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County Board candidates address issues – Part 2

With the special election for Mower County Board Commissioner – District 1 being held on Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Herald reached out to the seven candidates to get their responses to the following question: What in your opinion are the two biggest issues currently facing Mower County and, if elected, how would you address them?

Here are responses from candidates John Mueller, Arnie Johnson, Mark Lang and Ric Berg. Responses from candidates Tim Duren, Laura Helle and Michael Langstaff ran in the Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, issue of the Austin Daily Herald.

John Mueller

John Mueller

Some issues Mower County faces are reoccurring each year; however, this year we are facing some issues we haven’t seen before. Most issues facing Mower County are not unique to us, but how we handle them can be.

One long standing issue is that of road and bridge maintenance. With 400 miles of blacktop roads and nearly that number of bridges, there needs to be an ongoing plan for maintenance so our residents can travel to and from work, our students can be bussed to and from school, and to ensure farmers and manufacturers can move their products. This infrastructure is also important when recruiting new businesses and retaining existing businesses. If elected, I would work to continue a road and bridge maintenance program that would benefit Mower County residents, farmers and businesses.

A new issue is the role of the County in helping business during the on-going pandemic. While a few businesses have actually thrived, many more have struggled greatly. Our hospitality businesses, including food, beverage, hotel and entertainment, have been hit especially hard. There have been some programs to help businesses, but most are loans, many with the hope, but not certainty, of forgiveness. If elected, I would work with local business owners and managers to see if more can be done at the county level to help Mower County businesses recover.

About me: I was born here and my family lives here. I am retiring this month from a 30-year career in law enforcement, nearly 27 of which have been working for the residents of Austin.

I have more than 20 years of professional and community leadership experience, including 10 years on the Red Rock Township Board and 17 years on the Mower County Fair Board. I want to work with you to put my experience to work for you and I would appreciate your vote for District 1 Mower County Commissioner.

Arnie Johnson

Arne Johnson

I would like to see a sewage treatment facility north of Interstate 90 cooperatively serving County-Township and both cities and rural people who want to be hooked up, not forced.

I would also like to see that rural homesteads aren’t overregulated. They have more and more rules, regulations and laws to abide by and permits to pay for. That makes it harder to live outside of city limits because some just can’t afford it. It may be easier if they’re farming, but they keep increasing regulations on them too.

Thank you to the Mower County Sheriff’s Office and all volunteers getting meals out to all that are receiving them. Thank you all and God bless.

About me: My parents are Arnold O. Johnson and Norma B. (Opsahl) Johnson. I’ve lived in Mona, Iowa, Lyle and Mapleview, where I moved in 1969. I graduated from Austin High School in 1978. In 1976, I became ill with myasthenia gravis and was treated for colon cancer in 2008. I moved into my current home in 1991. In 2009, I became Mayor of Mapleview. I currently serve as vice president on the board of the Mower Council for the Handicapped.

Mark Lang

Mark Lang

I feel some of the issues our county faces right now include mental health and social services. I think as a county we need to find ways to do more to assist in mental health and social service programs. I also believe public safety and roads and bridges are a very important aspect of our county today. Ultimately the budget is a concern. I understand everything comes down to what is the cost and how much can we do… and with that I think it is time to think outside the box and look at all options. We need to do the most we can with the funds we have available without over taxing our residents as we are in tough financial times right now. People are struggling with shutdowns and we need to be mindful of that when it comes to what monies are spent and how they are spent. As a county we need to make sure we are working with our smaller communities and the City of Austin to support our small businesses. Small business is the backbone to many of our communities and provides income to many families. Supporting growth of new business and housing in our county is also important.

About me: I am a lifelong Austin/Mower County resident. My family and I currently own and operate several businesses in Austin and Mower County. I am a Police Sergeant in Blooming Prairie and have 22 years on the force. I was raised in a hardworking, business-oriented, and public service family. My father was a Mower County Commissioner years ago and I want to continue serving the citizens of our county. I believe it’s time for the younger business generation to become involved and do our part to continue to make Mower County a great place to reside and call home. I value what others have to say, the ideas they have, and always willing to take the time to talk to people and problem solve together.

Ric Berg

Ric Berg

Some of the issues I feel are important are balancing the budget and keeping taxes low. We need to take care of our businesses that are here and entice new businesses to come to our community.

About me: I was born in Austin and my wife Toni and I currently live in Brownsdale. We have four children and 11 grandchildren. I attended St. Augustine and graduated from Pacelli High School. After graduation, I attended community college for two years and then completed a carpentry class at the Vo Tech. I have owned and operated several businesses in this community: The Cavern Lounge, Margaritaville, Scotty’s Lawn Spraying Service, Thirsty’s, Born Free (Boys Ranch), Silver Bullet and Mickey’s. I retired from Delta Airlines after 21 years as an ESE (ground service). Throughout the years, I have also owned and managed several rentals throughout Austin. I worked with my wife, who owned Delta Cleaners. I’m currently working part-time with Palmer Bus Services. My family and I would greatly appreciate your vote.