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Two Lakeville residents with hefty experience in the Legislature are vying for a seat on the Dakota County board.
Former senator and representative Chuck Halberg will run against Rep. Mary Liz Holberg to represent the city. Each hopes that past experience in state government and heavy involvement in the area will win the seat.
Halberg was in both bodies as a Republican from Burnsville in the 1980s and early ’90s, later moving to Lakeville.
“I think I have a perspective that’s very unique and very different than most of them,” he said.
While Halberg has worked in the business community since then, Holberg is about to leave the statehouse after nearly 16 years as a Republican legislator. Before that, Holberg served on Lakeville’s City Council.
Both said they’re reaching out to the community to learn more about the area’s needs and residents’ concerns.
They also share a common goal for the county: keeping taxes down.
Halberg said he’s especially concerned with the way the state requires the county to pay for a large portion of projects that it wants done. And funding for those projects sometimes trickles down to small towns that might not be able to afford them, he said.
“I think it puts a tremendous squeeze upon the local units of governments to fund [the state’s] priorities,” he said. “The tension over funding projects is going to become increasingly a problem.”
As commissioner, he said he’ll work to reassess this strategy to lessen the financial strain on cities.
Holberg said keeping taxes low is also a top priority for her and she’s capable of keeping them down, considering her state-level budgeting experience.
“I’m pretty tightfisted with the money, so I’d look for that to continue,” she said.
One way to keep down taxes, she said, is to work to move people who are on welfare toward self-sufficiency so they’re not dependent on public dollars.
“I think anytime that somebody has to depend on government help, we should make sure that we’re providing the appropriate support but also not making them dependent.”
Programs that provide more education or help those with drug dependencies could help people move toward supporting themselves, she said.
Halberg has his own ideas for the community.
Three projects he hopes to work on if he’s elected include building a veteran’s war memorial, creating programs that promote healthy aging for senior citizens, and a county program that emphasizes the importance of fathers’ presence in their families.
Small projects like these build a stronger community, Halberg said, and don’t cost much. “We’re not talking about spending a lot of money here.”
Holberg said she’s excited to get back into local government and focus on the issues that matter most to Lakeville residents. She’s been attending local events and said she will continue to “do my homework” to learn more about the county.
So far, Holberg said she’s been seeing a lot of great things happening in the community. “I think Dakota County is doing a lot of things right,” she said.
The new board member will take the spot of longtime Commissioner Paul Krause of Lakeville, who isn’t seeking re-election after serving since 1995. The election is in November.
Meghan Holden is a Twin Cities freelance writer.