Q and A – Carver County Commissioner District 4
1) Why do you want to serve as County Commissioner for District 4? (100 words)
Frank Long: I disagree with the current county commissioners’ idea of what government should provide for services and infrastructure, their priorities, and their mindset that they represent the county, not the taxpayers. The only way to stop the growth in spending from out pacing growth in population is to change the people who keep making the same type of decisions. I will work to keep necessary infrastructure costs low, and determine whether spending on nonessential infrastructure is necessary during this time of economic stress. I will focus on reducing regulations to give relief to homeowners, existing business and attract new business.
Tim Lynch: I am running for County Commissioner because I feel a responsibility to serve my neighbors across the county. I try to use common sense leadership and accountability to the voter as I make decisions and will continue to do so! I have worked to bring a high level of accountability, integrity, honesty, and transparency to my service and believe that is what residents expect from their leaders. I want to continue the work we have started that has resulted in positive growth in Carver County even in this adverse economy.
2) When it comes to the county budget, are there programs or services that should receive less funding? Are there ones that should receive more funding? In what cases would you support a tax increase? (250 words)
Long: There have been departments created that, with the housing crash, and the sudden stop in the rapid expansion that was taking place prior to 2007, could very well be rolled back into the departments they came from. This would reduce some administrative management positions and should mean a reduction in personnel and salaries, a common practice in business to cut spending. This type of consolidation would necessarily eliminate and shift budgets and funding to service the needs of some larger, less specialized, and expectedly more fiscally efficient departments. To name individual departments publicly, without a comprehensive study by paid staff, with oversight by an engaged commissioner board would be irresponsible.
I would never “support” a tax increase. If we don’t begin to work to attract new business by becoming more hospitable with our regulations and fee schedules, growth won’t happen. As existing businesses leave or fall to market forces and excessive taxation, we will lose commercial tax base, the “cash cow” of government. It could become possible that I would be forced to vote for a tax increase to maintain basic services and infrastructure, and meet our bond and debt service obligations. But in no way could that be called support, more like required action to avoid financial liabilities imposed by previous shortsighted policies. But not if we act by voting to replace the current commissioners from districts 1,3,4 and 5 on Nov. 6. The county can reverse the course of gouging business to supporting business, promoting growth and jobs.
Lynch: We have been really creative in the last eight years in finding ways to deliver on our promise to residents of great service at a minimum cost. We have lowered our own salaries to show that we are serious about that; we are collaborating with cities so that we can mutually take advantage of shared services when possible. We have worked hard to wring the cost of government out of the process when we can. I am dedicated to lowering the tax burden on my neighbors around the county, because I know I owe them my best effort. I think that one of the most critical areas for Carver County to concentrate on as we move forward is transportation. Transportation is the critical link between commercial and residential growth and we want to be sure that we are thinking ahead on infrastructural needs.
3) What ideas do you have to help promote business and job growth in Carver County? (250 words)
Long: As previously stated, a reduction in regulations, as well as ordinances that are not based on health hazards, public safety issues or encroachment on the property rights of others would show a pro-business atmosphere. By appointing business people to the board of adjustments, a more business friendly attitude toward expansion and growth could be fostered and would also show our honest intent to promote a business friendly environment. A reduction in our permitting and fee costs as well as reduction of the tax levy as an perpetual objective would attract and retain commercial and industrial business that might very well find Wright, McLeod and Sibley counties current lower cost to build and operate, and their lower property taxes a much more intelligent choice for location and expansion. Uneven enforcement and access is legendary in Carver County, we will not attract any business if they can’t count on a fair and consistent playing field. It is not only what you can do, but also what you stop doing to businesses in Carver County that will improve our business climate. It is important to bear in mind that farming is a large segment of business in Carver County and was also affected by the shift of the tax burden in 2009 from single family homes onto commercial/agriculture. A reduction in the tax levy would benefit farmers also. This country was founded on contract law and property rights and will guide my philosophy when dealing with every issue brought before me.
Lynch: Growth in Carver County covers many entities, and because of that I think that a greater connection between the county and municipalities and townships will encourage and foster new residential and commercial growth. We need to work as a team to remove the red tape and hurdles that exist sometimes and encourage commercial and residential activity.
4) What is the most pressing issue in Carver County? If elected, how would you address it? (250 words)
Long: Accountability and accessibility affect every single issue to every single voter. If you can’t attend a meeting without taking off time from work, and your commissioner doesn’t get back to you in a timely manner or at all, then you are not being served. There is a history of uneven representation and enforcement based on personal relationships in Carver County, it’s time to stop that. Property rights belong to all of us. I also propose to end staff briefings of less than three commissioners to avoid legally required record keeping. Asking questions of staff to inform yourself is one thing; a systematic program to explain your packet, instead of an independent first impression isn’t my idea of doing your job. I also propose to video all meetings at which commissioners are present. It may be very informative to see if our commissioners can or will ask insightful or probing questions of the county staff. Competency should be a requirement we can observe. Possibly the most important component of my plan to provide accessibility is to move commissioner board meetings to a regular time at night to ensure access so those who need or choose to attend, can, without hardship being imposed on them.
Most pressing, maybe not, but without access and accountability, the issues that each and every one of us find important cannot be effectively addressed, that is not what I expect of the representative style of government we elect, and I will work to change that.
Lynch: The most pressing need in Carver County is to preserve the positive tax climate that we have and to focus on strengthening our infrastructure. Carver County has seen positive residential and commercial growth in an adverse economic downturn and that is in part I think to an understanding at the county level that growth comes as a result of lower taxes and a well developed road network.
5) What makes you the best candidate to serve District 4? (100 words)
Long: As someone who has had to make hard decisions based on a finite money supply, I will bring a different philosophy to the Commissioner Board. Government is supposed to provide an environment in which citizens can prosper. Not increase government revenue at the expense of the disposable income of the taxpayers. I have run private sector businesses for the last 20 years, I know how to prioritize, adjust budgets, and wait for capital expenditures until it makes sense. Wouldn’t it be great if government did that? I can and will move us in that direction.
Lynch: I have made it a point to be open and accountable to the residents of Carver County. I am honest and make sure that I am always considering the resident when I cast a vote. I spend a great deal of time attending various events in Carver County and I always listen to what the resident is telling me instead of me telling them what I think they need. I am not about partisan politics and want to serve with integrity because that is what people expect.
6) Please tell us about your background and/or experience. (100 words)
Long: I’ve dealt with government at different levels at different times throughout my life, be it through increasing regulations from watershed districts, as a landscape/shoreline contractor, to dealing with state and federal regulations across the country cleaning up underground spills during the 1980s. My involvement in the Republican Party from the precinct, congressional district to state levels, has built a network of contacts that will provide access to lawmakers and a capability of partnering with other County Commissioner Boards to work to remove some of the state mandates and restrictions the current commissioner board has used as a straw man.
Lynch: Lifetime Carver County resident. Graduated from Watertown-Mayer H.S. Married to Deb 24 years, daughters Rachel, Amanda, Victoria. Watertown Lion’s member, Watertown rod and gun club, love to hunt, fish, and spend time out of doors with my family. Served as Hollywood Township supervisor, and as County Commissioner.
District 4: Hollywood Township; City of Mayer; Waconia Township; City of Waconia Wards 1 & 2; Watertown Township; and City of Watertown.