Q&A with Goodhue County commissioner candidate Jeff HommedahlHommedahl: County needs a new direction
What are the core functions of the county government and how would you, as commissioner, promote those functions?
The purpose of any government is to do what we as individuals cannot do for ourselves, such as streets, highways and public safety. As one of five commissioners, I would be responsible for a large portion of the public's taxes, both local property taxes and taxes from the state that go toward the county's implementation of health and human service departments.
With a roughly $55 million budget, a Goodhue county commissioner needs to be an outstanding steward of taxpayer dollars.
Programs independent of the county like 4-H and the Goodhue County Historical Society are facing funding cuts from the county next year. With ongoing budget issues, will the county need to re-evaluate its relationship with these non-mandated programs, or can they continue as before?
We cannot continue doing things like we have in the past and expect a better result.
That said, I grew up in the 4-H program and was president when I was in high school. With the county's heavy agricultural base it is important that we keep the 4-H program going.
We must also find a way to preserve our county's heritage. As Winston Churchill said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
To preserve these programs I would volunteer some of my time outside of my commissioner duties to find ways to keep them intact.
Goodhue Wind's proposed wind development has been in the news for the past year, but two other companies are also interested in building large-scale wind projects in Goodhue County. What should the county's long-term wind development goals be?
We have to find a reasonable balance between participants and non-participants. I support the 10-rotor diameter setback from a non-participant's property line. We could reduce the setback at a later date if those affected agreed, but once a windmill is in, there is no way to increase the setback.
We must ensure that we have proper procedures in place for decommissioning, especially since wind power requires heavy government subsidies to operate. If these subsidies are eliminated, which is a possibility with the state to federal budget crisis, the county or landowners must not be the ones left to remove these windmills.
How do you distinguish yourself from your opponent?
I think that I have more energy and drive than the current commissioner does. As a small business owner, I have the budgeting and management experience and an understanding of how government regulation and taxation affects the private sector. That perspective is needed on the county board to help encourage business and job growth . I think my opponent has lost sight of how truly challenging these times are economically for so many of our citizens.
My opponent has a consistent history of voting in favor of raising taxes, including a levy increase for next year. From 1999 to 2009, county spending has gone up over 80%. Meanwhile median family income has not even increased 25%, according to the census bureau. With the income, estate, and capital gains taxes set to increase next year, along with a possible school levy in Cannon Falls, We must find a way to balance the county budget without raising taxes. History has shown that tax cuts are the best way to revive our economy.