Next week's primary elections will include nonpartisan contests for county commissioner in three of five districts in Carver County.

In District 2, which includes the northeast portion of the county, Cheryl Ayotte and Donald Smith are challenging incumbent Tom Workman.

Vince Beaudette and Jay Swenson are challenging incumbent Randy Maluchnik in District 3 to represent parts of Chaska and Victoria.

Three candidates are running in District 4, the northwest part of the county, where Steven Duske and Frank Long are seeking to unseat incumbent Tim Lynch.

In each race, the top two vote-getters will advance to the November election.

Commissioners earn $43,346 annually, and receive a monthly expense allowance: $615 for the chairman, $540 for the vice chairman, and $515 for the other members.

Candidates were asked the same questions, and their responses have been edited.

DISTRICT 2 (much of Chanhassen and one precinct in Victoria)


Age: 53

Occupation: Legal assistant.

Experience: Strong business background, from secretary to senior manager; Blue Star mom; various volunteer jobs.

Previous candidacy for office: None.

Reason for running: I have not seen any effort or interest to grow the tax base or reduce taxes. I am not confrontational, and I always establish rapport and look for common ground. I know budgets.

Main issues: The county needs to redefine its operations and take a hard look at distribution of resources. It needs more partnering betwen the county and cities to share services. It needs to improve the pay and quality of deputy sheriff officers, and to coordinate more to protect lakes and parks.


Age: 83

Occupation: Self-employed manufacturer's representative in medical industry.

Experience: Business from delivery boy to CEO; Marine service in Korea, 1950-53.

Previous candidacy for office: Have run twice before for Carver County Board.

Reason for running: I've got the experience, and I'm trying to protect my lifestyle and everybody else's in Carver County.

Main issues: Closer attention to school board spending; more investment in transportation, including rail travel; watching the tax climate to be sure it remains under control.


Age: 52

Occupation: Self

Experience: Running businesses in the solid waste industry for 20 years; broad service with civic and professional organizations.

Previous candidacy for office: County commissioner, 10 years; Minnesota House of Representatives, 10 years; Chanhassen City Council, 4 years.

Reason for running: Continue acting as a sentry for taxpayers' dollars.

Main issues: Uncertainty of state and federal funding in the future. Half of Carver County's budget comes from those sources, but they continue to demand programs that they fail to fund. Carver County needs to be prepared for an eventual shortage of funds.

DISTRICT 3 (part of Chaska, two precincts in Victoria, and precinct 2 in Laketown Township)


Age: 65

Occupation: Merchandising management

Experience: Sales, marketing and sales/marketing management in automotive, computer and entertainment industries. Treasurer for Second Congressional District Republican Party 2008-12.

Previous candidacy for office: None.

Reason for running: Government spending and overreach is a problem in Carver County, and has far outpaced the growth of population in the past 10 years.

Main issues: Improve transparency with evening meetings and a webcam so citizens can see how their tax dollars are being spent; do everything possible at the local level to help small businesses flourish.


Age: 57

Occupation: Retired as a staff sergeant after 18 years with the Army National Guard.

Experience: Various positions representing or advocating veterans rights and claims; special concern with post-traumatic stress disorder and brain trauma on veterans and their families.

Previous candidacy for office: County commissioner, 6 years; Chaska City Council, 4 years; Carver County Parks Commission, 2 years; Carver County Planning Commission, 9 years.

Reason for running: Continue working to reduce property taxes for all, including main street businesses.

Main issues: Property tax fairness across all levels, locally and statewide; more cost-effective county government in spite of state and federal intrusion that unnecessarily increases the size of government.


DISTRICT 4 (Waconia and Waconia Township, Watertown and Watertown Township, the city of Mayer and Hollywood Township)


Age: 63

Occupation: Stonemason and craftsman.

Experience: Businessman, city council member, Vietnam veteran, father and grandfather.

Previous candidacy for office: Watertown City Council, 10 years.

Reason for running: I would like to see an influx in public transportation, including use of existing railroad corridors for natural gas or electric transit. We need to make taxes affordable in this troubling time, and we need to lower fees to help businesses expand and prosper.

Main issues: Decreasing home values without a corresponding drop in taxes; stronger efforts to create job growth and save taxpayers' money; greater transparency in government.


Age: 52

Occupation: Landscaper specializing in shorelines and bluff projects.

Experience: I have run a private-sector business for 20 years and I know how to prioritize, meet a budget and wait for capital expenditures until it makes sense.

Previous candidacy for office: None.

Reason for running: Home values have declined, but elected officials have been unable or reluctant to reduce the levy burden on taxpayers. This county rationalizes to avoid having to adjust to fiscal realities.

Main issues: The county has approved projects regardless of need or cost when funding is available from the state, federal or metro sources. Relying on outside sources makes it difficult to make a case for local control when it comes to complying with metro or state mandates about low-income housing, zoning and other decisions. Meetings need to be held during evenings when citizens can attend without taking time off from work.


Age: 46

Occupation: Employee of US Foods for 24 years.

Experience: Lion's Club, Knights of Columbus, avid outdoorsman.

Previous candidacy for office: Carver County commissioner; former Hollywood Township supervisor.

Reason for running: Continue the work I began as commissioner to make the county more cost-conscious and to rein in the "wish list" being promoted by too many in the county.

Main issues: Taxes and transportation.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388