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Supervisor candidates talk county issues
News · November 02, 2012


Five candidates are running for three seats on the Cedar County Board of Supervisors in the Nov. 6 election. The candidates are Jon Bell, Wayne Deerberg, Jeff Kaufmann, Robert Pruess and Dave Shinker.


The Tipton Conservative asked the candidates to respond to seven questions and shared those responses with the West Branch Times.



Dave Shinker

Democrat



1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, family, education, employment and future plans.

I’m 55 years old, married for 37 years to my wife, Bobette. We have a daughter, Jacqueline, and a son Christopher. Also four grandchildren: Tia, 8; Emma, 6; Ramona, 3; and Cameron, 1.

I am a U.S. Army veteran, have served five years as a Deputy Sheriff, and have 26 years with the Iowa State Patrol. Currently, I am assigned as a Sergeant at District 12 in Stockton.

My future plans involve retiring from the Iowa State Patrol at the end of 2012, spending time with my family and concentrating on our show livestock business.



2. Why do you want to serve and/or continue to serve on the Cedar County board of supervisors?

For the past 30+ years, I have served the citizens of Iowa. I would like to focus my efforts on my home county using the experiences I have gained from my law enforcement career, being involved and continuing to keep Cedar County a pleasant and safe place to live.



3. Are there any specific issues you want to address if you are elected/re-elected?

Enhance communication with our County residents and County employees. Ensure that we reach out to all areas of Cedar County, listening to the concerns of all residents.



4. What do you feel are the top three issues facing Cedar County in the coming one to 5 years?

Property taxes; Conditions of our roadways; Regionalization of mental health services.



5. Tell us how you feel about consolidation of county services with other counties.

I feel that there is a place for consolidation IF it does not take away from the services we provide to our county residents. We also need to be mindful of being fiscally responsible with these types of decisions. We need to keep our tax dollars local.



6. Are you satisfied with the condition of our rural roads? Please explain.

Currently, yes. We have had an exceptionally dry year, but we need to look to the future and be prepared for unpredictable weather.



7. What concerns do you have about the operation of Cedar County government?

I feel that we owe to the residents of Cedar County representation throughout our county at the government level. (Fair representation to all areas of Cedar County.)



Jeff Kaufmann

Republican



1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, family, education, employment and future plans.

I am 49 years old, my lovely wife is Vicki and our sons are Bobby, Jacob, and John. I am the Department Chair and a teacher at Muscatine Community College. I am a livestock operator on our family Century Farm. I have earned BA, MA, Ph.D. from the University Of Iowa. I am a seventh-generation Cedar County resident. The previous offices I have held are: Sugar Creek Township Trustee; Cedar County Conference Board; Wilton Community School Board (president, 2004); and Iowa House of Representatives (Speaker Pro Tem, 2011-12)



2. Why do you want to serve and/or continue to serve on the Cedar County board of supervisors?

After extensive leadership opportunities in the legislature, I want to bring those experiences, lessons, contacts, and passion to work in Cedar County. As a seventh-generation Cedar County resident and with extensive community involvement in every corner of our county, I would be proud to serve all of you now at the local level. A fresh perspective, proven tenacity, and a pragmatic approach would hopefully make a good Board even stronger. I will give it my best effort.



3. Are there any specific issues you want to address if you are elected/re-elected?

4. What do you feel are the top three issues facing Cedar County in the coming one to 5 years?

There are at least 10-20 key issues facing Cedar County in the next decade. I will choose three for the sake of the question, but omission of some issues does not indicate a lack of their importance.

a. Forces to consolidate and regionalize are ever present. Top-down, state mandated consolidation does not save money; it costs more and simply hurts access and quality of services for our citizens. This must be confronted at every turn.

b. Infrastructure issues (e.g. roads, bridges, facilities) are important to all our citizens and shrinking revenue will require outside-the-box thinking.

c. Job creation efforts at every level of government. “Relentless” is the best way to describe any successful effort to attract and retain jobs.



5. Tell us how you feel about consolidation of county services with other counties.

County consolidation generally does not save money and most often costs more. The overall effect of consolidation, especially if it is with another county with a larger urban population, is to make it more difficult for the rural/small town citizens to obtain the services they have paid for. Any consolidation of services should be initiated and strongly favored by the county affected. I am adamantly opposed to any top-down consolidation mandated from Des Moines. This is the crucial reason why Cedar County needs legislators from Cedar County.



6. Are you satisfied with the condition of our rural roads? Please explain.

We should never be satisfied with the condition of our rural roads because the job of maintenance and renovation is never complete … it is ongoing. We have experts in our county engineer, our road maintenance employees, and even Brad Gaul, one of our incumbent supervisors, on how to do the best job with extremely limited resources. Essentially our resources are limited by the dollars in the Road Use Tax Fund. I am adamantly opposed to any plan in the Legislature to change the formula to send more money to urban areas at the expense of our thousands of miles of roads in rural areas. This is another reason why at least one of Cedar County’s legislators in Des Moines needs to be from Cedar County.



7. What concerns do you have about the operation of Cedar County government?

Any governmental body needs to constantly work on openness and transparency. Every decision and every initiative is the people’s business. This includes the exploration of televised meetings and some night meetings of the Board.

Department heads and employees need to be tapped for their expertise and their suggestions to improve quality and efficiency.

