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Candidates Tommy Coleman and Austin Hayek are on the ballot to replace retiring Webster County Supervisor Keith Dencklau, a Republican, in District 1. Coleman is running as a Democrat and Hayek as a Republican.

Tommy Coleman

Democrat

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What is your vision for the county?

I want Webster County to be known throughout the state as the No. 1 county for development, care, and pride.

Development – Webster County should lead the state in renewable energy and connectivity. Wind turbines and the new solar farm already produce enough energy to power 2.5x the number of households in the county. We should increase that number and lead the state as a way to attract new businesses that would like to be “Powered by Iowa Sunshine” or “Powered by Iowa Wind.” The fiber cable being installed in Fort Dodge should be promoted and celebrated – attracting entrepreneurs, businesses, and the companies of the future. Initiatives and efforts to enhance internet access for people outside the city limits will make it easier for people to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

Care – Webster County should be the model for a caring community. We should care for our environment and our health with trails and parks for everyone to enjoy. We should care for our young people with a variety of jobs and extra-curricular, recreational activities. We should care for our senior citizens with opportunities to connect and enjoy the community they worked so hard to create. We should care for each other with neighbor watch programs and neighborhood improvement initiatives. These programs should be supported and promoted by the county and its elected officials on a regular and consistent basis.

Pride – Every citizen should be proud to share that they live in Webster County. Right now, many of our neighbors feel disconnected and disenfranchised from our community. I want to represent everyone in the community (regardless of political party or affiliation) in a way that focuses on bringing individual concerns to the attention and agenda of the Board of Supervisors.

Why are you a good choice for election?

Since announcing my candidacy, I have attended every regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting. The reason I’ve made this commitment is to learn as much about the job, the issues, and the concerns of my fellow citizens as possible. I also wanted to send a clear message that I will make the necessary investments of time, effort, and dedication to serve the people of this community. I think a candidate should be “ready on Day 1” to start working and am confident that I’ll be able to deliver on that as the supervisor for District 1.

In the last few months I’ve immersed myself in the most important issues in our community. From drug overdose awareness, to NARCAN training, to cyberbullying prevention, to Neighborhood Watches, I’ve learned about topics that cause significant pain and stress for our community. I’ve attended meetings to discuss the new jail and meetings about the proposed carbon pipeline. I strive to be both a well-informed, and well-rounded supervisor.

For months now, I’ve spent my evenings and weekends knocking on doors throughout the county. I’ve personally visited over 2,000 homes and my supporters have visited an additional 500. This has allowed me to directly hear the concerns of the constituents of District 1 – regardless of whether they are a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent. For me, promising to represent “everyone in the county regardless of political party or affiliation” is more than a promise – it’s something people have already witnessed from me as a candidate. Just look at how often you will find my “VOTE TOMMY” signs in the same yard as signs from candidates associated with other parties.

I think you should be able to communicate with your elected representative any time – which is why I’ve published and shared my personal cell phone number so people can “Text Tommy” (515-570-4440) with any concerns or questions. Webster County is too small to not afford its people a direct line of communication to their supervisor.

What are the major challenges facing Webster County, and what do you intend to do about them?

In my conversations with people across the county, three topics come up again and again:

Property Taxes – As your supervisor, I am committed to fiscal responsibility. While we need to be able to fund critical projects and services in our community, this shouldn’t come at the expense of skyrocketing property taxes that make it hard for land owners, homeowners, senior citizens, and those living on a fixed income. Everyone should pay their fair share, but no one should be forced to pay more than that. I will work to make sure people understand their taxes and their options for reducing those taxes.

Roads – This is a significant topic with many important concerns from plowing, to grading, to repairing, to traffic. While these problems won’t be fixed overnight, we could do a better job as a county in being transparent about which roads will receive maintenance/repair and on what schedule. Making this information more easily accessible (via text and/or online inquiries) is something I am committed to doing.

Environmental Issues – Pipelines. Wind turbines. Hog Confinement Buildings. Each of these has positive and negative aspects. To yell “I don’t want that here” doesn’t help anyone nor does it create space for opportunities, possibilities, and innovation. I will work to put our community first by focusing on ways to address environmental concerns that take a variety of viewpoints into consideration and then move forward with a plan that represents a compromise on perspectives.

What will be your guiding principles when making decisions or voting?

