Four candidates, including incumbent Anoka County Commissioner Andy Westerberg, Blaine, will be on the Tuesday, Aug. 14 primary election ballot for the District 2 seat on the Anoka County Board.
His challengers are Julie Braastad, Ham Lake; Debbie Johnson, Ham Lake; and Mike Jungbauer, East Bethel.
The top two vote-getters will advance to the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election where the winner will serve a four-year term.
District 2 includes Ham Lake, East Bethel, Bethel, four precincts in Andover and two precincts in Blaine.
The ABC Newspapers sent questionnaires to all four candidates. Three sent replies; Johnson did not respond. Following are the responses in alphabetical order.
Braastad: I am a 50-year resident of Anoka County and longtime resident of Ham Lake. My husband Rick and I have two adult daughters, a son-in-law and our first grandchild is 1½ year old.
Currently I am serving my second term on the Ham Lake City Council. Prior to being elected to city council I served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for two years.
I am a certified paralegal with experience in civil litigation, contract law, real estate law, bankruptcy law, estate planning and family law. I also assist my husband in the operations of his electrical contracting business.
Currently I am one of the Ham Lake Fire Department liaisons, am on the executive board of the North Metro Telecommunications Commission and am the senior vice president of the Don Hansen VFW – Ladies Auxiliary. I have been an active member of the Ham Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for the last 15 years, am one of the organizers of the Toys for Troops drive and actively fund-raise for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk. My family has attended Constance Free Church in Andover for 20 years. Being active in my community is extremely important to me.
Jungbauer: I was born in St. Paul and lived there until I was eight years old when my family moved to East Bethel. We had a small farm out there that I worked on whenever I was not in school, that’s where I learned to value of hard work and to always finish what you start. My father and grandfather ran a septic business and I joined them when they would do maintenance and inspections, which is where I got started in the water business. I enlisted in the Army and served on active duty in the U.S.
I was introduced to the carpenters union when I was working for my grandfather and had a chance to learn the views union laborers have. I have been a small business owner in the construction, septic, real estate and now water treatment businesses.
I first ran for mayor of East Bethel in 1994, but lost after a hand recount by one vote. I was then elected to that office in 1998 for one term and elected to the State Senate from District 48 for two and a half terms. I have a reputation in the Senate for always reading the bills and I’m proud to say that.
Westerberg: Anoka County Commissioner, former Republican state legislator for eight years, past Metropolitan Airports Commissioner, past Minnesota Amateur Sports Commissioner National Sports Center, past director of the Fellowship of Christian Golfers, past president North-Metro Life Underwriters Association, former volunteer firefighter, self-employed businessman over 30 years, Toys for Joy volunteer, Spring Lake Park/Blaine Lion, Ham Lake Lion, senior defensive drivers training instructor, AA-degree Anoka-Ramsey Community College, CLU-designation American College, Coon Rapids High School.
Married 36 years to Catherine, four children, two grandchildren. I love to golf, fish, travel and ride my motorcycle.
2. What qualities would you bring to the office of county commissioner?
Braastad: I am a proven conservative leader who brings common sense, integrity and sincerity to the job of serving the public. I know firsthand from serving the taxpayers in Ham Lake what it means to prioritize needs versus wants.
Ham Lake has been the leader in Anoka County in maintaining low taxes and setting precedent for limited government. It has been important to me to maintain Ham Lake’s low tax levels while still providing residents with the necessary essential services. This has come about through good planning and thinking outside of the box. I want to bring my tax reducing ideas and innovative thinking to the county level. In today’s economy, we cannot operate government as usual.
I know the importance of working together to find solutions to outstanding issues. Being a good listener and keeping an open mind while looking at options and ideas are my strengths. I have a strong work ethic and a passion to see Anoka County be the best that it can be and a place that we are all proud to call home.