I believe the frugal use of the tax dollar, open communication with employees, constant proactive engagement of citizens, and a constant influx of new ideas go hand in hand to achieve quality county government.

Citizen complaints should be acknowledged, discussed, explained, and in some instances corrections are merited to compensate for a poor decision or interaction. Bottom-line: the citizens are the boss and we serve them.



Jon Bell

Republican



1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, family, education, employment and future plans.

I am a lifelong resident of Cedar County and have served on the county board of supervisors for 16 years. I have been married to my wife, Harriette, for 32 years and have a son, Austin, who is a grad student at the University of Iowa. I graduated from Tipton high school and Muscatine Community College with an AAS degree in farm management. I have been farming since 1980 and am also a part time insurance adjuster. I am ready for whatever the future holds.



2. Why do you want to serve and/or continue to serve on the Cedar County board of supervisors?

To serve the people. I consider myself a public servant, not a politician. Many have come to me and asked me to continue to represent Cedar County taxpayers on the board of supervisors.



3. Are there any specific issues you want to address if you are elected/re-elected?

Development of the new CCEDCO joint venture in improving and re-generating our struggling communities, sparking economic development across the county. I also need to continue the fight against consolidation.



4. What do you feel are the top three issues facing Cedar County in the coming one to 5 years?

1) The economy and the need for business retention, growth and companion business attraction. 2) Burden of property taxes. 3) Consolidation pressures.



5. Tell us how you feel about consolidation of county services with other counties.

I am against it. I have not seen where it saves money, or maintains or improves services.



6. Are you satisfied with the condition of our rural roads? Please explain.

No. We need to continually improve our infrastructure. With less dollars coming in, we struggle to maintain what we have. More Road Use Tax Fund dollars are needed or another funding source developed.



7. What concerns do you have about the operation of Cedar County government?

We need to utilize new technologies, creating more efficiencies in our county government that will require “thinking outside the box.” Also of concern, is the pressure to consolidate.



Robert Pruess

Democrat



1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, family, education, employment and future plans.

Cedar County has been my home most of my life. I grew up in the Mechanicsville area and attended Lincoln High School in Stanwood. I attended both UI and ISU before being drafted into the Army from 1967 to 1969.

I spent 30 years farming in Cedar County. I spent 10 years in the insurance and investment division of New York Life and another 10 years in the real estate business. Most recently, I have been working for Union Pacific Railroad.

I am married and have two children, Chris Pruess and Sue Ann Behrle and four grandchildren, who call me Grandpa Bob.



2. Why do you want to serve and/or continue to serve on the Cedar County board of supervisors?

I think I can bring a fresh new perspective to the board. I am willing to work hard and do what it takes to make Cedar County a better county. I know I can make a difference.



3. Are there any specific issues you want to address if you are elected/re-elected?

As always our roads and highways are a priority. Economic factors are always changing, causing changes and adjustment at our county level, so frugal use of our tax dollars is of the utmost importance.

I will always be available to discuss any concerns that anyone has. I want to maintain a good working environment for all concerned.



4. What do you feel are the top three issues facing Cedar County in the coming one to 5 years?

We need to keep taxes in line and provide the best possible service to the county.



5. Tell us how you feel about consolidation of county services with other counties.

I want to keep all county services in Cedar County, but one has to realize that time and conditions change, so we might have to do the same.



6. Are you satisfied with the condition of our rural roads? Please explain.

As far as our rural roads are concerned, I think for the most part, they are in good shape. There are always problem areas throughout the year and that is why it is important to address these problems as they come up.



7. What concerns do you have about the operation of Cedar County government?

My concerns about our county government: Our officials need to be open minded and have a vision for the future of Cedar County. Working hand-in-hand with all county employees is so important. In order for this to all happen, one needs to be flexible, adaptive to change and understanding to others’ concerns. We need to be listeners and not talkers.



Wayne Deerberg

Republican



1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, family, education, employment and future plans.

Family: wife Bonnie married 51 years; 2 daughters, one son, 4 granddaughters and 2 grandsons.

Education: graduated from Tipton High School, elected secretary of senior class.

Employment: 30 years selling John Deere farm equipment, 16 years as a licensed real estate agent, 14 years as owner-operator of Tipton Maid-Rite.



2. Why do you want to serve and/or continue to serve on the Cedar County board of supervisors?

I would enjoy continuing to serve the citizens of Cedar County as a supervisor in order to provide the best service possible with the least amount of cost.



3. Are there any specific issues you want to address if you are elected/re-elected?

If re-elected, I would join my fellow supervisors in confronting all efforts against county consolidation. I would encourage our legislators to increase the gas tax.



4. What do you feel are the top three issues facing Cedar County in the coming one to 5 years?

1) Business and industrial development in the county. 2) County consolidation. 3) Financing secondary roads.



5. Tell us how you feel about consolidation of county services with other counties.

I feel that mandatory consolidation of county services is not good for Cedar County. Most of the time it saves no money and the county loses local services to our citizens.



6. Are you satisfied with the condition of our rural roads? Please explain.

Rural roads were not built for the loads that are on them today. I believe Cedar County roads are well maintained for the dollars that are available. If road use tax was increased, the county could replace more bridges and eliminate some bridge embargoes.



7. What concerns do you have about the operation of Cedar County government?

My main concern for county government is to provide the very best of services with the employees we have and to fairly compensate them for their efforts.

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