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Rubis, Handzus, Tusa to square off in Jackson County primary

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JACKSON -- Residents of District 1 in Jackson County will vote in Tuesday's primary for a county commissioner, deciding which names will be on the November election ballot.

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Incumbent Craig Rubis and hopefuls Mike Handzus and William "Bill" Tusa have all filed for the seat.

The Daily Globe asked all three candidates the same four questions. Here's a look at their responses:

Craig Rubis, incumbent

Why are you running for Jackson County Commissioner?

"I am running for reelection for commissioner in District 1 because I believe I can provide the leadership to give the county many opportunities to move forward in a positive way. I have been involved with transportation issues at the regional and state level and this has helped bring many dollars for roads and bridges to Jackson County.

"I have also worked with businesses and industries to provide jobs for our citizens. My work with economic development projects has helped gain grant dollars for water and sewer projects. There are many other areas that my involvement has helped make Jackson County a great place to live."

Tell us about yourself: address, occupation, family, hobbies/interests.

"My wife Karin and I have farmed our third generation farm near Lakefield for more than 30 years. We have three grown married children: Nicole, Anthony, and Dannielle, and our youngest daughter, Margret is a college student.

"I belong to many farm organizations and have served in many leadership positions over the years. I am a former 4-H leader and also a township supervisor in Hunter Township. I have also served as a council member at my church, Holy Trinity for over 30 years."

Explain the experiences or qualifications you possess that make you a good candidate for this position.

"I believe that the 16 years of service as a County Commissioner gives me great experience to continue to deal with all the issues. I have spent many hours visiting with citizens about the issues. I try to pass along the facts about what the county is doing and I listen to the input that citizens have for me.

"I have never been afraid to tackle the many difficult issues, and I feel that Jackson County is a great place to live, in part because of some of the leadership I helped provide and the decisions that we have made."

What would you say is the most important issue in Jackson County at this time? Explain.

"The biggest problem the county faces is the unfunded mandates the state passes on to us along with tight budgets. The state and federal government continues to mandate many services the county provides but they are reducing the funding they provide for the service. This forces the county to find other ways to deal with our providing these services. We have been working hard to provide the services as efficiently as possible. We are sharing with our neighbor and reducing when possible."

Mike Handzus

Why are you running for Jackson County Commissioner?

"To represent the views of the individuals of the first district and provide a conservative, common-sense approach to county government."

Tell us about yourself: address, occupation, family, hobbies/interests.

"I live at 73833 Highway 86, Lakefield. I was raised on a farm in Minneota Township and am a life-long resident of Jackson County.

"I'm married with one son -- he's started college. My hobbies are old cars and alternative energy sources."

Explain the experiences or qualifications you possess that make you a good candidate for this position.

"I farm, with past experience as a department supervisor for Teledyne Aerospace Systems for 10 years. I drove truck over the road, first as part-time and as an owner-operator for about seven years total."

What would you say is the most important issue in Jackson County at this time? Explain.

"It would probably be the county government spending. And then, keeping individuals informed on the issues, so that the best decision can be made to reduce or eliminate those expenses that are not deemed necessary or important to first district and other county residents."

William "Bill" Tusa

Why are you running for Jackson County Commissioner?

"I would like to see a change in the way in which the county board conducts its business, with the board more active in the formation of the agenda for the meetings, also more discussion and clarification of the issues at hand. I would like to see more direct contact with department heads and interaction within departments in which county employees would have direct and constructive input in their departments to make our county government a team effort. On issues with a large tax impact I would like to have more public forums to get the consensus of the people and be more responsive to them."

Tell us about yourself: address, occupation, family, hobbies/interests.

"I have been married to my wife Vicki for 35 years. She is employed at Extended Ag Services in Lakefield. We have two daughters who are both college graduates. Rebecca, our older daughter is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, married and a supervisor/trainer for Merrill Corporation in St. Paul. Her husband Dave is a graphic artist with Merrill also. They have honored us with our first grandchild, Madeline, who is so very precious and a great hobby for Grandma and Grandpa all within herself. Our younger daughter Kristie, a graduate of Montana State, is married and is a paramedic specialist for Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames, Iowa and Story City, Iowa and a volunteer paramedic for Story County. Her husband Ryan is an engineer assistant manager, at Martin Marietta, an underground limestone mine just north of Ames.

"I have been farming since 1968 with my brother.

"I enjoy reading, studying new concepts in building technology and quiet times with my family.

"I enjoy meeting and talking with people and learning from their experiences."

Explain the experiences or qualifications you possess that make you a good candidate for this position.

"Jackson County lifetime resident; graduated Jackson High School 1967; graduated Minnesota West 1969; served six years in the Minnesota Army National Guard; member American Legion Post 130; married 35 years, two daughters; chairman Jackson Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee for three Years; Jackson County Soybean Growers Board Chairman; Jackson County Crop Improvement Chairman; trustee of Good Shepherd Catholic Church; eighth year as Middletown Township treasurer; willing to listen to others thoughts and opinions; not afraid to fight for the rights of Jackson County."

What would you say is the most important issue in Jackson County at this time? Explain.

"The management of our county government is one of the most important issues. The issue currently at hand, the resource center, is a problem because we have failed to recognize the usefulness and quality of available space. This problem has been brought on by some architect's idea that the whole center needs to be gutted to be useful, and yet other architects and contractors looked at the center and asked why in the world are you even considering tearing down this building! The independent architects and contractors remodeling estimates were also much lower than current comparisons."

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