As supervisor, I represent the people of District 1. I will always vote in alignment with what the people want (hence my desire to be in direct communication with constituents) and what’s best for our community (which I strive to learn more about every day). I realize that it’s impossible to make everyone happy. What I can promise is that as your supervisor, I will approach every situation like I’ve approached my entire campaign: with an open mind, a willingness to show up, a desire to listen first, and then a commitment to roll up my sleeves and make things happen.

The Webster County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the possibility of building a new Law Enforcement Center. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

Anyone who has visited the Law Enforcement Center understands that a new facility is needed given the growing population and the constraints of the current layout/facilities. That being said, a new jail won’t solve all of our problems. It’s part of the answer, but not the complete solution.

We must address crime and mental health issues in our county before people end up in jail. We need to take a serious, comprehensive look at these issues at the neighborhood, city, and county levels. While attending board meetings over the last month I’ve been shocked to learn how many people are waiting for space to open up in the jail so they can serve their sentence and end their court process. I want to make it possible for these individuals to do community service projects in lieu of spending this time behind bars where they don’t give back to the community and instead further crowd our cells (while running up the price tag to operate our jail). I also support comprehensive and effective neighborhood improvement and watch programs. We can’t expect law enforcement to be everywhere at all times. We must do our part as citizens to get involved, be an extra set of eyes and ears, and support our neighbors in every way we can.

What is your biggest priority, if elected?

My biggest priority is to get in regular and sustained communication with the residents of District 1. I find it pathetic that in 2022, where almost everyone in our community has a personal cell phone, the majority of people don’t know how to effectively and efficiently share their opinions and concerns with their elected officials. I want to represent everyone in the district and the best way I know how to do that is by being in direct communication with anyone that wants to text, call, or talk to me. I want conversations in our community to focus on “what can I do to help you” instead of “who did you vote for during the last election?” I think we’re all tired of the bickering and blaming. It’s time to listen to each other, roll up our sleeves, and start moving forward to make our community the No. 1 county in the state.

Austin Hayek

Republican

What is your vision for the county?

My hope for Webster County is to ensure every resident has a voice and a seat at the table. For them to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely. While practicing fiscal responsibility, supporting our first responders, driving economic development and ensuring the greatest level of opportunities for the next generation. As I’ve stated before, my vision is to cultivate prosperity in Webster County for everyone. This can only be done through partnerships with residents, communities, schools and businesses, and together this can be achieved.

Why are you a good choice for election?

As a lifelong resident of Webster County I have a heart for the people here and will work diligently to ensure transparency to the residents. I have proven this on the campaign trail by going to the county events like fireman balls, pancake breakfasts, Lions meetings, coffee days, vendor fairs, and meeting with community leaders. I created a website, gave out my phone number, my address and email address, to ensure transparency in what I believe in and the principles I stand for. I want the people of Webster County to know that I’m willing to go where they are to meet their problems head on. Yes, I will be in the courthouse diligently working for the people, but I will also be out in every community, seeking perspective and input on county affairs. I feel with my background of working on the family farm and career in law enforcement and now safety, it equips me with the ability to listen, empathize, decipher and encourage, finding real time solutions for real problems.

What are the major challenges facing Webster County, and what do you intend to do about them?

A few of the challenges I have been approached with; the ever-increasing flood of narcotics, property taxes, and, in the farming communities, the carbon pipeline.

In order to combat the wave of narcotics there needs to be a focus on how we can strengthen support to our law enforcement and first responders to be able to equip them with the resources to tackle this challenge. This also includes a continued focus on mental health and addiction intervention. By proactively working with our Sheriff’s Office, addiction counselors, EMS services and other agencies we will be able to tackle this problem and create opportunities where they may not have existed before for individuals.

When it comes to property taxes it is understanding how to balance the current needs of the county with fiscal responsibility. It is challenging the status quo and ensuring the tax dollars being spent is done in a manner that benefits all residents of Webster County. It’s about recognizing how to create the greatest return on investment with the tax dollars and understanding when and where not to spend. This has been a hot topic at almost every house I’ve stopped at in a while. Yes, some home values have gone up, but by closely monitoring the budgets and being good stewards of the taxpayer money our property tax doesn’t have to go up. As I continue to look at our budgets and investment opportunities, for our communities I would seek to ensure the diligence and transparency and spending.

