Incumbent Anoka County Commissioner Dan Erhart has been challenged by Coon Rapids City Councilmember Scott Schulte in Anoka County Board District 7.
Erhart: I am a results-oriented small business owner.
I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of science degree.
I’m active in the community, belonging to MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce, Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce, Coon Rapids Lions, Anoka Rotary and St. Stephen’s Church.
My wife, Kathy, retired from Mercy Hospital. We’ve made our home in Anoka County for more than 40 years.
I’m qualified to be a commissioner because of my variety of career experiences, including working for small to large companies and managing intergovernmental efforts.
I’m the top candidate because I’ve learned about the needs and opportunities in the county through my commitment — with nearly a 100 percent meeting attendance record in my years of public service.
I’ve represented county residents and businesses at the regional, state and federal levels, successfully fighting for our funding needs.
I’m proud of the county’s financial health.
For several years, Anoka County has been one of the lowest taxed of all 87 Minnesota counties.
We’ve earned a high bond rating which saves taxpayers money.
It takes a delicate balance of investing in infrastructure and keeping the lid on spending to accomplish these enviable positions of low taxes and high bond ratings.
Schulte: Scott Schulte was born and raised in Coon Rapids. He is married with five children and eight grandchildren.
Scott currently owns and operates a successful 54-year-old family run “old fashioned service station” Hi-Ten Service Center and has been employed there for 40 years.
Scott has 12 years of service on the Coon Rapids City Council as mayor pro-tem and councilman-at-large.
He serves on the Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Council and is a member of the homelessness elimination project in Anoka County.
Scott also serves on the board of the Coon Rapids Crime Prevention Association and on the board of the First Advantage Bank.
His service also includes being a director on the board of the Coon Rapids Rotary Foundation and the Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation.
Scott worked as the treasurer and trustee of the Church of the Epiphany for Rev. Bernard Reiser and is an active member of the Coon Rapids Rotary Club and a past member of the Lions club.
Scott is the past chairman of the Anoka Technical College Automotive Advisory Board and past chairman of the Union 76 Dealer Council.
Scott was a past Cub Scout, Webelos and Boy Scout.
2. What should be the priorities of the county board and why?
Erhart: The county board should have a long-term plan for how to make and keep Anoka County the best place to live, work, play, go to school and retire.
Competition for resources is fierce at all levels of government.
Those who are passionate about their communities and persistent, like me, succeed in delivering results.
Anoka County deserves a 21st century transportation system.
I envision more options to connect residents, employees, students and seniors to the new interchange near Target Field in Minneapolis.
In 2014, the interchange will have 500 trains and 1,900 bus connections daily.
We should pursue a second rail line in Anoka County headed north.
A second line would trigger track improvements that would result in more service on the Northstar Commuter Rail line as well.
I envision Northstar going from 12 trains to more than 30 train trips every weekday, if we aggressively grow our regional transit system.
With that growth comes a major transit hub in Anoka County that will foster more choices in housing and jobs.
Working together with our communities, businesses and other levels of government, we can continue to make accomplishments in human services, education, transportation and public safety.
Schulte: My primary concern is infrastructure and roads and bridges and reducing the county’s debt load.
Our county is aging and with that comes degradation of roads, sewers, water mains and curb and gutter.
Maintenance and replacement is vital to keep our county safe and increase the quality of life for everyone.
Increasing capacity of our major thoroughfares is critical to the advancement of Anoka County as a commercial and industrial hub, which will help keep down residential property taxes.
Also of concern is the budget of Anoka County and its debt service.
The ability to “hold the line” on excessive spending while maintaining core services at a level that is expected by its residents and businesses is my priority.
Anoka County must find a way to prioritize and still excel and soar above our competition (neighboring counties). It can be done.
3. What role should the county board play in stimulating economic development in Anoka County?
Erhart: Roles including collaborating with others and providing necessary infrastructure.
A well trained work force is essential.
That’s why I fought hard to keep the technical college open in Anoka when a previous governor’s administration threatened to close it.
I felt it also was important to continue the innovative STEP program housed in the technical college.
Transportation investments move people and products more efficiently.
Road improvements, including the Hanson Boulevard./Highway 10 interchange, Bunker Lake Boulevard and Main Street (CSAH 14), require negotiations and innovative financing.
Northstar Commuter Rail took a dozen years of 30 governmental units working together to earn 50 percent federal funding and launch service.
I was honored to lead the effort for many of those years.
Public safety is important in maintaining thriving communities.
Amenities such as an 11,000-acre park system, libraries and access to human services are also key for attracting and retaining employees and employers.
We have a long track record of maintaining low taxes — one of the lowest in all 87 counties — while balancing investments in our infrastructure that will ensure future generations are successful.
If re-elected, I would like to investigate forming a county organization to pursue new businesses or expansion within the county.
Schulte: The board should make the economic “playing field” level for all businesses.
Setting up programs like economic gardening and business retention and expansion programs go a long way toward incentivizing companies to locate here or expand here.
The cost to the taxpayer is minimal and the rewards are beneficial in property tax savings and increased property values.
My political philosophy is very simple.
Be vigilant in my accessibility and accountability to the people of Anoka County, be transparent in all that I and the county do, and be responsive to those that require my help and assistance. Govern with integrity.
Government can never be run exactly like a business but it should be structured to run more efficiently with accountability to the taxpayers.
The taxpayers are the stockholder in the county and should be treated more like the investors they are.
I am a strong believer in the mantra “I would never ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”
This is a business philosophy that carries over to the government very well.
Those in office too long, lose sight of these simple concepts.