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Five candidates in primary for Renville County Board

RENVILLE -- Voters in western Renville County will be trimming a list of five candidates to two in the District 5 County Board race.

Vying to advance to the general election in Tuesday's primary are candidates: Jerry Agre, Patricia Buschette, Lamont Jacobson, Gerald Mulder and Gary Wertish.

The strong interest in the seat doesn't surprise its current holder, Gale Dahlager of Sacred Heart. Dahlager said he let it be known earlier this year that he was not planning to run and encouraged others to toss in their hats.

Dahlager has served as the district's representative for 24 years. After six terms, however, he said he is ready to move on. He plans to travel and spend more time with his family.

Dahlager praised the candidates and said he is confident the district will be well represented. Dahlager said he expects a large voter turnout as a large part of the district is within the Renville County West School District, where officials hope voters will pass a bond for a new school.

Here's a look at the candidates:

Agre is currently Renville County sheriff, a position he's held for 18 years. He has more than 33 years experience as a Renville County police officer. Agre said he is planning to retire as sheriff at the end of the year and has both the desire and experience to serve on the board of commissioners. He pointed to his police career -- and managing a staff of over 30 full- and part-time employees -- as helping prepare him for the responsibilities of being a commissioner.

He said his knowledge of the county and familiarity with its residents will also help him and that he is especially interested in bringing jobs and young families back to the county.

Buschette is a native of Renville County who returned to the area four years ago from the Twin Cities. She also spent time in Washington, D.C. Buschette worked as a paralegal in the Twin Cities for a decade before going to work as an aide for U.S. Rep. David Minge in 1999. When Minge left office, Buschette worked for the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Buschette has a master's degree in organizational leadership, which she said has prepared her for being on the County Board. She said hopes to build on the work Dahlager has done and "work for the common good." Buschette said she wants to tackle economic development issues and give the people a sense of ownership in their county government.

Jacobson operated a dairy farm for 32 years before he sold his herd and scaled back his farming operation. At 50, he said he remains interested in the needs of the county, and is committed to serving its people. He said friends and acquaintances encouraged him to run because he is always willing to hear their concerns and to speak up for them.

Jacobson said he's served on a variety of cooperative boards, his church council and remains active in a host of activities that have provided him with a good perspective on the county's needs.

Mulder has operated a crop and livestock farm north of Renville for 38 years. He has never run for elected office, but said he become interested in the county's issues while serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission over the past eight years. In the past, he has also served on the 4-H Extension Advisory Board and the County Fair Board. He's also held numerous leadership roles in farm organizations, including as president of the Renville County Corn and Soybean Association.

Mulder listed several issues he'd like to address while in office, to include: promoting economic development, providing home health care for the elderly and controlling property tax increases.

Wertish is a lifelong Renville County resident who has farmed and been active in grass roots and state and national government. He said his 16 years of experience on the Emmet Township Board of Supervisors has provided him with the opportunity to work on behalf of constituents and has given him an appreciation for the county's needs. Wertish has also served as an aide to former Sen. Mark Dayton. He said that experience allowed him to become well-acquainted with local, state and federal officials and provide him with an understanding of what it takes to get things done.

Wertish said the rural way of life is important to him. "I want to do what I can do to make a difference,'' he said.

Staff writer Linda Vanderwerf contributed information for this story.