Speaking with the farm community there is a lot of unrest around the potential consequences of the pipeline. The concern for farmland, drainage, their rights as landowners and the health and safety risks of this project have been many of the topics related to this project.

The first duty of a county supervisor is to protect the rights, privileges and properties of the residents, a duty we must faithfully uphold. I would push for Webster County to follow other counties in Iowa that have looked to zoning, updating their permitting process, adjusting fees based on inflation, and implementing requirements to equip first responders with the training and tools necessary in event of emergency related to this work. I fully recognize an individuals right to their property and should they wish to sign up for these types of projects that is fully respected, however, we need to respect every individuals right to property and protect those based on the authority that we have.

What will be your guiding principles when making decisions or voting?

Iowa Code 331.301 states: The county board is to exercise any power and perform any function it deems appropriate to protect and preserve the rights privileges and property of the county or of its residents it is to preserve and improve the peace safety health welfare comfort and convenience of its residents. This code, the Constitutions of Iowa and the U.S. Constitution along with my Christian morals of honesty, integrity, transparency, humility and kindness will be what guides me in the decisions and voting while on the board. As I’ve stated before, when making decisions, it’s about gathering input and first and foremost I will always seek input from the residents of the county.

The Webster County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the possibility of building a new Law Enforcement Center. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

I do feel a new Law Enforcement Center is something that the county does need to look into. Having been in there professionally as a former officer and then working with a jail ministry I have seen some of the needs. When it comes to the concern of being fiscally responsible, I would need to see and understand the scope of the project with the cost before coming to any definite conclusion. This would also include seeking public comment and input on the project as it will impact them. It’s also important when evaluating the scope of the project and understanding what is truly needed versus what we would like to have done, which helps provide cost comparisons and generate further discussion on the needs and wants of this project.

What is your biggest priority, if elected?

My biggest priority would be the effective and efficient operation of the county and to be good stewards of the authority given to us by the voters. In doing so we need to maintain transparency and effective communication with the residents of the county. While actively and continually seeking their input. Upon entering office, my first priority will be to dig into our budgets and property taxes and seek areas of opportunity while still providing highly effective, highly efficient county services. I feel with the issues of today’s inflation, the people with Webster County need to know somebody will be there fighting for them in the courthouse, and being proactive and identifying and resolving issues while continuing to advance prosperity for all in Webster County.

District 4

Webster County Supervisor Niki Conrad, a Democrat, is running for

re-election in District 4, and Republican Reggie Simmons is challenging her for the seat.

Niki Conrad

Democrat

What is your vision for the county?

We have a really good thing going here in Webster County. We work well together, both at all levels of government and also with the private sector. I envision a county where we continue to build on those relationships and forward momentum. I see a thriving, prosperous community that constantly strives for better, while honoring the hard work and grit that got us here so far.

Why are you a good choice for re-election?

Four years ago, I ran on the promise of transparency, accessibility, and empathy. I believe I’ve fulfilled that promise and have proven myself to be a true representative for not only District 4, but also Webster County as a whole.

I’ve made a point to continue my education. For example, I graduated from a few continuing education programs:

∫ the Growth Alliance’s Leadership Fort Dodge program

∫ the inaugural class of Certified Iowa County Supervisors

∫ the national High-Performance Leadership master certification course

But I’ve not only served my community in my official scope as a supervisor; I’ve also volunteered for outside activities like being an executive chair for RAGBRAI last year or co-chairing the most recent Hospice Ball.

Lastly, I’ve proven that I can foster relationships with folks on all sides of the political spectrum. I’m proud of the fact that Gov. Reynolds appointed me – and a Republican majority State Senate approved – to the Iowa Commission on Community Action Agencies.

I hope that with that knowledge, the voters of District 4 find me worthy of re-election on Nov. 8.

What are the major challenges facing Webster County, and what do you intend to do about them?

