Brad Anderson was elected the Goodhue County Board chair on Tuesday, Jan. 8. After his appointment to the position, Anderson answered questions for the Republican Eagle about himself and what he foresees for the County Board this year.
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Q: How long have you lived in the county?
A: I have lived in Goodhue County my whole life, I live on our family farm in Leon Township that has been in our family since the 1870s. My wife, Kathy, and I have a son and daughter and four granddaughters. My wife is a Realtor in Cannon Falls, our daughter is an elementary principal in Kasson and our son lives on the farm and works at MSP airport.
I have moved once in my life-from the house I grew up in 200 feet to the house we live in now.
Q: What do/did you do for a career?
A: I farmed with my father and then my brother until 2002 and then went to work at Niebur Tractor in Miesville as a mechanic and then became the service manager and was in that position until I was elected to the County Board. I went back to being a mechanic and still work at Niebur's part time. They have been very supportive of my involvement in the county and allow a very flexible work schedule to accommodate all the meetings and committee assignments.
Q: What boards/committees have you served on during your time on the board?
A: We have several committees the County Board members are appointed to or volunteer to attend. These committee assignments are for committees in the county and also include Joint Powers Boards with other counties. The committees in the county I have been on are Solid Waste, Budget/Personnel, Land, Parks and Trails, Rural ID & E-911, Policy, Health and Human Services Board and Technology committees.
Outside the county the Joint Powers Boards I attend are SE Water Board, Selco Board, SEMMCHRA Housing Board, Cannon One Watershed One Plan Board, Cannon Valley Trail Board and South Country Health Alliance Board. The other assignments are Inner City Passenger Rail Forum, Association of Minnesota Counties Transportation and Agriculture Committee, SE MN Resource, Conservation and Development Board and the County Water Planning Policy Group.
I am also the alternate board member for SE Minnesota District 9 to the State Association of Minnesota Counties Board. I have worked on the Strategic Planning Group for the county Health and Human Services Department.
Being involved in county committees and collaborative efforts in multi county boards gives a commissioner a knowledge base to draw on when working on county programs and programs delegated to the county from state and federal governments.
Q: Did you want to become the board's chair?
A: I am honored to be the chairman of the board and am ready to carry out that position to the best of my ability. The board chair seat in Goodhue County is usually spread around and all will be chair at some time in their tenure on the board. I have been chair of two other joint powers boards the county is involved with and have enjoyed those and working with commissioners from the counties represented on those boards. I am looking forward to working with Goodhue County Board members and staff to insure we are responsive and responsible to the citizens of the county.
Q: What do you have to do as chair?
A: The chair is the first contact for the county administrator in county matters. The chair may help formulate the response to any number of public issues along with the county administrator and county staff.
The chair is charged with appointing the committee assignments, that being said the members of the board share in the makeup of the list of assignments. The obvious is the chair presides over the meetings and may from time to time make special appointments to short term committees for special projects.
The chair and vice chair always serve on the budget and personnel committee.
Q: What topic(s) are you most interested in discussing and focusing on in 2019?
A: We recently had a board workshop and spent time working through topics the board will focus on this year and some board goals. My focus as a commissioner is to continually work on long-range planning. That covers many areas from budgeting, succession planning, transportation, housing, parks and trails, capital expenditure planning, community health and many other issues which can not be solved without a work plan.
What we leave for those that come behind is so important to the vitality and livability of our county. With a long-range strategic plan with goals we can meet county needs and achieve efficiencies in program delivery.
Q: What do you foresee to be the largest obstacle that the board will face this year?
A: There are many challenges for the board every year. Solid waste is here and real and we have to deal with all the factors that the issue encompasses.
The health insurance issue, from private insurance to the public programs, requires much work at the state and federal level to work on insuring a positive result. We need to be very active in those discussions as we are closest to the citizens and can help influence the outcome.
There is, in my mind, no one issue that is the obstacle there are many challenges and we need to cooperatively work to address all issues.
Q; How will you and your fellow board members work together?
A: We most likely will have differences of opinion and that makes for better debates on issues and program decisions the board makes. Without debate and different opinions the best solution may be overlooked. We agree on several topics and we have different approaches on other topics.
Citizens elected us to carefully consider all sides of an issue and reach a decision, they are not going to all be unanimous. I will always support the decision the board makes and move forward to ensure it is implemented. We as commissioners also need to be willing to re-evaluate a decision and either continue it or alter it depending on the that evaluation.
Q: How do you think the county should manage its solid waste?
A: The issue of changing the way we handle solid waste in Goodhue County has been an issue the commissioners have been working on for many years. The opportunity of getting the Bench Street, county-owned landfill in the state Closed Landfill Program is one of the drivers to address this issue. We cannot predict when the landfill will leak to the point of requiring it to be cleaned up nor can we predict an exact cost of that cleanup.
What we do know is the state wants to address the way the public handles solid waste and land filling it is the least acceptable way to handle it. We have a facility in the county that uses solid waste to generate electricity and that process is a more acceptable method of disposing of waste.
We have a solid waste plan the state approved with the county using the waste-to-energy method as a way to dispose of the county's waste. If the county follows through and requires all county solid waste to go through the processing center in Red Wing and on to the waste to electricity facility in our county we can then transfer the Bench Street Landfill to the the state Closed Landfill Program.
This takes the long-term liability of the landfill off Goodhue County and into the state program. Citizens of the county have been paying solid waste tax for many years and this is what funds the state program to clean up leaking landfills. We will pay more to change the way we handle waste but will also not have the liability of the landfill on the county in the future.
We need to be diligent to change the way we handle waste now to minimize the effects on future citizens and the environment. When contamination of soil and water happens it is very difficult and expensive to address the negative effects.
I believe the responsible decision is to proceed with the process to designate waste and transfer the landfill into the state closed landfill program. This will minimize the liability of the county citizens to the financial risk of an expensive landfill cleanup and long-term monitoring costs.
Goodhue County is a great place to live, work and play and working on long-term solutions to difficult issues will ensure we pass that on to future residents.