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Candidate Q&A: Goodhue County Board District 2

Five candidates are vying to be the Goodhue County District 2 commissioner in elections this fall, but their first hurdle is the Aug. 12 primary that will narrow the field.

Brad Anderson, Nora Bryson Felton, Edward McNamara, Sarah Pettit and Sandy Wollschlager are competing for the two spots on the Election Day ballot.

Current District 2 Commissioner Richard Samuelson announced previously that he will not run for re-election this year.

The district covers Cannon Falls, Belle Creek, Leon, Minneola, Stanton, and Vasa townships and the city of Cannon Falls.

Read on to find out where candidates stand on local issues and what sets them apart in the crowded race.

Brad Anderson

Age: 56

Address: 10679 375th St. Way, Cannon Falls

Occupation: Service manager at Niebur Tractor

Education: Cannon Falls High School graduate; agriculture and mechanics continuing education

Family: Kathy Anderson, wife; two adult children, Ariana Wright of Park Rapids, Minnesota, and Travis Anderson of Cannon Falls; four grandchildren

Civic involvement: Leon Township clerk 12 years; Goodhue County Board of Adjustment nine years; Belle Creek Township Watershed Board three years; Cannon Falls School Board six years; St. Columbkill Catholic Church past council member; past member of Goodhue County Pork Producers and past 4-H Federation adult treasurer.

What sets you apart from the other District 2 County Board candidates?

Experience, communication and collective decision-making are what set me apart as a candidate. I have experience in several areas of local government including Leon Township, Goodhue County Board of Adjustment, school board and Belle Creek watershed board.

Each of these experiences has enabled me to develop the skills needed to be an effective member and leader in the decision-making process.

These skills will allow me to ensure that all sides of an issue are discussed with an open mind and that the decisions are made with as much input and information available on each issue.

What are some specific needs and issues in District 2 and how would you address them?

Some important issues for District 2 in Goodhue County are connected to infrastructure and development. This includes continued progress of the development of Highway 52 corridor including the intersection of County 8, County 57 and Highway 52 at Hader.

Another issue is business development along the Highway 52 corridor. A viable plan for development could include possible zoning changes to encourage meaningful development which will add to the tax base in a positive way.

Alternative energy resources must be balanced with local residents and agricultural needs. There needs to be thoughtful planning to the development of Lake Byllesby and a resolution of the failed Sandstone Ridge Project in Cannon Falls that is equitable to Goodhue County, city of Cannon Falls and the state.

Finally, our general road infrastructure must be a priority. We need to continue to fix and upgrade the county’s road system.  

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

In the past several weeks, I have spent time talking with present Goodhue County commissioners, the county administrator, county department heads and have attended township meetings for all six townships in District 2 seeking input as to the important issues in Goodhue County. Based on these conversations as well as conversations with residents, I believe the top priority for Goodhue County is to work together to develop a vision for the future of our county. This vision and strategic plan should guide the decision-making process and assure that Goodhue County continues to move forward.

Goodhue County needs to strive to be a destination for families to live, work and play if we are to be viable in the future. I have a desire to help create this vision with input from residents, county staff and local officials.

Residents can find out more information at

Nora Bryson Felton

Age: 50

Address: 3079 County 24 Blvd., Cannon Falls

Occupation: farmer, business owner and journalist

Education: Koinonia Institute Continuing Education – present; University of Minnesota, animal science and agricultural journalism with minors in ag economic and international ag; Columbia University summer journalism program.

Family: Doug, husband; children Miranda and Bryson at home; adult children Chad, Chris (Julie) and Cassy (Travis) Tufty.

Civic involvement: Southeastern Minnesota Irrigators Association secretary, 4-H volunteer judge; state Department of Agriculture Ag-In-The-Classroom Board with travel to Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What sets you apart from the other District 2 County Board candidates?

I am a good listener, analytical and courageous. I have a broad base of educational and life experiences that range from farming to molecular genetics, from being a field representative to writing news articles.

Being a small-business owner, I understand what it takes to plan, invest, budget, hire and comply with regulations.

I understand the need for a strong tax base to educate our children and provide jobs to bring them and their God-given talents back home — so our rural communities can thrive and survive, and provide health care for our veterans and those who have made our freedoms and present prosperity possible.

Being a lover of history and civics, and having traveled to Western Europe, Eastern Europe (before and after the Berlin Wall came down), Russia and South America, I have seen the devastating effects of government overreach and public apathy.

What are some specific needs and issues in District 2 and how would you address them?

Balance — between maintaining our rural values yet being realistic enough to allow appropriate investment to expand business and tax-base. Respecting everyone’s property rights.

Listening to constituents, specific issues currently include: wind and solar energy, frac sand mining, Zip Rail corridor, prudent use of tax revenues, appropriate government investments, public/private partnerships and wisely managing water resources.

I am going to listen, listen, listen and listen some more to my constituents.

I will carefully research each issue. Combining these two proven processes with my education and life experiences, I will have the courage to speak the truth and do what is right and fair for Goodhue County.

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

My platform and commitment to you, the citizens of District 2 specifically, and all of Goodhue County in general, is: preserving your voice, protecting your property, and living within our budget.

Edward McNamara

Age: 55

Address: 37299 171 Ave., Goodhue

Occupation: Agricultural producer

Education: Riverland Community College — farm business management; University of Minnesota Waseca — diversified agricultural production; Goodhue Public School

Family: Wife, Jane; children Megan, Abbey, Molly and Sam

Civic involvement: Goodhue County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor, 1997-current, delegate to national meetings; St. Columbkill Church council and trustee; Belle Creek Township: 1985-1997, supervisor and treasurer; Dairy Herd Improvement, Corn & Soybean Growers, Holstein Association, Certified Crop Advisors of America.

