now work part-time with Palmer Bus Services.

Becoming county commissioner is something I have always wanted to do. My family and I would greatly appreciate your vote.

Tim Duren

Tim Duren

I was born in Austin and Cathy and I raised our family here. We currently reside in Red Rock Township. My wife and I graduated from Pacelli High School in 1976. I am currently on the Pastor’s Cabinet at Bethlehem Free Methodist Church. I’m a former Austin Chamber ambassador, former Austin Country Club board member and past member of the Austin Freedom Fest Committee.

I am the current sales manager at Games People Play in Austin and the owner/operator of Duren Concessions at the Minnesota State Fair. I owned Duren Outdoor Advertising for 10 years and am the former owner of Austin Extra Storage. I also ran and operated AMCAT Bus Service for Austin and Mower County.

As your county commissioner, I will work for you to provide quality public service in a cost effective manner. Now is the time for a fresh new voice with new ideas.

My goal is to be very active in the county and city to let people know who their commissioner is. I want people to know me on a first name basis when attending meetings in these small towns and to help them any way I can. I will take phone calls at any time. It is about staying involved with the people who have questions and concerns. I will be the ears and the voice for you at the commissioner meetings.

Thank you for your support; I would appreciate your vote.

Mark Lang

Mark Lang

I was born and raised in Austin and have been a Mower county resident for 40 years. I have been a Blooming Prairie police officer for 22 years and am currently a police sergeant. My wife Kelly and I currently own several businesses in Austin and Mower County. Those businesses include Mark Lang Construction in Mower County, Bobee Jo’s Bar, AB Taxi, Hotel Boarding and Bubbles & Bows Pet Salon, all in Austin, and The Creek Bar and Grill in Rose Creek.

I am running for county commissioner because I believe it is time for the next generation of business owners and the younger generation to get involved when and where they can.

As the owner/manager of several businesses, I understand budgets, payroll and operations. I have been involved with public service and public-related industries from the very beginning.

I understand the importance of rural living and agriculture. I am currently involved in agriculture on a small scale with my family. I also understand the importance of our economy, industry,

and the aspects of the city.

I believe there is no single path to reach a goal. I feel it is important to communicate effectively, listen and place value on what others have to say (or others points of view), and to think

outside the box when necessary to achieve a goal.

I am running for county commissioner because Mower County is where I have chosen to call my home my entire life. It’s a great place to live, work, and enjoy.

Michael Langstaff

Michael Langstaff

Michael Langstaff was raised right here in Mower County, born in 1963. He attended the local schools of Southgate and Lansing Elementary Schools, Ellis Middle School and Austin High School.   

Michael’s devotion to the small town started to take shape in 2002. Raising three kids and being a homeowner in the small community, he recognized the City of Mapleview needed help. He first ran as a write-in candidate for Mapleview City Council in 2002. He did not win the first election, but the process taught him how to run for the seat. He successfully secured his seat in 2004 and continues to hold his seat to this day.

Seeing he could still do more for the community, he joined the Mapleview Fire Department in 2005. He was elected fire chief in 2010. Michael has persistently written grants; the Mapleview Fire Department was recently awarded a FEMA grant to purchase 10 sets of new SCBA’s replacing the department’s 25-year-old SCBA’s. In February 2020, he acquired a 1992 Pierce Fire Truck, replacing the 1954 LaFrance Fire Truck. It was paid with gambling tax funds that he managed to save for seven years. Continuing his values of community growth, he wanted to and successfully paid for the truck without using any Mapleview City funds.

Being a Fire Chief does not limit his responsibilities to the management of the department. Michael also organizes community events that are long-standing traditions in Mapleview. This includes the Fourth of July Parade, Halloween Parade, and Santa’s visit.

As before, Michael is still seeing more opportunities within the community. As county commissioner, Michael would continue to push his values of putting the people of the community first while helping things run smoothly throughout Mower County.