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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Madison Chamber Candidates Forum: County Commission!

Round III of tonight's Madison Chamber Candidates Forum: our Lake County Commission candidates! Here's a rough approximation of what Republicans Chris Giles, Roger Hageman, and Dan Bohl and Democrats Craig Johannsen and Gene Anderson had to say in the Q&A:

Question 1: What past experiences make you the best candidate for the Lake County Commission?
  • Johannsen: Serving 10 years as commission gives me good perspective.
  • Giles: In my past experience as Lake County States Attorney, I worked with different departments to help solve their problems, advised and observed the commission. Many people don't realize how complex county government can be, since they don't come into contact with all the parts.
  • Hageman: I have lots of experiences, but “I'm not sure any qualify me for the job" [kidding!] In farming, I know what it's like to have floor pulled from under you and have to pull things together to make things work. I'm on church boards, corn producers, soybean producers, other ag associations in county.
  • Bohl: If there's a problem I will talk it to death. [joke!] I can communicate with almost anybody. Last year I subbed for elementary P.E.: having lived through that day, I believe I can be a county commissioner (or run an insane asylum or be president: anything is possible!). I have experience as city commissioner, plus 33 years as coach and teacher. Most importantly, I love people, love helping people. You know that I listen, I respond. “If you can put up with my gab, I will help.”
  • Anderson: Last two years on Lake County Zoning board has been great experience. I know what commissioners deal with. I'm on church boards, cooperative boards. There are things we can work together on.
Question 2: Given county budget restraints, how feel about offering health insurance to elected county officials?
  • Giles: Lake County was one of first to offer this coverage. Many more counties offer it now. It's nice to make it available if officials want to be part; I don't think we should allow candidates to opt out and take the cash. That wasn't an option when I was states attorney; very few counties offer that option. It's not illegal or improper, but commissioners shouldn't get that option as part-time employees.
  • Hageman: “I don't know if I'm for or against it.” Having a larger group is good for premiums. If funds are available, I'd agree with going along with it.
  • Bohl: No. For commissioners, no way. I pay for my own insurance, I can handle it. I've said previously that if the policy continues, I will donate my $3600 opt-out money to the Madison Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Anderson: Health is a big budget item. I'd have to say no, given the way the economy is. There are better ways to use our tax dollars. Commissioners can handle their own health insurance.
  • Johannsen: I was paying for my own insurance before I got the job. It does cost. I'll go along with whatever the rest of the board wants to do.
Question 3: Would each of you support a county inspector to insure county guidelines and ordinances are enforced?
  • Anderson: I have no problem having a county inspector. But is it feasible within our budget? How important is it? Maybe we should have a part-time inspector. I'm not sure we can afford full-time.
  • Johannsen: Yes, it is a needed position. Maybe it's a good problem: growth means more building, means we need an inspector. We can't have buildings too close to right of way and such; better to catch problems right away rather than have to move a building. Funding: maybe create zoning/drainage/weed inspector, increase fees to pay.
  • Giles: A building inspector is needed, especially for new construction and to look for existing violations. No one does that now; it's handled just on a complaint basis. We could make a combined position for building and zoning, maybe even do something in conjunction with the city. Partnering with the city could make a full-time position that can meet the needs of both entities. Funding is an issue; maybe we need to look at building permit fees.
  • Hageman: I agree an inspector could be beneficial. Not everybody is aware of all the codes. Folks doing their own building can be problem. Maybe we should just have it be a part-time position.
  • Bohl: Creating a buildig inspector position is like geothermal heating: very expensive at first, but it pays for itself after so many years. Sure, it'll be tough to pay for the position, but in a few years, an inspector would pay off by eliminating problems. Madison's experience shows it works and is very useful for city gov't. It would help the county, too.
Question 4: What do to make county government more open to county residents?
  • Bohl: “I like this one.” Not a bad idea to change meeting time: people can't come to nine o'clock meetings. What's wrong with going to 5 or 5:30? Doing a cable broadcast costs, but lots of people watch the city commission broadcasts; might be an option for the county. We must always be aware of open meeting laws, people's right to hear and know, right to attend and to respond, to have open communication. We don't have all of the avenues open now.
  • Hageman: [To Mayor Hexom's rephrasing of the question and asking if he has any thoughts on the issue]: “No I don't.” Meeting times: reading the minutes shows that meetings can go long. Unless we're going to hold extra meetings to make sure we cover the agenda, moving to the evenings is going to be difficult. Maybe it's o.k. to do special evening meetings. We could also maybe move meetings to different towns if town-specific items are on the agenda.
  • Giles: Some flexibility in meeting time should be looked at. Maybe we don't need to move every meeting to evening. In the past, meetings have been set in evening when we anticipate lots of public input. Maybe do it once a month. It's important to make meetings open to media through radio or cable TV. Another issue: certain times and places require executive sessions, but we need to reduce and minimize them. People are more confident in open government.
  • Johannsen: We definitely have to follow open meeting rules more stringently. Meeting times: we have done special meetings, and I have no problem with moving meetings to other towns. Radio curently gives good coverage.
  • Anderson: The radio and paper cover it. Maybe the board needs to be more open to the public, maybe use less executive session.


