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ELECTION GUIDE: Carlton County Commissioner

 

October 21, 2022

Carlton County Commissioner candidates Mark Thell (Left) and Susan Zmyslony (Right)

CARLTON COUNTY COMMISSIONER

Mark Thell (Incumbent)

Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications. (Limit 50 words)

Lifelong resident of County, Enlisted United States Air Force, Retired Potlatch Machine operator. Family farmer direct marketing grass fed beef, pork and chicken. Served as elected supervisor for the Carlton County Soil and Water District before being elected County Commissioner in 2018. Married with four adult children and seven grandchildren.

What made you decide to run for county commissioner this year? (Limit 50)

I have the drive and rural values to best serve our Fourth District residents.

Taxes are going up every year. How can the county responsibly keep taxes affordable for property owners? (Limit 125 words)

One, growing the tax base, an example is in 2023 with the Enbridge line three Pipeline coming on the tax rolls and many more new housing units being occupied. Second, continue seeking additional state and federal revenue to support their mandates. One example is successfully winning the bonding dollars for Twin Lakes Township Hwy 210 waterline project, I have been lobbying for State/Fed dollars for 20 years and I will continue to do so to help support our residences. Third, managing expenses, just as I do in my own business, I am diligent on how and where dollars are spent so that the residences of our county receive the benefit of their hard earned tax dollars.

What are your thoughts on the $66 million justice center, the new combined jail and courthouse facility under construction? (Limit 100 words)

This facility is the result of the Department of Corrections mandating closure of our current jail. The new facility will combine strengths found in other Justice Centers built in the past 10 years. These include public safety, worker safety and earth energy capture reducing long term energy costs.

Additionally, the county has received $2 million state bonding to cover some of the costs of the female offender program which will be part of the jail providing the only female programing in NE Minn.

Elaborate on something you think the current county board has handled well over the past two years. (Limit 75 words)

Commissioners stayed on the job during Covid. We masked up and held public meetings. We supported staffs' drive-thru vaccination program which received national attention.

Name one other issue facing Carlton County that you think is important and how should it be addressed? (Limit 100 words)

Staffing shortages, our factories, local contractors, service industry and others are hiring. Additionally, our county has numerous retirements coming up that require trained replacements.We are seeing an influx of families moving here for the secure environment and high quality of life. I will work to further market this high quality of life both in state and out of state to attract new residences to fill our workforce needs.

Why should people vote for you? (Limit 25 words)

For the last four years, I put our residents first and will continue to because the health and well being of our people and businesses is my top priority.

Susan Zmyslony

Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications. (Limit 50 words)

Lived in Carlton County since 1988. Past Carlton County Commissioner, Barnum School Board and Special Education Coordinator. Children attended and graduated from Barnum Schools. Carlton County Historical Society President, member of Carlton Area Lions Club, Rotary, United Way, Barnum Community Club, and Hanging Horn Lakeshore Management Association.

What made you decide to run for county commissioner this year? (Limit 50)

We need someone to ask difficult questions regarding spending and finances and is a true representative of District 4. The last four years, multiple people asked me to run again. When residents have a question, we need a commissioner who will answer the phone. Regrettably, that has been a problem.

Taxes are going up every year. How can the county responsibly keep taxes affordable for property owners? (Limit 125 words)

Our task is to be fiscally responsible at all times and to avoid a budgetary crisis. It is critical to work together to decrease spending and to provide the services expected for the constituents of Carlton County. I will ask for data to prove a need in expenditure and will encourage the board to continue to evaluate all retiring positions, using the most up-to-date technology, and reorganizing service wherever possible to lower costs. Review or time study each position for verification and to provide justification of its return on investment. The Board needs to determine the needs of our citizens are met efficiently and not extraneously. Tighten the belts of county spending and act accordingly. A budget set is a budget set.

What are your thoughts on the $66 million justice center, the new combined jail and courthouse facility under construction? (Limit 100 words)

Six years ago, the board began the process of thoroughly investigating all options for the justice system. Currently in our community there is a huge division of support regarding the new justice system, however, it was approved unanimously by the board and now is the time to move forward. What we need to do as a county, is to work hard to make sure the new justice system does not drain our pockets and develop ways to promote our services and create revenue.

Elaborate on something you think the current county board has handled well over the past two years. (Limit 75 words)

The County came together during the pandemic, stayed on top of the changes, and adjusted accordingly when needed. The drive through vaccination clinics were innovative and needed for those choosing the vaccination. Thanks to a couple of commissioners assisting with this task.

Name one other issue facing Carlton County that you think is important and how should it be addressed? (Limit 100 words)

The one thing we need to do is to diversify our economy and job situations. We need to grow jobs in small, medium, and large businesses, including new startups and working with existing businesses. Our ability to develop and promote the business interests of the county and encourage the development of the county's employment and tax base needs to improve. The first step in this process is to revise and update the Economic Development Authority with new ways to promote business interests in the county and to work hard to encourage businesses to consider our county. (96)

Why should people vote for you? (Limit 25 words)

Because I ensure all community members and county employees feel respected, informed, heard, and involved in decisions and I will always return a phone call.

 
 

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