Candidate Q&A: Goodhue County Board District 1
Goodhue County Commissioner Ron Allen is running unopposed this fall in District 1, which comprises western Red Wing and Welch Township.
County Board candidates were asked to detail the top issues in the county and their district, and what they will do to address them.
District 3 candidates’ replies can be found here.
Address: 1713 Siewert St., Red Wing, MN
Occupation: Licensed Psychologist and Retired Army National Guard Officer
Education: Doctorate in School Psychology from University of Dakota
Family: Married 35 years to Sherry Allen, three children and two grandchildren
Civic involvement: A member of the Red Wing Lions, Commander of the American Legion Post 54 and VFW life member, Vice Chair of the Goodhue County Board, member of the Goodhue Historical, Cannon Valley Trail, and Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Boards. Chairperson of the Goodhue County Human Service Board and a member several professional psychology associations
- What is the biggest challenge facing Goodhue County and how would you address it as a commissioner?
There are several major challenges facing Goodhue County from maintaining a large road/bridge system, implementing our land use plan in the county to upgrading our cybersecurity to protect our computer networks. We dedicate levy funds towards our roads every year, but we need additional support from our state and federal partners for Highway 52 and 445 bridges we have in Goodhue County. As commissioners we need to continue to share our concerns with state officials about the lack of a state transportation bill. We need to encourage our federal partners to focus on safety improvements along Highway 52. In the area of rail transportation I do not support Zip Rail because of a number of factors. I do support the River Rail Route for high-speed trains with a continued stop in Red Wing. As a member of the county high-tech committee I will seek additional improvements in order to safeguard our computer systems/networks.
- What are some specific needs and issues in your district and how would you address them?
The number one issue for the first district is the need for the federal government to find a solution for the on-site cast storage issue at Prairie Island. This is an issue that the federal government needs to solve for all nuclear power plants. Another critical need is to keep property taxes as low as possible so that businesses can continue to grow and residents afford to live in their own homes. Keeping taxes as low as possible can only be addressed with controlling our spending at the county level. It should be noted that Goodhue County has one of the lowest levy increase rates (less than 2 percent each year) for the past 12 years.
- With the uncertainty of state funding for roads and bridges, what role should the county — through property tax levy, bonding, transportation sales tax option or other means — have in maintaining local infrastructure?
The property tax levy along with state and federal funding has been used to maintain our roads. Several years ago I voted for a wheelage tax to assist with an effort to extend the life of our roads. Ten dollars was added to your license plate fee to provide additional funds to maintain our county roads. The wheelage fee is used to place a protective covering over sections of the county road system every year to delay the need to replace these roads. After the recent road tour to check on all of our county roads, the county engineer and staff continue to do an excellent job maintaining our roads/bridges even with the lack of state and federal funding.
- What life experiences would you bring to County Board and how would they affect your decision making?
My experience as a Goodhue County Commissioner for the past 12 years has given me more of a county-wide and historical perspective when looking at current issues. My experience as an Army officer of 31 years has given me the confidence to take on challenges when working with state and federal leaders on county issues. As a psychologist, my training has allowed me to understand the importance of working with others at all levels of government and with the Goodhue County Citizens I serve.
- What will be your top priority if you are elected and why?
My top priority is continue to advocate for a new interchange near Haider along Highway 52 and move the county landfill back to the state. We need to continue to improve our security at the Justice Center with new technology and the hiring of additional law enforcement officers to protect our Justice Center. We need to continue to support our Sheriff’s department with new equipment such as the Bearcat SWAT Vehicle which is critical for force protection of our officers in crisis situations and with the latest watercraft to patrol the waterways along the Mississippi River. We need to continue to update our computer network and increase our cybersecurity to protect our/your data. There is a need to strengthen our partnership with Hiawatha Valley Mental Health to improve mental health services for our citizens who struggle with mental illness or chemical issues. There is also a need to develop more housing options to accommodate the workers who want to reside in Goodhue County.