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Four candidates running for the chance to be the next Kandiyohi County Commissioner in District 3

The Aug. 9 primary election will decide which two candidates will move on to run in the general election for the open District 3 seat on the Kandiyohi County Board. Voters will need to decide between four hopefuls — Dale Anderson, Karl Kaufman, Joel Johnson and Kim Larson.

 Four candidates are running for the Kandiyohi County Board District 3 seat. Only two will remain after the Aug. 9 primary.
Four candidates are running for the Kandiyohi County Board District 3 seat. Only two will remain after the Aug. 9 primary.
West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — When current District 3 Kandiyohi County Commissioner Rollie Nissen made the decision not to run for a third term, it paved the way for a new face to come on to the board. Four candidates threw their hats into the ring, and two will move forward to the Nov. 8 general election. On Aug. 9 voters will decide which two will move on.

The four candidates running are Dale Anderson, Joel Johnson, Karl Kaufman and Kim Larson. All believe they have the skills and drive to be the next commissioner for District 3, which covers the northwest quarter of Kandiyohi County, including a small portion of Willmar.

Dale Anderson

Anderson has been a lifelong resident of Kandiyohi County, continuing a family tradition of more than 150 years. The family farm in the northern region of the county not only grows corn, beans and small grain but also raises beef cattle and custom feeds hogs. He and his wife have also raised three sons and they now have nine grandchildren.

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Dale Anderson

In addition to farming, Anderson has been on the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative board of directors for 31 years, is a member of the Great River Energy board and is also a current board member of the Kandiyohi County Fair.

Anderson's top three priorities as a commissioner would be the county budget, broadband expansion and roads and bridges. He wants the county to conserve its funds where it can but also use its funds as efficiently as possible to meet the needs of the people.

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Broadband access remains a need for county residents and Anderson wants to find ways to best provide access and good service to those who need it. When it comes to roads and bridges, he believes the tax base will need to be adjusted to be able to maintain roads at the highest level possible.

If elected, Anderson said he will meet with people, listen to their wants and needs and then continue to work toward meeting those needs. He also said he will do his best to follow up with constituents.

"I am mindful of putting together a budget that balances addressing needs and controlling spending," Anderson said. "I believe in commonsense thinking."

Find all of our coverage of the 2022 election here

Joel Johnson

Kandiyohi County has been the home of Johnson's family since at least 1880, when the family farm was first settled. Johnson still operates that farm, in addition to running his own construction company and serving as a supervisor on the Mamre Township Board.

He has also been involved with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission Broadband Committee, helping with a four-township broadband expansion project. His community service also includes being a member of the Pennock Lions Club and serving as the chairman of the Pennock Fire Department Joint Powers Board.

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Joel Johnson

The priorities on which Johnson would want to focus if elected commissioner would be high-speed broadband internet expansion, protection of the county's water resources and support of law enforcement. Broadband expansion is important for businesses to compete and succeed going forward, Johnson said, and the pandemic has shown that broadband access has risen to the level of a necessity.

Johnson wants to help protect the county's lakes, streams and watersheds. He feels it is important to work on these issues now, instead of later when the negative changes could be irreversible.

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Law enforcement will need support going forward, as officers continue to deal with growing numbers of people struggling with mental illness and addiction. Johnson said when someone reaches out for help, it is imperative that there is somebody there willing and able to assist.

Johnson believes his time on the township board, along with experience as a business owner and farmer, have given him very useful skills that would help him as a county commissioner. He has dealt with labor shortages, supply problems and rising material costs, he said, and also understands many different issues that face Kandiyohi County, such as roads, levies and budgets.

"I think I can help with conservation, housing problems and getting high-speed internet to people in this county," Johnson said. "I am not a politician. I believe in helping people."

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Karl Kaufman

Having moved to Kandiyohi County in 1984, Kaufman said he found a community that was a wonderful place to raise his family. His decision to run for county commissioner is in part a way for him to contribute to the county’s future.

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Karl Kaufman

Kaufman has 45 years of experience in corporate sales, 36 of them with Hormel/Jennie-O Turkey Store. He served in many positions and retired two years ago as the director of national accounts in the food service division. Kaufman said his time in sales taught him to be detail-oriented and be a good listener.

In addition to his sales experience, Kaufman also has an agricultural background. He grew up on a farm and today owns and operates his own farm.

Broadband, watersheds and taxes are the top three priorities on which Kaufman would like to focus if elected. He said broadband is an issue that impacts all families in Kandiyohi County. Making sure residents and businesses have access to broadband is a way to help ensure future growth in the county.

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Kaufman is an avid fisher and hunter and watershed conservation is important to him. He feels it is imperative to complete projects in the watersheds to protect those natural resources.

Kaufman said he continues to hear from voters about taxes, especially because of inflation. He said the county will need to be judicious with county expenditures at all levels.

Kaufman said his listening skills learned from his time in sales will make him a good commissioner. He said he is also service-oriented, displayed through his volunteering with Rotary.

“I have been listening since my candidacy was announced in May,” Kaufman said. “I am known for asking questions and giving straight answers and solutions.”

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Kim Larson

Being a county commissioner is in Larson’s blood. Larson’s father, Earl, was a Kandiyohi County Commissioner for 24 years, and Larson said after his father’s death, he felt compelled to try and follow in his father’s footsteps.

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Kim Larson

Larson is a lifelong resident and business owner of Dovre Farms in Dovre Township. Over the years he has also held the position of environmental ag administrator for Kandiyohi County, was a project coordinator for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission and taught at Ridgewater College.

He currently serves on the Dovre Township Board, the EDC Ag and Renewable Energy Committee and has held various leadership positions with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the American Soybean Association.

If elected, Larson would want to start a program to complete reviews of all the county departments to see if they are running efficiently while meeting the needs of the residents. It would be a way to make sure the county is spending the taxpayers' money in prudent ways.

He would also prioritize supporting the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office and making sure the office has the resources to keep the county safe.

Another goal of Larson would be to establish a cohesive working relationship with the county’s townships. Larson said joint planning sessions between the county and townships would be a way to create that relationship.

Larson feels he would be a good county commissioner because he has lived and worked in Kandiyohi County his entire life and has relevant Kandiyohi County government experience through his work with the county, EDC and Dovre Township. He also knows what it takes to be a commissioner by watching his father.

“I feel that it is from this impetus of roots that I have the passion and drive to see this county be the best that it can be,” Larson said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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