What sets you apart from the other District 2 County Board candidates?

I believe I can build the consensus of working together with all the commissioners and staff that make Goodhue County not just good but a great place to live and work. The County Board should have a vision of where we go from here and hire or maintain employees that can make that happen. “Standing pat” will not move us as a county into the future. I want to bring my experience working with our neighboring counties to continue needed policy work in soil and water conservation.

What are some specific needs and issues in District 2 and how would you address them?

1) District 2 has development pressure from both Dakota and Rice counties. Water conservation and erosion planning are very important to try to control water impurities in surface or ground water supplies and collaboration will be required between county lines.

2) What to do with Highway 52 corridor. How much development, where and when it should happen. The county could be involved to entice development, gaining tax base to pay for infrastructures.

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

1) I believe the county should work more with our townships to get our failing bridges and culverts repaired. Designing all roads to slow down water moving off our ground into small creeks and streams, eventually to the Mississippi River. Our county has tremendous amounts of agricultural production that has to move from the farm to the markets. Our road system must continually meet this growing demand.

2) Goodhue County has to work to improve the welfare and justice program that gets people needed training so they become contributing members of our county, not just time or pay the fine. Countywide, employers are unable to fill positions because there are not enough trained people. Trained employees equal jobs equal better society for all.

Sarah Pettit

Age: 48

Address: 15361 440 St., Zumbrota

Occupation: Farmer, co-owner of Pettit IBA Dairy Supply

Education: Highland Regional; Riverland Farm Management

Family: Husband, Joel; children Kalie, University of Minnesota Veterinary Medicine graduate; Madison, Gustavus Adolphus graduate; Jared, 22, at South Dakota State University.

Civic involvement: Minneola Township clerk; nine years on Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission, chair twice; Goodhue County Strategic Plan and mining ordinance subcommittees; Goodhue County Holstein Board, Goodhue County Junior Holstein Show, Goodhue County Dairy Herd Improvement and Zumbrota-Mazeppa Public School volunteer.

What sets you apart from the other District 2 County Board candidates?

Goodhue County is a great place to live, work and raise a family. I strongly believe that and look forward to spending the rest of my life here. I would like to be an active participant in the local government that works for the good of the community, environment and local economy.

I am a small-business owner. I know how to listen, understand and empathize with others’ goals, wishes, present needs and long-term desires.

I know accountability rests with me and how every decision affects the bottom line and health of the operation. I am a farmer, a very humbling occupation. As a farmer, you learn that you can never have control over everything but you have to work with what you have to strive for the best outcomes possible. 

What are some specific needs and issues in District 2 and how would you address them?

Future decisions on energy resources, health care for both young and old, transportation issues such as road maintenance and safety, as well as economic issues regarding budgets and taxes are all large issues facing Goodhue County. As a representative of District 2, I would work with other board members to come to a conclusive agreement on all matters big and small. It is important that Goodhue County remains a place that encourages growth without discouraging citizens from residing here.

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

My top priority would be to listen, bring a common sense approach, accountability and good business sense to every issue that comes before the board. I am not running to promote one specific agenda. Everything from land use management to road maintenance to public health are all issues that come full circle to affect everyone residing in Goodhue County.

No single topic is more important than another. Every issue that comes before the board needs to be taken seriously and well researched, as they all affect the overall health of Goodhue County.

More directly, my top priority is to ensure Goodhue County remains a great place to live, do business and raise a family for future generations to come, as well as our own.

Sandy Wollschlager

Age: 56

Address: 30065 82nd Ave. Way, Cannon Falls

Occupation: 3M for 34 years, working on environmental, regulatory law, health, worker safety.

Education: Bachelor’s in chemistry, Augsburg College; Master’s in Public Administration, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Family: Husband, Joe; children Carl in Bellingham, Washington; Lindsey (Justin) in Minneapolis.

Civic involvement: Minnesota Legislature, representing Goodhue and Wabasha counties; Cannon Falls School Board eight years; 3M’s Visiting Wizard Science volunteer; past president of Red Wing AAUW; Northfield/Cannon Falls Area League Women Voters; past Vasa Lutheran Church council member.

What sets you apart from the other District 2 County Board candidates?

I have the experience, patience and hard-earned wisdom to lead Goodhue County as your Commissioner.

No other candidate has the broad experience I have through my 34-year career at 3M and serving in the Minnesota Legislature and on the Cannon Falls School Board.

When I was in the Legislature, my committee assignments were Govern- mental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections; Taxes (Vice Chair), and Veterans Affairs Division. 

Goodhue County commissioners work with these issues every day too.

My science education and advanced degree in public administration are also an asset.

When I was a member of the Cannon Falls School Board, we improved the science classrooms so our students can learn new technologies in a safe setting.

I have worked hard for the citizens of Goodhue County and will continue to apply what I have learned as commissioner.

What are some specific needs and issues in District 2 and how would you address them?

There have been many accidents and fatalities at several intersections along Highway 52, which cuts through most of District 2. We have to keep the focus on safety as we consider new projects.

Protecting our scenic landscape has been a hot topic for several years. I attended Goodhue County commissioner meetings for over a year before I testified against mining frac sand along the river. I’m not against mining: I work for the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company after all (i.e., 3M). But, Iron Rangers know the value of tourism and do not mine along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The same is true here of our great Mississippi River.

The county provides many services ranging from child protection to veterans affairs. I will be an advocate for those that can’t fight for themselves, and for those that have fought for us and now need our help.

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

Keeping property taxes low will always be a concern. County government is the workhorse of government. Federal and state dollars are administered at this level, and when done right, the county doesn’t have to raise the levy.

So, it’s important to keep pressure on elected officials to do their respective jobs.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875