• Large Print
Add To Favorites In PHR

Q&A with Winona County Commissioner candidates

Post-Bulletin - 8/9/2018

Aug. 08--Winona County

County Commissioner, District 5

Bryce Lange, Lewiston

Community and Business Development Specialist at CEDA

1. What options other than incarceration, if any, should be considered for non-violent offenders in Winona County? I believe that there are various programs that we can offer to non-violent offenders. These programs could provide mental health care, substance abuse rehabilitation, and job skills training to non-violent offenders, as well as county residents that volunteer before they are arrested for an illegal activity.

We need to be more proactive in getting people the help that they need before it becomes are larger issue than it would have been if it was addressed early. Studies have shown that costs of simply incarcerating people, with no programmatic structure like skills training or employment, actually costs more and has an increased rate of recidivism. With treatment and training, we can give people a chance to break the cycle and become not only functioning members of society, but contributing members.

2. What are the important spending priorities in Winona County? Infrastructure maintenance and improvement is one of my most pressing spending priorities. We have crumbling infrastructure in areas like Homer and Dresbach townships, to name a few.

I also believe that funding our economic development department, at the county level, should be a priority in order to help increase the tax base of Winona County, and thus, lower the individual tax impact on residents. We need to make these investments in our county to make sure that Winona County remains a great place to live, work, and play.

3. Name another issue facing Winona County, and how should it be fixed? The biggest issue facing Winona County is the county plays a reactive role in economic development, while the proposed DMC, areas immediately surrounding Rochester, will see an influx of residents and growth. With this lack of county coordination in economic development, we are losing out on good-paying jobs and employers that could increase the tax base and lower taxes for other residents.

Many prospective residents and businesses are going to other counties that will assist them with loans, grants, and other incentives. We expect that our jail population will remain the same, so we are willing to consider exporting inmates as a long-term solution, even though costs will rise as the population of inmates rise. We can fix these issues by using the future to guide our policymaking.

Marcia Ward, Nodine

Retired business owner, farmer

1. What options other than incarceration, if any, should be considered for non-violent offenders in Winona County? Alternatives to incarceration is a relatively new approach in the field of corrections. Winona County needs to look at concepts that aim to asses prior to booking into the jail and keep some with addiction and mental health issues out of the jail and into referred treatment programs.

Non-violent offender programs could include crisis center treatment, mental health treatment,community service, home monitoring,house arrest,boot camps,intensive after care monitoring, periodic imprisonment, day parole and others. Community-based sentences keep offenders in the community and can offenders can perform productive employment for themselves and their families support.

Winona County has a successful Drug Court model and needs to evaluate other such treatment courts.

2. What are the important spending priorities in Winona County? Winona County's largest expenditure is in personnel, 40 percent of the budget is wages and benefits. As the state adds mandated programs and services that the county administers it can require additional staffing with or without appropriate funding. County government has a very small amount of discretionary dollars; most state and federal dollars are for specific programs or services.

One of the largest uncontrollable expenses is out-of-home placement for children. The county had 70 children placed in 2017 and 85 in 2018. Spending increased approximately $500,000 of local property taxes, a very small amount from the state or federal governments.

Roads and bridges are a priority, with additional federal and state dollars as available along with the addition of a half cent sales tax dedicated to roads and bridges.

3. Name another issue facing Winona County, and how it should be fixed? Number one issue is balancing the property tax levy dollars required to provide the mandated programs from the state: funded, unfunded or underfunded. Winona County is in a deficit, spending reserve dollars to balance the budget. This is unsustainable. We cannot continue to grow government.

Our jail continues to reduce our holding days, restricting our ability to hold juveniles and keeps us considering a different kind of facility. Winona County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, headed by the county attorney and sheriff, is gathering data and studying options to bring to the county board in the future. This decision will have a huge impact on our county property tax levy.

Fixes include working with local legislators and neighboring counties and local support agencies to collaborate in finding reasonable solutions.

Lynn Carlson, Winona

Age: 54

Fitness instructor

1. What options other than incarceration, if any, should be considered for non-violent offenders in Winona County?

The concept that is used throughout the nation, and developed by our own Judge Challeen, is sentencing non-violent offenders to community service by cleaning up parks and roadways. With appropriate supervision (and creating a few jobs) this community service could be expanded to include painting, brush clearing, snow removal, and light maintenance for certain businesses and municipal offices.

2. What are the important spending priorities in Winona County?

Sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, continuing education and community outreach.

3. Name another issue facing Winona County, and how it should be fixed? Water quality is underrepresented, and many folks cannot drink their water without detriment to their health. How do we develop community in a rural area, or promote economic development in an area if the water is not drinkable?

Ways to tackle making our water safe to drink include updating policies for industrial pollution and agricultural runoff, revising the process of permits that allow going beyond established guidelines, increasing staff and technical training for monitoring and compliance, offering incentives and developing programs for innovative methods to clean up operations that reduce chemical effluence, runoff or leaching into groundwater.

{span style="font-family: tahoma, arial, helvetica, sans-serif;"}{span style="font-size: 12px;"} {/span}{/span}


(c)2018 the Post-Bulletin

Visit the Post-Bulletin at www.postbulletin.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Driving Walking/Biking Public Transit  Get Directions