  1. Why would Chris Giles want to be a County Commissioner anyway. He left the state's attorney office to work at DSU and currently makes $96,000 a year plus bennies, his wife is a counselor at the grade school, makes a strong income. There seems to be unknown motive why he wants to be back at the county. Is it to keep an eye on the state's attorney office. What is the motive. Can that be explained.

  2. Lake County better have good reserve funds if Dan Bohl is put on in a couple of weeks. He makes more motions to spend money than anyone at the city. He supports everything as long as we pay for it. The meetings won't be any shorter either.

  3. His Mommy and Auntie own the John Deere store and is soon to be vacatied by James River. How else can he get someone else an economic package to move into a worthless building? Become County Commissioner!

    Also, if memory serves right and someone wanted to do some digging about october/november maybe early december 1988 daily leaders court news has an embarassing moment that his wife was involved in.

  4. Last night's meeting was very interesting. I think Dan would do a very good job in this postion. He knows how to get along with other areas of government to include the ones that don't now. Insurance was a very interesting topic also. If I remember going back through the county commission minutes it seems that Craig was the one that brought it forward to pay themselves the extra $300 per month for not taking the health insurance!! Interesting fact for you all to know.

    Chris would be a good logical person also. GOod business sense, good ideas, and not afraid to stand up for the dollars when it is important. He rbings forward some very unique ideas about TIF districts and how the Ethanol Plant was created. AS far as Annon 0725 states, Why not leave for a better paying job!! He now has a chance to come back and serve the county again, but in a better prospective.

    Gene Anderson, man I got ver concerned about what he was saying. Wait a minute, what was he saying.

    Roger Hageman, seems to be very down to earth and easy person to talk to, but do you think just because you are a farmer all of your life that it makes you a good commissioner. As he points out, roads and the budget are very important items, but does he have what it takes to do the job, maybe so.

  5. Years ago, the County Commission was mainly made up of farmers because they actually set the levy for taxation and they wanted to be represented, same as school boards.

    The State legislature sets the levy now, so the main job of the County is to work with the monies the state allows them to earn each year from fees and taxes. To be a farmers means nothing anymore when it comes to running County Government. We need smart people who can work with others, balance a budget and see what we need in the future, regardless if they are a farmer or any other profession. Being a farmer shouldn't be an automatic ticket to a $12,000 a year seat on the commission.

  6. I was really impressed with Chris and Dan. I wasn't going to vote for Chris, but after last night I changed my mind.

    The County Commission has been loaded with farmers lately, and it's time for a change.

    Dan likes to talk, but thats better than shrugging his shoulders and following the pack.

  7. Want to know what is wrong in America?

    6 comments posted and not one person willing to identify themself.

    Joseph G Thompson

  8. economically clueless, that would be 20 years ago that you are referring to. Do you have that much hate? Also, his wife is not the one running, so who cares. I think you will have to come up with something better than that, or maybe nothing at all.

    Darwin Wollmann

  9. Economically Clueless ---- aka "just clueless and classless." Anyone who is dumb enough to post junk should be dumb enough to leave his/her at the bottom of the post. Maybe someone as intelligent/perfect as you should be running for office.


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