Candidates share views at forum
Zoning is still a question people ask the candidates for two seats on the Washington County Board of Supervisors, in addition to other basic questions.
Free County held its second candidates’ forum for county supervisor candidates Tuesday evening in the Brighton Community Center. Republicans for supervisors District 5 are Scott Davis and Abe Miller. On the Democrats side of the table are Ceanne Alvine and Keith Cutkomp. Supervisor Richard Young, also a Republican, attended the forum. He is running unopposed for re-election.
When asked about county zoning, Davis said he wouldn’t say yes or no to zoning. He would weigh the pros and cons before a decision if zoning were to come back to the table.
Miller said he opposes zoning. He said the zoning ordinance was to bring in businesses and it didn’t do that.
Alvine said no to zoning. However, she hedged her answer by saying she wants to bring economic growth and development to the county, and the board of supervisors may decide how the county presents itself to the world.
Since the first Free County forum on April 22, Cutkomp said he is a definite no on zoning. In April, he said there might be some benefit to zoning, but that he wouldn’t pursue zoning as a board member. Tuesday evening, he said he learned more about zoning which changed his mind.
Young said he did not support zoning. He said there are buildings being built for businesses that wouldn’t have been built before zoning was repealed.
When asked why they are running for supervisor, all of the candidates said they were encouraged to do so by friends and party members.
A question about spending taxpayer dollars and saying no to people who ask for county tax funds, and support for the U.S. Constitution was asked next. All of the candidates said they believe in and support the Constitution.
As for spending tax dollars, Young used the supervisors’ decision Tuesday morning to donate $15,000 to the Friends of Lake Darling. He said that decisions about funding projects should be made on a case-by-case basis. He said he doesn’t like to spend tax dollars. He voted to approve the donation because it will benefit county citizens and the county as a whole.
Miller also spoke about the donation to the Friends group. He said the Friends project will offer a return to the county and that it was a worthy cause.
Cutkomp said that, like it or not, people need government. He said it would be tough trying to spend other people’s money.
Davis also said that Lake Darling helps the community and it will bring in more money. He also said he will be levelheaded when deciding to spend tax dollars.
Alvine said that Lake Darling is a good example of a public-private partnership. When deciding on how to spend tax dollars, she said she would use a cost-benefit analysis. She also said she is a successful grant writer, and she would like to bring more grant funds to the county.
The candidates were asked if they think the State of Iowa has created problems for county government.
Miller said the state hasn’t helped with the shortage of funds to maintain county secondary roads.
Cutkomp talked about state spending for school funding as a big issue. He also said county roads need to be handled too.
Davis also talked about a lack of state funding. He knows the roads need to be worked on as well.
Alvine thinks the state favors big cities when it comes to state funding.
Roads are on Young’s mind, too, and he is concerned about how the state will fund mental health care. He also said the commercial tax cuts will eventually impact funding of local governments.
When asked what the most important issue is in county government, Alvine said economic growth. She said there are two key areas in the county for growth — Lake Darling and the 218 corridor. She thinks the supervisors can help encourage development. She would push for more small businesses to start up in the county.
Young also talked about economic growth along 218 and county roads. He said it is important to really listen to the opinions of county residents.
Miller thinks the county can save money on the secondary roads in the county. He said the county spent $12 million to fix 125 miles of county roads in recent years. He also said the county shouldn’t have to borrow $8 million to fix roads.
Cutkomp talked about how some roads are narrower than others. He said he hasn’t had a problem with that, and that narrow roads may be easier to take care of and to remove snow from.
Davis supports improving county roads. He said that many roads are wider because the roadbeds have been mashed out by bigger farming equipment.
The candidates were also asked if they would listen to the public and how public opinion might influence their votes.
Young said that he has listened to the people. There are hard decisions to be made and, so far, he has voted the way the people have asked him to.
Miller said the county has seen what has happened when the supervisors don’t listen to the people. He said it’s important to listen to the people, and to represent them.
Cutkomp said, for the most part, he would go with the people. He also said that sometimes the supervisors know more about an issue than the people do and he would take that into account.
Davis said he would be there to listen to the people, and he would weigh the pros and cons.
Alvine said that was not a simple question. If everybody agreed, would we need politicians, she said. She would bring collaboration to the table.
The candidates thanked the crowd for coming to the forum. They asked for the people’s support in the June 3 primary, when the field will narrow to one Democrat and one Republican candidate in District 3. Young said he is the only candidate running in District 5, but that could change.