Smith to challenge incumbent supervisors Brockshus and Skow
Smith to challenge incumbent supervisors Brockshus and Skow
Incumbent Clay County supervisors Delmar "Del" Brockshus and Joe Skow will be vying for two seats on the board, along with challenger Bradley Smith.
Brockshus, 73, is the founder and president of Del's Garden Center. He and wife Charin have three children and 10 grandchildren.
Joe Skow, 60, of Spencer, is a retired Iowa State Patrol sergeant with 35 years of law enforcement experience. He and wife Sue have two children and five grandchildren.
Smith, 37, of rural Spencer, works for an electrical wholesale distributor and operates Cabin Fever Farm with his wife, Amy. The two have a 3-year-old son and are expecting twins in April.
All three candidates answered the following questions for The Daily Reporter.
Why do you think you are qualified to serve as a Clay County supervisor?
Brockshus: The primary duty of the "Board of Supervisors" is to prepare and manage a budget and to establish policy. Prior to serving on the board I was a member of the Spencer Community Schools Board of Education for 12 years performing much the same duties.
I have 32 years of experience establishing and managing public budgets. I'm fully aware I'm but a steward of public funds and I take that responsibility seriously. I believe all conflicts can be negotiated and I believe I can disagree in an agreeable fashion.
I humbly serve with the conviction that my wisdom gained by age and experience, my knowledge gained by study and the free time I have available and is required, will allow me to continue my service to the residents of Clay County.
Skow: My years on the State Patrol, several years on the Spencer City Council, and my last four years on the Board have provided the experience and qualifications to represent fellow Clay County citizens. I supervised employees for 10 years as a Sergeant on the Patrol and making decisions was a critical part of the job.
Fortunately, on the Board of Supervisors we have the luxury of being able to discuss matters before making decisions. I have been able to stand up for the taxpayers in our county and help change the course on over-spending. I have represented constituents on several occasions, not always successfully, but I have gone to bat for folks that I thought had a legitimate concern.
We have worked with citizens, town representatives, and other county governments more effectively to make Clay County one of the best spots in the state and beyond to live and raise a family.
I have traveled with the Betterment Committee to other communities to see what has worked for them, which we might try to replicate and to see what retail opportunities other communities have that may be a good match for our area.
Smith: I know what it means to work hard. I have what it takes to achieve end results! Being a business owner I know how to interact with the public in a positive manner, I understand what is involved to create a budget and stick to it! The lord gave me two ears and one mouth for one reason. The taxpayers in Clay County need and are asking for just that; someone to listen! I have deep roots in Clay County. I Care for Clay County. I want our children to raise their family in Clay County! Clay County is home!
What do you see as major challenges facing the county and how would you like to address those challenges as a county supervisor?
Brockshus: People! First, for many years I've watched the population of Clay County and the schools within our county decline. Agriculture, the backbone of our county, has evolved from four families per section to four sections per family and while this is positive for agriculture it has had a negative effect on the agriculturally supported and retail businesses within Clay County.
In order to grow the population of Clay County and the schools within the county we need to create jobs ... agricultural, industrial and retail jobs! I've attempted, along with my fellow board members, to accomplish this by the establishment of a Revolving Loan Fund. By using Local Option Tax Dollars (not taxes on your property) we've made stop gap loans to entrepreneurs that have created 60 full time and 78 part-time jobs within Clay County.
Cooperation between the City and County has created new housing initiatives in Spencer and throughout Clay County, all of which create more jobs and increase tax base. More needs to be accomplished to increase the population of Clay County.
Second, Clay County has had a long tradition of caring for those individuals, who through no fault of their own, are poor, intellectually disabled or afflicted with chronic mental illness. State and federal mandates now threaten our ability to maintain this level of care. Several counties within the state now have waiting lists for those who are chronically mentally ill; services to the intellectually disabled provided by agencies such as The Sunshine Center here in Spencer, Village Northwest in Sheldon and Hope Haven in Rock Valley and others may have to curtail their activities due to of lack of funding.
I'm concerned that folks with mental illness may be relegated to walk the streets or worse yet be incarcerated in our county jails because that state and federal government won't allow local government raise levies to fund these services. I'm concerned that those individuals with intellectual disabilities may lose the level of independence they've achieved by working in supported employment situations at work sites in our county and surrounding counties because state and federal government won't allow local government to raise the levies to fund these services based on political expediency rather than Christian concern for our less fortunate. I strongly feel it is our duty to care for those who cannot care for themselves. In Clay County "we take care of our own." Always have ... always should!
