Rechtzigel hopes for another term on County BoardSept. 29, 2012.
Name: Dan Rechtzigel
Address: 1140 Second St. E., Kenyon
Occupation: High school social studies teacher
Education: Graduate of Kenyon-Wanamingo High School in 1993, graduate of Mankato State University with bachelor’s in social studies education in 1997, graduate of Winona State University with master’s in education in 2002
Civic involvement: Goodhue County commissioner since 2005, Riverview Services Board in Wanamingo, Kenyon-Wanamingo Chemical Health Initiative Council, Highway 52 Partnership Board, Goodhue County Extension Committee, Goodhue County Economic Development Authority, Goodhue County Planning Commission, Kenyon Sportsmens Club, former member of Goodhue County Historical Society Board and Kenyon-Wanamingo Community Education Advisory Council, former Cherry Grove Township clerk.
If re-elected, what will be your top priorities for 2013?
Pushing for greater collaboration and reform. Simply put, we have to do more with less. I have, and always will, push Goodhue County toward embracing reform and change.
We are now working with several townships to have them maintain county gravel roads during summer, freeing up our public works staff during the busy construction season.
We’ve consolidated departments to maximize efficiency. We’ve partnered with other counties to provide joint services by splitting the costs. By embracing collaboration and reform, we have been able to tackle important projects without having to resort to big levy increases.
Since 2005, our county tax levy increases have averaged 1.65 percent per year, far lower than the rate of inflation in Minnesota during that time.
We have also been able to preserve funding for important programs such as our Road and Bridge program, 4-H and Sentence to Serve.
Highway safety has been a big concern for citizens. How do you think Goodhue County should go about addressing problem intersections and bridges?
Keeping current with our road and bridge program will be one of the biggest challenges facing the County Board. We have more bridges in Goodhue County than just about any other county in the state.
Our road program is difficult to maintain due to rising construction costs, and when you add Highway 52 into the equation, the situation becomes more challenging.
We will need to update our road and bridge priority list to highlight our most pressing construction needs. For example, if we have a crumbling bridge that serves as the only access point for county residents, then we need to place that bridge high on the replacement list.
We need to continue to fight for funding from the feds and state to improve intersections on Highway 52. We need to apply for available grants, search for every qualifying program and continue to keep bonding available as a local option.
How will you handle the issue of silica sand mines in Goodhue County?
We need to continue our study of the impacts this type of mining will have on Goodhue County. We need help and expertise from the state and I will continue to urge our legislators to push for a statewide study of the effects of silica mining on the environment.
There are instances where this type of mining has operated without destroying the local area, but there are many more instances in which communities have regretted inviting the mining companies in. We need to learn where this type of mining has worked, where it hasn’t, and establish strong rules first before allowing any companies to proceed.
Once we determine the impact this mining will have on our air, water, land, livelihood and roads, we can then move forward with a decision of how inviting we want to be. At this point, it appears there are more disincentives than there are incentives.
What area(s) of the county’s budget do you feel can withstand cuts, and what areas need more money?
Every year I scrutinize the budget line item by line item. I take this job seriously, and every year I assemble a list of cuts.
We have cut items from every department. We have cut programs and services. We have cut our capital replacement plan.
There are still areas where we can cut, but we must do so in ways that protect vital programs and services and don’t cause us bigger problems down the road.
We need the state to eliminate unfunded mandates and give the counties freedom to seek a better path forward. We need to seriously consider if we really need every county providing duplicate services.
I believe we can consolidate some services into a regional model to better maximize efficiency. Until the economy improves, I don’t see any areas getting more funding other than what is absolutely necessary to maintain core services.
Do you feel that wind turbines have a place in Goodhue County? Why or why not?
We have learned much over the past few years. We have learned that the state does in fact have the authority to permit and regulate large scale wind. We have learned that if the county passes an ordinance attempting to ban wind, the state will overrule the county. And we have learned that the courts will uphold the state’s authority.
I believe the county should focus on adopting health and safety standards that protect our residents. It would be more difficult for the state to dismiss specific standards addressing noise and shadow flicker than it is for them to dismiss an ordinance that prohibits turbines entirely.
Also, we need to separate small wind from large wind. If a farmer wants to put up a small turbine to save money running his grain dryers and milk pump, the county should encourage this rather than block his efforts to become more profitable.