There will be a new representative for East Otter Tail on the county board next year--for the first time since the last century. One thing is certain as far as the outcome of the County Board election: The winner will be Doug.
Longtime Commissioner Syd Nelson, who served 26 of the last 30 years, announced his retirement last spring.
So, on Nov. 4, voters will elect Doug to the District One county seat.
There are two Dougs on the ballot: Doug Ackling and Doug Huebsch.
Both are businessmen, both from the Perham area.
Self-employed in construction--including a record of building about 100 miles of Otter Tail County roads--Ackling believes he has the background to serve the county well. Since his road construction work was largely with governmental units, he is familiar with the operations of a township, city and county.
"I'm very accustomed to working with boards," said Ackling. "I feel very qualified to do the job."
Meanwhile, the other Doug is a longtime turkey-grower and businessman.
"I don't have any issues...I'm not angry with anything," said Doug Huebsch. "I don't know all the answers, but I'm willing to ask questions and work hard to represent Otter Tail County District 1."
Otter Tail County's District 1 includes the townships of Blowers, Butler, Corliss, Dead Lake, Edna, Gorman, Hobart, Homestead, Newton, Paddock, Perham, Pine Lake, and Rush Lake.
Cities within the district are Dent, New York Mills, Perham and Richville.
Outgoing Commissioner Syd Nelson has been involved in government and public service his entire life. He served on the Paddock Township Board for 20 years prior to his 26 years on the Otter Tail County Board. His county service was interrupted by four years as a State Representative in St. Paul.
Candidates Huebsch and Ackling both responded to questionnaires from the Enterprise Bulletin and New York Mills Herald.
Their responses are printed below.
Otter Tail County Board
Occupation, work experience:
Self-employed in the construction industry for 40 years.
High School graduate- 3 years college.
Served in the US Army (Berlin Crisis).
Past membership in Rotary Club, served on board.
Worked on various Rotarian projects.
Served on church and school boards and volunteered on various committees.
Past member of Chamber of Commerce, Booster club and Ducks Unlimited.
Married with three daughters, Teri Langlie, Dilworth Elementary School teacher; Tami Boyer, self-employed with "Tami's Angels" in Fargo, ND; and Traci Ackling, in heaven.
What do you feel are the county's top priorities or objectives at this time?
There are so many issues that the county board works with that it is difficult to prioritize them. To name a few would be:
Deteriorating community roads and bridges
Protecting our lakes and rivers
Land use (junkyard ordinances)
Solid waste (refuse burner)
What, if any, concerns do you have with the county now, and what ideas would you bring to the table as a county commissioner?
Among my concerns:
1) Taxes! Taxes! Taxes!! A slow down of the rate of county government expansion, which ultimately results in higher taxes.
2) Allow more city and township input and influences.
3) Improve public relations between various county departments and the citizens of Otter Tail County.
4) Opposing the drilling of 127 wells for the purpose of sending out water to Fargo.
There are so many demands being made for the county board that it is causing the county to have serious budget issues and will apply research, good logic, and common sense to the decision making process.
A proposed Perham Resource Recovery Facility expansion has been the focus of much Otter Tail County discussion. The project appears dead now, following a county board vote this fall. Would you work to revive this expansion proposal? If so, what steps would you take to bring the proposal back to the county board table?
The Perham Resource Recovery Facility has had a long, extensive hearing process. The present county board has worked diligently to resolve this issue. Until new information that has an impact on this facility becomes available, this issue, in my opinion, would be considered resolved.
Otter Tail County Board
Education, background, service and family:
I have a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota in Ag Economics, and I am on the Alumni Board of Directors. I serve on the USDA's Agricultural Statistics National Board. I am in Minnesota Agricultural and Rural Leaders and I was also a delegate on Governor Pawlenty's trade mission to China.
I am a farmer and businessman. I am a current and founding partner of New Life Farms, and NLF Group. I am also a current and founding member of Perham Capital Company, an area investment and development group. My wife, Susan, and I also own and operate The Wild Goose, a specialty gift store.
I have served as president of Perham Rotary Club, the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Perham Jaycees. I am Vice-Chairman of St. Henry's Parish Council. I also served as an EMT for Perham Area EMS and was the Perham Cub Scouts Master.
I enjoy traveling, reading and outdoor sports. We have three children, Elizabeth (Abby), Rebecca, and Mark.
Otter Tail County's top priorities:
The county's top priority should be to serve the people of Otter Tail County. Government should constantly be striving to improve the quality of life of all of its citizens. To do this we need to provide a safe and healthy work and recreational environment. Our economy is based heavily on tourism, service and agriculture and we need to implement policy that builds our economy, but also protects our environment. Otter Tail County is a great place to live, work and play and I really want to preserve that fact, for future generations.
Concerns and what would I bring to the table:
The county board is required to carry out the duties delegated by the state. It is imperative that we provide all government services as affordably and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, given the current economic turmoil, more and more programs are being mandated, but not funded, by the state and federal government. The county may be faced with increased budget shortfalls that will require hard economic decisions. As a farmer and business owner, I have been faced with this type of dilemma. I have witnessed, first hand, belt tightening in order to meet budgets. I have been forced to come up with new and more efficient methods of accomplishing goals and objectives. This real life experience will help me on the county board.
I am a proponent of renewable energy. The PRRF faced opposition, due to a number of reasons, ranging from costs and emissions to risk and authority. In order for the expansion to happen, each one of these concerns needs to be addressed with viable solutions.
On a broader note, the United States economy has relied on foreign oil for too long and this dependence is the root cause of our economic turmoil on Wall Street, and it has trickled down to Main Street. There is not a single solution that will cure our foreign addiction. We need to meet this challenge with a comprehensive balanced approach. These solutions involve wind, solar, bio-fuels, hydrogen, natural gas, clean coal and waste streams, to name a few.
Obviously, when it comes to waste, we need to first reduce and recycle, but until that happens, we need to deal with the waste and burying it is not the long-term answer. Bongard's and Tuffy's both need steam to process their products, farmers need processors and our communities need jobs.