Lindquist says it's time for change
WILLMAR -- County Board challenger Andrew Lindquist says it's time for a change and time for "open government" on the County Board. The 100-year-old home that Andrew Lindquist is remodeling for his young family on a quiet piece of property in rur...
WILLMAR -- County Board challenger Andrew Lindquist says it's time for a change and time for "open government" on the County Board.
The 100-year-old home that Andrew Lindquist is remodeling for his young family on a quiet piece of property in rural Willmar is proof that the 31-year old Kandiyohi County native is a good builder.
"I like to build buildings. I like to build dreams. I like to build a vision for the future," said Lindquist, who wants to transfer those building skills to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.
Lindquist, who is a construction manager for Marcus Construction, is challenging longtime incumbent Harlan Madsen for the Fifth District commissioner seat. The district includes 11 townships and six towns -- Atwater, Blomkest, Kandiyohi, Lake Lillian, Raymond and Prinsburg -- in the southern half of Kandiyohi County. Lindquist said he was encouraged by community neighbors to run for election.
Fueled by a sense of civic duty that was instilled by his family and the belief that "government should be open, honest and responsive," Lindquist said it was an easy decision to jump into local politics.
Government needs to be open to people's ideas, honest in its intentions and responsive to concerns and suggestions, Lindquist said. He said the County Board "has become more closed," which he said has hurt the board's relationship with the county residents.
"It is time for a change" and time for "new energy and ideas," said Lindquist. He said it's difficult for people who've served on boards for many years to maintain the "fire in the belly" to address issues.
He said his energy, good communication skills, analytical thinking, ability to conduct careful research and a strong, moral focus are assets he would bring to the job.
His presence on the County Board would "change the atmosphere" and "diversify the discussion," he said, adding that a flexible work schedule will give him the time that's needed to serve on the County Board.
Lindquist listed the following as the top issues in the county: crime; balancing land development; family services mandates and funding; keeping the county affordable; and the economy.
He said it's important that the County Board remain diligent in addressing crime through adequate funding of law enforcement and using teamwork to partner with other counties and government entities to provide education on issues like drug addiction. The board can also encourage community programs such as a neighborhood watch, which he and his neighbors participate in.
Decisions on how land should be developed for residential, industrial and recreational purposes should be done with the long-term needs of the next generation kept in mind and not just the short-term "wants and needs" of today, Lindquist said.
He said the county's current comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance is "pretty well thought out" but that common sense and flexibility need to be used when making decisions on land use issues in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of Kandiyohi County residents. He said the density of development around shallow lakes needs special attention.
Lindquist praised the county's family services program and said the county has "a lot of people who really care" about the people the county serves. A reduction of state and federal funding, however, will mean that commissioners will have to make difficult decisions on how the remaining funds will be spent and how to improve economic efficiencies in programs.
"I will be willing to make the tough decisions when it comes down to that," Lindquist said.
He said the commissioners also need to work with legislators to seek reform of mandates and a reduction in red tape that can make it more difficult and expensive than necessary to provide services.
Keeping property taxes and the cost of permits and fees at a reasonable rate is necessary to keep Kandiyohi County an affordable place to live, Lindquist said. He said some of the county's fees are too high and discourage development and construction, which means a loss in the property tax base. The fees should not be used as a way to generate revenue, he said, but should cover only the cost of providing the service.
Regarding economic development, Lindquist said it makes sense to offer incentives that can attract new business to the county and encourage agriculture and renewable energy efforts. Because Willmar is an economic hub, Lindquist said the county has much to offer businesses. He said the new MinnWest Technology Campus on the grounds of the former Regional Treatment Center is an example of positive economic opportunities for the county.
If elected, Lindquist said he would enjoy "getting to know people in the community better." His ability to "be honest with people" will help him handle making decisions on controversial issues, which he foresees as being one of the biggest challenges of serving on the board.
Kandiyohi County is a "pretty darn good county," but Lindquist said the one thing he'd like to change about the county is to create a "long-term vision of where we're going."