Carlton County board candidate: Gary Peterson
August 7, 2020
Q What in your personal background, characteristics and qualifications makes you good for this job?
A I was born and raised on a Carlton County farm where my parents instilled in me the value of hard work and treating others with respect. My education in government, teaching, counseling, and coaching, together with my many years of work and life experiences have made me a thoughtful, compassionate and dedicated public servant. As a recent retiree, I have enjoyed spending my time working and serving as a Carlton County Commissioner.
Q What motivated you to run for commissioner?
A I ran for commissioner out of a desire to see that the tax dollars of our hardworking citizens were spent in a fiscally and socially responsible manner. That challenge is even greater with current jail needs, broadband challenges, utility tax lawsuits, etc. - all under the shadow of COVID-19.
Q What do you think are the top two issues facing Carlton County and how would you go about tackling those?
A I have always believed that property taxes are too high in Carlton County. We must continue to find a balance between providing excellent county services while holding the line on property taxes. Carlton County does not have a huge tax base, so we must support existing businesses and encourage new developments. We are required (by the state) to deliver many mandated services, which are often underfunded or unfunded. The biggest challenge facing Carlton County today is our jail situation. Jail projects are never popular. The MN Department of Corrections gave Carlton County a sunset letter requiring us to update or replace our facility. We must do this right. We have conducted a jail study and hired a consultant to make sure we are good stewards of county tax dollars. I support funding a new or remodeled jail in a fiscally responsible manner.
The pandemic has demonstrated our drastic need to improve broadband in the county. People working from home, telemedicine and our students need this to happen. We are working with the state legislature, the governor, Fond du Lac Band and the federal government to explore every option and alternative to fund these projects.
Q Name something you think the county board has handled well over the past two years.
A When I became commissioner I was a big proponent of the half-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects. I pushed to get major road improvements in western Carlton County. Many visitors and tourists help to carry this burden. We have made progress but we still have much to do.
Q What is one thing you want voters to know about you?
A I have listened and responded to hundreds of phone calls and emails trying to help people with their concerns. I am proud that I have never missed a county board meeting. It would be an honor and privilege to continue serving you as commissioner. Remember, I work for you.