Brain health is an ongoing issue – not only here in Webster County, but across the country. Our first responders have become our first line of defense for acute brain health issues. Our medical professionals are overburdened. While our mental health region, CICS, does an excellent job being a funder to so many services, more needs to be done to prevent brain health issues from escalating. But there is no one size fits all solution, unfortunately. Poverty, homelessness, crime, addiction – these are all parts of the same challenge, and we need a holistic approach to work toward a solution. We’re doing the best we can with the funding we’re receiving, but we must do more. I applaud Representative Meyer for the work she’s done at the state level to encourage mental health professionals to stay in Iowa. That will hopefully go a long way toward our staffing issues. Additionally, I’ve volunteered to sit on a few boards and committees in order to learn more about the challenges that our providers face every day. Whether that’s opioid addiction, jail diversion, or the good work of non-profit organizations, I’m doing my best to understand with the goal to help however I can.

What will be your guiding principles when making decisions or voting?

I recently spoke at a couple of Rotary meetings and noted that, as a former Rotarian, I use the 4-Way Test when I vote on important decisions that come before the Board of Supervisors:

– It is the TRUTH?

– It is FAIR to all concerned?

– Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

– Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

These, as well as the pillars of Character Counts, are always good indicators of how I should vote. It takes a lot of research, a lot of asking the right questions to the experts in the fields in question, and a lot of listening to the concerns of the citizens.

The Webster County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the possibility of building a new Law Enforcement Center. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

We definitely need a new jail. As the supervisor who oversees the maintenance and issues of the current Law Enforcement Center, I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges we face there currently. The building structure itself is woefully inadequate. We have too little room in the jail itself for the number of folks we need to house, and as such, we’re paying a substantial amount of money to other counties to house them. We’re currently talking through the proposals now, and I’m part of those conversations.

What is your biggest priority, if elected?

My biggest priority is, and has always been, the citizens of Webster County. In talking with folks, their greatest concerns are as varied as the people asking them. It’s my responsibility to address these concerns as best I can with the skills and tools I have. Whether it’s brain health challenges, being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers, building on relationships to foster further economic growth, or continuing the incredible progress we’ve made on quality of life, they all come back to one main priority: the people of Webster County.

Reggie Simmons

Republican

What is your vision for the county?

My vision for the county is one where our residents remain safe, secure, and protected. That our rivers, lakes, and county parks would be well-maintained, clean, and accessible. I would have it be that our residents would not only be able to afford to live in their communities but that they would be able to prosper. And I desire that the people of Webster County would be free without concern of government restrictions.

Why are you a good choice for election?

I believe that I am a good choice for election because of the policies and ideas that I support. I believe strongly in personal and economic freedom. I support lower property taxes and therefore believe that government should be limited in its size and scope. And I care deeply about conservation and our law enforcement.

What are the major challenges facing Webster County, and what do you intend to do about them?

We need to do all that we can to ensure that our residents are kept safe and that we can all sleep well at night knowing that we are well-protected. I will work with the Webster County Sheriff’s office to ensure they are fully funded and equipped to do their job to the highest degree possible.

Another major issue we are facing is a shortage in the workforce. I will work with Iowa Central Community College and the Iowa Workforce Development to find ways to bolster our working community.

What will be your guiding principles when making decisions or voting?

From the onset, our campaign for this election has been based on three principles. Personal liberty, fiscal responsibility, and moral integrity. As county supervisor, I will preserve and protect your personal rights and privileges. I will seek to administer the affairs of the county as efficiently as possible. And I will be a supervisor who is trustworthy, hard-working, and honest.

I will not take this position lightly. I will be sensitive to the needs of others while seeking to be a good listener. And I will take the petitions of our residents into consideration before making decisions.

The Webster County Sheriff’s Office is looking into the possibility of building a new Law Enforcement Center. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

Webster County has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars transporting inmates to and from other counties due to a lack of space or staffing shortages. If building a new LEC keeps our law enforcement within the county to focus on protecting and serving our residents, rather than constantly having to transport individuals from county to county, then it has my full support.

What is your biggest priority, if elected?

My biggest priority is serving and engaging our communities in Webster County. Whether it be volunteer youth programs, community service projects, and/or fitness activities, I want to be visible and available to the people. I would also love the opportunity to work with the next generation to get involved with local politics. We need more leaders who are willing to step up and run for office!

But when I consider public service, I can’t help but think of my father, Tom Simmons. As the parks and recreation director in Clarion, Iowa, for over 35 years, my father whole-heartedly served the parents and children in his community. And the impact he has had on generations of people continues to resonate even to this day.

And as Webster County supervisor, just like my father has done, I will dedicate myself to the work of public service.


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