Justin Ahlers (incumbent)
Occupation: Farmer, Director of Public Works
Commissioner District (and hometown): District 1 (Dundee)
What qualifications do you have for county commissioner? I have been honored to serve as district commissioner for the last three and a half years. My experience as a farmer keeps me in touch with the needs with the rural areas. My employment as director of public works for the city of Lismore enables me to understand the needs of the small communities.
What are your top priorities in county government? I would like to continue providing services to the public while remaining cognizant of the levy and the impact it has on our taxpayers. I believe my voting record for the last three and a half years proves that.
County commissioners plan to host a public hearing in August on the potential to enact a half-cent sales tax to generate revenue for road projects. Should a sales tax be implemented? If so, which roads would you prioritize? The board of commissioners is holding a public hearing on Aug. 18 at the Worthington Event Center at 9 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. to discuss this issue. My mind is not made up at this time. I want to hear what my constituents have to say before making a decision. The roads that should be prioritized are Nobles County 54 leading to gravel pits, as well County Road 55 that leads past Maka-Oicu County Park. Nobles County 37 through Bigelow could use work, as well.
A new Nobles County Library is included in the proposed W.E.L.L. project in Worthington. If bonding isn’t approved by state legislators, how should the county proceed? I continue to maintain my position as it pertains to the library. I have not been in favor of this project and still am not. I truly believe it would be in the taxpayers' best interest to remodel the existing building. I believe we could get another 25 years of use out of this facility. In my role as a commissioner, I have worked with the financial aspects of this project and have evaluated the consequences of this project on the taxpayer. I do not believe this project could go forward without increasing the levy. I believe there is better use for the taxpayer dollars.
Occupation: Ag production (crops/livestock)
Commissioner District (and hometown): District 1 (Worthington)
What qualifications do you have for county commissioner? My previous experience includes having serving a county commissioner representing District 1. Prior to being elected county commissioner, I worked for the Minnesota Extension Service in 4-H youth development and as an ag educator in business and finance. My work with youth involved county project meetings, livestock judging and county and state fairs. In my ag position, I did marketing meetings, identified insect pests and worked with farm families to prepare financial statements for mediation.
I served two three-year terms as a deacon at American Reformed Church.
I have operated a farming business since 1973.
Most of my experience has been business-related, and I would bring those experiences to the county board.
One thing that I have enjoyed the last three years is driving the DAU van bringing veterans to their appointments in Sioux Falls. I have listened to their stories and have learned a lot in those two hours. I am humbles by their sacrifices, so that we all enjoy freedom.
With your vote Nov. 3, I would like to be your voice on the county board. I will listen; I will learn. I will work to find sensible solutions to issues facing the county. I will work for sensible spending and control tax impacts. Your vote, your voice.
What are your top priorities in county government? The top priority for the next eight to 12 months is the health and well-being of our employees and citizens due to COVID-19. We are in this together and need to follow CDC guidelines.
We have a number of employees nearing retirement. With the quality employees leaving, we need to recruit employees to continue the quality service our citizens expect.
Roads and bridges are always a high priority.
Listening to our citizen-appointed committees.
County commissioners plan to host a public hearing in August on the potential to enact a half-cent sales tax to generate revenue for road projects. Should a sales tax be implemented? If so, which roads would you prioritize? I am glad to hear the commissioners are planning a public hearing in August on the half-cent sales tax for road projects.
We need to keep up our roads and have a five/10-year road plan in place.
My concern with the half-cent county sales tax is, are we going to hurt our local businesses? Worthington already has a half-cent sales tax, and the county adding another half-cent tax may not seem like a lot, but it may drive people from shopping locally. I am also interested how businesses in our communities react to the imposed half-cent tax.
We need to fund our roads, however, I am not sure if the answer is the half-cent sales tax. I need more information from the public meeting.
To prioritize road projects, I would leave that to public works and the highway department.
A new Nobles County Library is included in the proposed W.E.L.L. project in Worthington. If bonding isn’t approved by state legislators, how should the county proceed? The W.E.L.L. project to move forward for the county depended on it being included in a bonding bill. With no bonding bill approved by state legislators, I think the county should no longer be a part of the W.E.L.L. discussion.
The library was part of the bigger issue of space at the War Memorial building. With the Historical Society moving to the Armory, the library should stay at its current location.
The current library is centrally located in Worthington, in a quiet neighborhood and will meet our needs while the Historical Society moves to the Armory.
At present, we as citizens of the county do not know all the costs to do the renovations at the Armory. Let's get the Historical Society on a solid footing before we further discuss the future of the library.
Board change, and in five years, maybe the board will view the issue differently.
Another concern I had with the W.E.L.L. project is why the county would build another two-story library at a cost (county contribution) of $8.5 million. Library studies are clear that libraries are more efficient on one level. We have a two-story library — why build another?
Also, I have concern with the construction of a library near railroad tracks.
The county needs to let the city and District 518 know of their decision, so they can move forward with their plans. I believe their plans did not depend so much on the bonding bill.