Of the many topics candidates for Scott County board addressed in last week's forum, these answers -- edited to capture the gist -- stood out as outlining some crisp differences of opinion. All the candidates appeared, but only those in contested races are quoted here.
HOW TO IMPROVE INNER WORKINGS OF BOARD?
Bring open forum back. It's important to hear what residents are saying, no matter what it is, and even at election time. When the gavel drops and people are told to sit down, rudely, [as he believes opponent Wolf did], it's unacceptable and I will make sure that doesn't happen.
The workings are fine. There are some disagreements, we sometimes see things differently, but we are productive. [As for open forum,] people can come up, but when it's taxpayer-funded cameras, to get up and support candidates, that's not our role in government. It's there for county business.
The key is respectful dialogue and consensus. We all come from different districts and have different ideas, but it can be done in a thoughtful manner.
All these citizen advisory groups [the county has 16] -- they are the ones I think who can set direction and priorities. I promote that as much as possible, along with volunteer efforts that put government on the back burner.
The problem is lack of trust and respect, and part of returning it is being a full-time commissioner participating in committee assignments and pulling your weight. When it comes time for commissioners to report in at meetings on what they've done, 98 percent of the time the incumbent says, "Nothing to report." That would change.
You can't fool the people of District 1. If I weren't doing my job, I wouldn't be here all these years. We have five different personalities on the board, all passionate about their district, and that's the simple dynamics of it. If you think we're so dysfunctional, come on a tour bus with us. We get along just fine.
WHAT ROAD PROJECTS TO PRIORITIZE?
A new [Hwy. 101] bridge for Shakopee is very important, and County Road 8 -- we need to get the eastern part straightened out. There are many accidents, and we need wider shoulders -- when you go off the road, you are really off the road.
I echo that. County Road 8 wanders into my district and it is dangerous. Long-term, it should continue on to 169.
Belle Plaine needs a bridge over 169. We're asking folks to go way out of their way to get across. It's two towns essentially, and downtown's troubles are partly because one side can't get over.
Hwy. 101 is a priority, but also education. Every four years you should have to take a two-hour course on slowing people down, avoiding distractions, cellphones, texting, impaired driving. Education is so important.
Hwy. 101, and a second river crossing. County Road 16 needs updating. We may need a new high school in Shakopee at some point and should build roads appropriate for that.
Crossings of Hwy. 169 in Belle Plaine and Jordan, the 101 bridge. County Road 8 is an obvious problem.
HOW TO INCREASE QUALITY OF LIFE?
I don't want any more people in Shakopee or Scott County. I hear people say if Shakopee doesn't grow to 75,000 we've failed, but it's quality, not quantity. Neighbors knowing neighbors. Bigger is not better.
Some of us who've moved here recently have done many things to help the community. It's a nice place, the best of both worlds: A small town with access to the metro. We need to focus on safe, healthy, livable communities as our goals, including parks and libraries.
Taxes are too high. Roads can be improved. We need to limit government: It takes months to get a permit to put a building in when in some places it's weeks. People love parks and libraries, and we just have opened a new one of each.
Public safety: At times there are only two deputies on duty. Human services: As the population grows older, there will be growing needs. Parks: Opening Spring Lake Park was great, acquiring land for Cedar Lake park was important; it was our only chance to grab it.
Parks, public safety -- we have a lot of land area for two deputies -- and human services. I'm a funeral director and meet with elderly people, and that's one of the most important human aspects.
Let's do get behind law enforcement, but quality of life is also having or not having a job. We need to attract good-paying jobs to the county.
Government is getting too big -- too many entitlements, we spend too much money. [He read an editorial from an outstate paper arguing:] Government cannot give anyone anything that hasn't been taken from someone else. When half the people expect government to take care of them, it's the beginning of the end of any nation.
I'm self-employed with an engineering background and a speciality in project management. I collaborate, look at budgets, resources, figure out how to make things better, and these skills would make me a good addition to the board.
I'm dedicated to this job, active in the community, go to lots of meetings. I love it and would like to continue doing it.
My father said, "Stop complaining and take action." I've lived in the district 23 years and have held significant management positions. I'm not looking for a job, but rather wish to bring honesty and integrity to the board.
I take this job seriously, I really do. My business is here, and when problems come up I go to the house, go to the farm, talk through the issues, in seven townships. I can't always fix everything, but I sit at the kitchen table and try and work it out.
I was born and raised in Belle Plaine and have lived in the area 50 of my 53 years. I would take this role seriously and treat it as a full-time job -- pour myself into it. I'm keenly aware I would represent seven townships, but also cities -- New Prague, Belle Plaine, Jordan, part of Shakopee.
David Peterson • 952-746-3285