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Shuck wants to reshape county programs

WILLMAR -- Living and working on the farm that his family established more than 120 years ago in northwestern Kandiyohi County, Dean Shuck has lived in the county his entire life and has a firm grip on the history of his community.

"I think it's a great county to live and work in, although it's the only I've ever lived in," the county commissioner for District 3 said with a grin.

With a long background serving on the Arctander Town Board and the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg School Board, as well as a stint in the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam, Shuck said his experience in local government and ability to be a "listener" is a good fit for serving on the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

First elected to the County Board in 2002, Shuck, of rural Sunburg, is seeking re-election to his third term in office representing District 3, which includes the Pheasant Run and Eagles Landing areas of Willmar, the towns of Pennock and Sunburg and the following townships: Arctander, Colfax, Dovre, Mamre, Lake Andrew, Norway Lake and St. Johns.

He is being challenged by Doug Lindblad, of Willmar.

"I'm more of a listener than a talker," Shuck said. "I like to listen to both sides, and when I'm not listening, I'm not always saying 'I'm right,'" said Shuck, stressing that people "want to be heard."

He is disappointed when people tell him they believe the county commissioners have already made up their minds on proposed projects before they have heard from constituents.

That's not the case, said Shuck, drawing on a recent example of a proposed reconstruction of County Road 9 by Eagle Lake near Willmar.

What people say about that project has already made a difference in what type of proposals are being considered, said Shuck, adding that a final decision was delayed so that more options and information can be gathered.

He said his belief that the state will make changes in how much control it has on county programs and funding was the driving force in his decision to run again.

Shuck said counties "know more" than the state on how money should be spent on local programs, and he wants to be a part of shaping that new direction. "We'll just have to do business differently," he said.

Because of a reduction in state and local tax revenues, Shuck said the way government operates will change.

"Business as usual isn't going to work," he said, adding that none of the county commissioners wants to raise taxes.

When asked to identify one area where the county is doing well, Shuck's response was "holding costs down."

The department heads presented budget proposals that had a zero increase from last year.

Shuck identified the sanitary landfill as the key area where the county needs to make improvements. "It's an eyesore," he said. "We can't just keep covering up garbage."

The commissioners have been struggling to identify the scope of groundwater contamination on the site, and the county is exploring ways to generate energy from past and future garbage.

Shuck said he will rely on county department heads to recommend ways to streamline county government. "They all have ideas on how to do things better," he said. "We have a fantastic bunch of supervisors."

If re-elected, Shuck said his top priorities would be to keep the county budget in line without too much of a tax increase, continue cooperative projects with cities to reduce the tax burden and repair and turn back some of the lesser used county roads to townships.

When asked why people should vote for him instead of his opponent, Shuck noted his more than 20 years of experience in school, township and county government. He also said he's a "nice guy," but added, with a laugh, that after meeting Lindblad at a recent candidate forum, he found out his opponent is a nice guy too.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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