Who’s who in the Primary Election

This Primary Election, June 4, there is only one contested race between incumbent District 3 Winneshiek County Supervisor Shirley Vermace (D) and her challenger, Daniel Hovden (R). Each candidate was contacted simultaneously, asked the same three questions and given a total of 400 words for their responses. Following are the questions and answers. Answers have been edited for grammar and proper sentence structure. For this election, Driftless Multimedia is not asking questions of uncontested local candidates. 

How do you think the county should handle the rural waste collection program issue?

Hovden: At a recent meeting, the board suggested doing away with the collection program as a means to save money. Those who use it responded that it’s a popular and beneficial county service. The current system of covering this expense is inadequate. It appears the levy rate in the rural fund hasn’t been increased in over 10 years. During this time, costs have gone up dramatically. Because the state of Iowa has placed a freeze on any levee increases, the board will need to come up with an alternative way of generating revenue to keep the program viable. A “user fee” has been mentioned, and I believe that may be a feasible option. The implementation of these collection sites has been of great benefit to the county, both in mitigating cost as well as providing a convenient service. We certainly don’t want to go back to the days of sinkholes, ditches and fire pits.

Vermace: I am firmly in favor of keeping the rural waste collection program. We need to find ways to pay for services including; libraries, county sanitation, county planning and zoning ROW work, rural waste collection, and transfers to county roads. Data collection with the rural community, the landfill, recycling, and the supervisors to produce the real numbers involved with this program. Find cost savings with a “user fee” or “user license” that can help offset costs. Inquire if there are savings involving the recycling dumpsters and staff for hauling. The rural tax has not gone up in over ten years; costs for services have gone up! With the legislature’s bills tying our hands, we cannot raise that rural tax!

Please explain your position on Winneshiek County Public Health and whether or not you feel it should continue.

Hovden: This is a difficult issue, because rural needs are somewhat different than those in urban/suburban areas. Costs are rising fast, and rural populations have the added costs of having to travel distances for some services in general health and mental health. I believe public health probably needs to be streamlined to become more about public health awareness and messaging. A citizen survey of current and future needs would be beneficial. This would assist the board of supervisors in gaining knowledge to aid in making sound budget decisions. It might also allow an opportunity to measure the feasibility of online options that might reduce cost and reduce travel.

Vermace: The services provided by Public Health are essential, especially for those most vulnerable in our community! Look at savings in Public Health, but again, everyone needs to be at the table for those discussions, most importantly the Board of Health who oversee policy, Winneshiek Medical Center, and community members. We must strive for a county that cares for and supports those most vulnerable, including the elderly!

In your opinion, what is the most important issue/challenge the county is facing right now, and what would you do to address it?

Hovden: I feel the most important issue facing the board is maintaining fiscal responsibility, identifying wasteful spending and holding department heads accountable. We are living in inflationary times these days, and belt tightening is required for everyone from family households to county budgets, which means tough decisions have to be made. Let’s also remember our duty of upkeep of the county secondary roads and bridges. We are still a farming community, and our farmers and citizens and tourists need safe, viable and sustainable roads and bridges to travel on. Our public infrastructure is a vital gateway to the continued success of our county.

Vermace: I feel compelled to name three:

  1. Divisiveness and authoritarian rule versus cooperation and listening by county leadership! Supervisors are public servants; they are not CEO’s. We must strive to work in a horizontal role with county departments and the community, with an emphasis on transparency, listening and fact finding.
  2. County budget constraints largely caused by the state legislature’s HF718 and SF2442. Working with the community and department head through cooperation and discussions; we need to look for more funds for the county budget without the ability to raise the tax levies.
  3. Clean and safe water, soil and air. This will take effort by the whole community.

Primary Election

A reminder to voters for the Primary Election, voters must choose a political party to register with and receive that party’s ballot: Democratic, Republican or Libertarian.

The following races and candidates will be included on the ballots:

U.S. State Representative:

Democratic: Sarah Corkery

Republican: Ashley Hinson

Libertarian: none

State Senator District 32:

Democratic: none

Republican: Mike Klimesh

Libertarian: none

State Representative District 63:

Democratic: none

Republican: Michael R. Bergan

Libertarian: none

County Board of Supervisors District 3:

Democratic: Shirley Vermace

Republican: Dan Hovden

Libertarian: none

County Board of Supervisors District 4:

Democratic: none

Republican: Daniel Langreck

Libertarian: none

County Auditor:

Democratic: none

Republican: Benjamin D. Steines

Libertarian: none

County Sheriff:

Democratic: none

Republican: Dan Marx

Libertarian: none

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Shirley Vermace
5 days ago

I feel it would be benefit our county to have ALL candidates for supervisor, contested or not, answer these questions.