Mueller looking forward to building on county successes

Published 8:22 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

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John Mueller, current board chair of the Mower County Board of Commissioners, has a rare story to tell in getting to the board.

During his four years as District 1 board member, Mueller essentially ran three times, winning first a special election in April of 2021 to fill the vacancy left by Tim Gabrielson, who had passed away. He then won the election the following year and had to run again when the districts were realigned.

“Hopefully, it meant that people were satisfied with what I was doing,” Mueller said.

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Mueller has filed to run again for his District 1 seat and will do so unopposed. He said that his reason for serving is to continue doing what he’s done for several years.

“I have spent most of my adult life serving the public,” he said. “I enjoy doing that. I enjoy seeing the results and being a part of the process. I want to continue that.”

Mueller’s initial time on the board came as the county, state, nation and world was still coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

However difficult it was, Mueller said he thought the work done by the board during that time was something to be proud of as it worked to allocate federal funding coming in to better support the county.

“The federal funds really gave us at the local level the opportunity to do things we wouldn’t be able to do without being a burden on taxpayers,” Mueller said. “We have put money into getting business to grow. It was a shot in the arm.”

That same dutiful dedication, Mueller said, applied to how the county handled being able to keep operating levy hikes relatively low last few years.

Being responsible this way has been something Mueller has worked hard for in his term as commissioner.

“I feel like we’ve been a good steward with the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said. “We’ve added good value growth in Mower County.”

An example of this that Mueller points to has been the tax abatement program. He admitted that he wasn’t a fan of them at first, but has since come around to realize the advantage the program has outweighed any concerns.

It’s part of the process of being able to ask questions and change ones mind when need be, he said.

“You have to look long term,” Mueller said. “I feel like we’ve done that as a board – looked at long term growth.”

He also said the county has made good decisions in helping in areas of staff shortages by promoting from inside and being creative in the hiring process. The jail has been a prime area of concern, but Mueller said that behind county leadership and that creative thinking, the county has been able to stabilize the jail staffing concerns.

Mueller added that it starts with those people in charge including county administration.

“I don’t think that happens by accident,” Mueller said.

Looking ahead, Mueller said he wants to make continued economic success a priority, especially within the agriculture industry.

“Here in Mower County, agriculture and the ag industry is our No. 1 industry,” he said. “Whether it’s the actual act of farming or the services or industries that support that. I would really like to see that continue.”

He would also like to see continued progress on reviewing and acting on existing ordinances as things come along and continue to make positive changes in that area as well as the continuation of supporting clean water efforts.

On top of that, is the effort in its earliest stages of working on a comprehensive plan for the county, something that’s done every 20 years or so. The county will be working alongside the city, who will be developing their own plan, however, with constituencies overlapping, Mueller said it’s important to work together.

Finally, Mueller said that none of his work would be possible without key supports in place.

“I have to give a shout out to family and friends and constituents and even those not in my district for their support,” he said. “I think it’s been a good experience. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a very rewarding experience.”