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Rechtzigel ready to guide 'citizens' board'

County Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel was elected chair of the Goodhue County Board for 2013.

Editor's note: The R-E looks at new leaders' hopes and plans in a three-part series.

Jan. 12: Heidi Jones

Today: Dan Rechtzigel

Jan. 19: Lisa Bayley

With his second term wrapping up at the end of 2012, Goodhue County Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel was up for re-election in November.

Not only was he elected back to his District 3 seat on the board with 2,370 votes, he was later elected by his fellow commissioners to lead the board for 2013. This year marks the eighth in a row that the County Board has featured the same five men.

"It really speaks to how well the organization is run," Rechtzigel said. "We all have the same goal in mind."

As the commissioners look forward to another year working together, the new chair said he wants county residents to know their ideas and concerns are valued.

"We look to other people for guidance and we like to know what they're interested in. It's truly a citizens' board," Rechtzigel said. "We're all very accessible people. I think it's important that people know that comments actually make a difference."

Goodhue County residents offered a lot of comments in 2012 as important issues including wind turbines and silica sand mines had many people concerned with the state of the area's environment and health of the county's citizens.

Rechtzigel said he thinks both topics will continue to be at the forefront of conversations in 2013 and hopes to get more answers from the state about each one.

"We've just really got to get our hands around (silica sand) and I don't know if we can do that fully on a local level," he said. "I think there's a role for the state to play."

In addition, Rechtzigel said he wants a more definitive response from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission about the part it sees Goodhue County playing in the process of regulating wind farms.

"My biggest goal is to make sure that the county does not become legally liable for a project that is not under our control," he noted.

While Rechtzigel said he doesn't think controversy around sand and wind will conclude anytime soon, he does expect the County Board to reach a resolution on some other important topics in 2013, including decisions with the Citizens Building and recycling operations within the county.

"There are certain issues we do need to tackle and deal with simply because they won't go away," he said.

After handling problems that have been pushed back in previous years, Rechtzigel said he's most anxious to use 2013 to think about Goodhue County's future.

"It'd be nice to actually look long-term," he said. "What do we want to do for the next generation?"

During a year when Rechtzigel said the board is pretty well-off financially, the chair wants to see the county setting aside money for upcoming projects.

"I think we've started to do that with County Road 9," he said.

An excellent way to save money, Rechtzigel added, is by taking strides to partner with other government entities and combine services, something the board has embraced in recent years. Hopefully, Rechtzigel said, more can be done with that concept in 2013.

"That's always been a goal of mine - just to develop more partnerships. We're always going to be seeking that," he said.

Currently, Goodhue County shares a surveyor with neighboring Dodge County. In the coming months and years, Rechtzigel said he'd like to see some collaboration among southeastern Minnesota counties for handling emergency dispatch services, as well as tasks in Health and Human Services.

"If we share resources and share staff, then we also free up money that we can give to people who need it."