Jungbauer: I have a reputation among legislators and constituents as being relentless in my research on issues. I have spent over eight years studying and attended national and international conferences, some of which I spoke at, just to understand the fallacy of man-made global warming. I also served an equal time as a ranking member on the Transportation Committee, where I gathered extensive knowledge of our local roads and highways. I have e-mailed out bills to constituents that were to be voted on too quickly for me to read alone, so that they can help me understand it so I could make an educated decision.
I have a moral and ethical line that I will not cross, which is grounded by my religious values; outside of that, I always listen to the input of my constituents and respect their wishes – though I will tell them when I disagree on an issue, but ultimately, I work for them.
Living in this area for nearly 50 years, and serving it as mayor and as a senator, has given me unparalleled understanding of the issues that matter to our community. I have made it a point to constantly remind myself of the people who elected me, and to serve them with the most honesty and integrity that God blesses me with.
Westerberg: Thirty-plus years running a small business with employees gives me insight into how cumbersome high taxes and red-tape can be on developing a business.
Having lived in the county for over 40 years, raised four wonderful children and been a part of many civic activities gives me a strong sense of community.
Serving the last two years as an Anoka County Commissioner has given me insight into the needs of the county and how we can make county government more efficient in providing services. Successful experience as a state legislator, working to complete complex projects, such as the new interchange bridge at Highway 65 and County Road 14. is proof I can work with people, creating a team to accomplish a task.
I am hard working, a good listener and am good at finding innovative solutions to problems.
3. What are the main issues of your campaign?
Braastad: My top priorities will be to stop wasting resources on losing efforts and provide effective and efficient government services.
It is one thing to say that you are fiscally conservative but I believe that actions speak louder than words.
I feel strongly that investing additional money in the Northstar Commuter Rail – Ramsey station was very irresponsible. With the Elk River and the Anoka stations so close, the actual ridership being way below the estimated and the subsidy of each rider being so high, there was nothing fiscally responsible about that decision. The additional $13-plus million that was spent would have been better spent on repairing roads.
Secondly, a combination of new budgeting practices, spending reductions, consolidation and other restructuring will be needed to make Anoka County viable into the future The county board must be committed to maximizing taxpayer value by delivering only necessary government services in the most cost-effective and sustainable manner possible.
Jungbauer: When I look around at what’s going on in our county, I see that the county government is shirking its responsibilities. Transportation issues are very important to my community and our county roads have been in need of serious maintenance. This being an election year, the county commission decided to finally get around to this job. In my view, this should have been an ongoing project, rather than a “do-it-all-at-once” project. A big issue of mine is to make sure the county government keeps a keen eye on county roads that need the necessary maintenance, and do it wisely, and not put it off.
Another big issue that I try to focus on in my campaign is the growing welfare fraud within our county. Immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are eligible for welfare benefits after 30 days of residence. It is the county’s job to disperse those welfare benefits and that is not the way we should be doing it. We should review our welfare policy and structure so as to lift people out of poverty, instead of keeping people from being productive members of society. I believe that the county commission must focus on its duties, rather than politics.
Westerberg: Taxes – We lowered the levy for the first time in 30 years, but we must do more. I will work to reduce spending and taxes to put more money in the pockets of the taxpayer. During my second term, I will continue to change the way Anoka County does business.
My personal goals include:
A reduction in general fund expenditures each year for the next four years. I would like to see this accomplished through continued cost savings efforts based on improving efficiency, consolidations, eliminations and the smart use of technology.
Taking a lead role in discontinuing Anoka County’s participation in the Northern Lights Express rail program, focusing our investments on roads, bridges and flexible transit methods like buses instead of rail.
Continue efforts to reduce meth and heroin use and promote public health and safety.
I will work to promote the assets of our county displaying it as a great place to live, work, and raise a family. It has been an honor to serve as your commissioner these last two years. We are making a difference, as the 7.43 percent reduction in tax levy without diminishing services demonstrates. I humbly ask for your support.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]