Skow: Our major challenge at the moment is the cost of providing mental health services. The Legislature, with good intentions, changed the way we do business regarding Mental Health funding, but in their haste, didn't provide much guidance.
Without going into a lot of detail, I am confident we will work through it and will talk with State legislators to complete what needs to be done. The last things we want is for our mentally ill to be stuck on a waiting list which has happened in other parts of the state, or not have sufficient funding to those providing treatment.
Another challenge is unbudgeted, unexpected expenses. For example, we recently had a bridge in southeast Clay County get struck by an uninsured driver. Repair to those damages and other repairs could run $200,000, which we do not have budgeted.
And, of course, getting the jail completed within budget is a priority. I have been involved greatly with this project and hope to see it through and am committed to doing everything possible to stay within budget. So far, so good.
Smith: It seems it has always been a major concern and challenge to attract new industry to Clay County and to keep small hometown businesses growing. Even though Clay County has always had a positive role in partnering with all the towns within the county to help them flourish, it can be advantageous to try new ideas! A modern professional approach and thinking outside of the box at times could be a welcomed success to the Clay County Board of Supervisors!
How would you continue to provide quality services to the area knowing the dollar doesn't stretch as far as in previous years?
Brockshus: I'm so proud of our elected officials, department heads and their staff members who do such a diligent job of serving the citizens of Clay County. Whether it's the guys operating the motor graders or snow plows, the conservationist providing recreational opportunities, the ladies and gentlemen providing services in the courthouse and administration building or the sheriff and his deputies who keep us safe and provide protection for the residents of Clay County ... they understand that we're in the business of service to the public.
Even though the cost of labor, equipment, fuel and needed supplies continue to increase our offices and departments consistently operate under budget. The concept of "use it or lose it" is unheard of in Clay County. At the same time Clay County is recognized state-wide as an innovator in technology and leading-edge program services. This evolves because of the leadership and dedication of all elected officials, department heads and employees who understand their role in county government. Clay County has a rich tradition and history of conservative values and consistent service.
Skow: Fortunately we have completed most of our major capital improvement projects over the last couple of years so we should not have any more large expenditures there.
We have had excellent cooperation with other elected officials as far as submitting reasonable budgets. We have a target amount we want to maintain in the general fund, so there have been a couple of times we have asked officials to resubmit funding requests, which has resulted in saving several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Each elected official has his/her own budget and once it is approved, we as a board cannot dictate how it is spent. We will continue to share equipment with the City of Spencer when reasonable, and explore other cost saving opportunities. We have worked with the Spencer Hospital, Chamber of Commerce and others to avoid duplicating services.
Smith: Clay County has so many opportunities for businesses to grow and to locate here! We need to continue to work together in order for success.
Working together and forming great ideas to promote Clay County doesn't have to cost much. With today's technologies and social medias Clay County can connect with thousands of people at almost no extra costs.
As long as I am employed with my current employer, I will be able to save the Clay County tax payers up to $40,000 for my first term just by declining the health insurance offered to all the members on the Board of Supervisors!
What would you like to see as priorities?
The good life! Communities and residents within the county who grow, have good educations and live as stable families in secure homes, also citizens who feel protected and safe within the confines of their homes and unencumbered by government interference.
Continued help and hope for those who experience difficulties ... given in such a way that all maintain their dignity and independence.
Services provided to our residents in an efficient and effective manner. Good jobs and growth in the agricultural, industrial and retail sectors.
My priority is that I, with the help of others, might see you achieve your dreams and aspirations come to fruition. I'd appreciate your vote on Nov. 6. Thank You!
Skow: My priorities would include the following:
- Keep working with other entities and private enterprise to bring good paying jobs in to Clay County.
- To get to a point where we could actually lower our tax levies.
- To keep Clay County as a destination, and not a place to drive through.
Smith: The voters are electing me to the Board of Supervisors to listen to them and act upon their behalf! I want to learn the county budget. I will talk with the employees of Clay County and offer an open door policy to them. As a Clay County supervisor, I will seek new ideas and build professional relationships with the citizens of Clay County to encourage the growth of our County.