Mike Gamache, Debbie Johnson and Reid Oines will all compete in the Aug. 12 primary election, with the top two vote-getters appearing on the general election ballot to represent District 5 on the Anoka County Board. The district includes parts of Andover, Coon Rapids and a small portion of Fridley.
The seat is currently held by Carol LeDoux, who is not running for re-election.
ABC Newspapers asked the candidates to answer a couple of questions so voters get to know them better in advance of the primary.
MIKE GAMACHE: Age 55; married to Beth for 34 years with two children, Katie and Rob and Rob’s wife, Rosie; resided in Andover since 1985; brand product specialist, General Mills Inc.; served as mayor of Andover since 2001; currently president of North Metro Mayors Association; board member Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Board and Mercy/Unity Hospitals Foundation Board; also served on the Metro Cities Board and QCTV Commission.
DEBBIE JOHNSON: Age 56; mother of two children, Alison, 30, and Russell, 25; member of Epiphany since 1990; former state senator, business owner, sales manager and contractor; served on the Senate tax committee for 10 years, health and human services for seven years and education committee for 10 years; 100 percent lifetime rating from MCCL.
REID OINES: A 33-year Anoka County resident with three adult children. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology. Reid has had a long career with over 20 years creating more efficient and cost effective operations as an engineer or scientist in electronics manufacturing and biological sciences. Now retired, his work experience has ranged from flying airplanes to high-tech operations.
2. What qualities will you bring to the council if elected?
GAMACHE: The qualities I will bring to the role of commissioner are the same qualities I use every day in the
business world and as mayor. It is a common-sense approach based on listening and understanding all aspects of the issue, seeking out advice on issues I may not be as knowledgeable about, and then using the experience I have gained to make the best decision I can for the people of Anoka County. In my 14 years as mayor, I have faced many tough decisions, but if you have the confidence that you have done your homework and that you have all the pertinent information, you can make the right choice. You have to be able to compromise when necessary and to make a stand when it is appropriate, but the bottom line is to get the job done for the people of Anoka County.
JOHNSON: As a state senator from 2000-2010, I authored many local bills, including legislation for the forensic lab at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
Our family owned and operated Blaine Hardware for over 35 years. I am an experienced community leader, familiar with our local issues.
OINES: Reid is a problem solver and will work to find appropriate solutions to the county’s issues. His experience solving problems utilizing root cause analysis can also benefit the county by overseeing the way our tax dollars are being spent on the core services provided.
He is also a good listener, a skill developed while working for Sperry Corporation. This is very important when representing others. Elected officials need to act on behalf of those they are representing and not in their own behalf.
Reid has a history of giving back to the community with 14 years volunteer work coaching youth athletics.
He is fiscally conservative as all elected officials should be. It is the elected
officials’ fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the core services are provided in the county and that the taxpayer dollars are efficiently spent.
Reid is also not a politician. This enhances his ability to see things differently and work to create new ideas and solutions for the county. This will provide a clear choice to the voters if they want a different approach. A non-politician with fresh ideas or the same old politicians with the same old ideas.
3. What is the main emphasis of your campaign?
GAMACHE: My focus will be similar to what I have done in Andover, improving the transportation system in Anoka County and working with businesses in Anoka County to promote what we have and expand opportunities. I have also been an advocate for preserving open space in Anoka County, and I would like to continue to do that on the county board. It is one of the great things about living in Anoka County – the mix we have between suburban living and the more rural open spaces that offer a small town feel that needs to be preserved. Anoka County has a reputation for being a fiscally responsible county, and that is how we did business in Andover as well. As your county commissioner, you can count on me to listen to you, to explain my decisions and to always work hard for you. My record is proof of that.
JOHNSON: To bring common sense values with a focus on accountability to the county residents. I realize the current board has made strides in that direction. The removal of the wheelage tax from the vehicle tab renewal is a good example.
There are other issues, such as the additional sales tax for commuter rail, plus the Regional Rail Authority on our property tax statement.
Transparency in the budget and revenue would be my goal.
OINES: Reid’s main emphasis will be on working to ensure that the county’s core services are provided in an efficient and cost effective manner. Some of the core services that have been cut need to be looked at in order to find new approaches in order to reinstate those services.
He has concerns about the roads and the traffic control systems along with numerous other concerns that the citizens have addressed. These are part of the core services and will need to be addressed.
Reid has always been an advocate for our children and young adults. He wants to continue with that advocacy by creating a proactive approach to the issues our youth currently face that will work to develop a safer environment. Currently our youth face issues that include human trafficking, drug abuse, bullying and homelessness. The current approach dealing with these issues needs to be looked at. It is costly to the taxpayers and to the youth that are affected by these issues. It is time we find ways to come to together and work together as a community.