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Meet The Candidates

By Staff | May 22, 2012

Sherman E. Hilfiker

Supervisor District #5 – Democrat

Sherman E. Hilfiker is seeking election as County Supervisor for District 5. Due to the State of Iowa’s re-districting, District 5 is a new Supervisor’s area. Sherman and his wife, Mary, live in Emmetsburg and raised three children. Sherman was born and raised on a farm in Nebraska. Working two jobs, Sherman put himself through college and graduated from Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Minors in Chemistry and Math. It was at Mount Marty College that he met, and later married, Mary Kunz of Emmetsburg. Sherman later received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from National University, San Diego, CA. Sherman served in the U.S. Navy for 18 years, working with Pentagon officials on budgetary reviews and computer systems analysis. He received the Navy Commendation Medal based on his ability to interface with personnel of all levels in various major commands within the U.S. With Sherman’s ability to manage budgets, personnel and computer systems, he was put in charge of a computer system that maintained medical data for all U.S. Navy facilities worldwide. Sherman and family have lived in Emmetsburg for the past 17 years. When he retired from the military, much thought was given as to where to live. With Sherman’s management background and Mary’s years in the banking and investment field, the possibilities could have been widespread. But the desire to move back to the Midwest made Emmetsburg the logical choice. Sherman is the past Technology Director for the Emmetsburg Community School District. Presently, he is a Computer Technician at a local computer store, Slash Point Sales, in Emmetsburg. He has a sincere interest in Palo Alto County and would like to let his education and experience work for the residents of District 5 and for Palo Alto County.

1) I feel it is the responsibility of a good Supervisor to represent the wishes of the people that elected him/her to that position. Therefore, when an issue comes up, that Supervisor should be doing the research on the issue and taking those results to a cross section of the people in his/her district. I have committed to never coming to the table without doing the research and have also committed to entering into all issue without my own predetermined decision. Working as a Supervisor should mean there is teamwork developed between Supervisor and residents in his/her district. I am willing to hold meetings with constituents to discuss issues and to get their input before registering my vote at a Board meeting. After all, there is no “I” in “TEAM.” I have faith in the good judgment of the residents of District 5. I will honestly represent the wishes of those residents and in so doing, we as a team, will be benefiting Palo Alto County as a whole.

2) The Good Neighbor Policy was established by the County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 14, 1997. It stated that a separation distance measured from the proposed confinement livestock location to the nearest neighboring residence shall be at least one half mile unless waivers were signed by the affected neighbors. The concerns addressed in this policy were as follows: Is the proposed site in an area that would affect housing development or a public use or recreational access area. Will the proposed site pose an environmental risk for local water supplies or water safety. Will the soil type cause construction concerns. Will the proposed site be an unreasonable hazard to the health and welfare of surrounding neighbors. With this criteria in place, if an application for a confinement livestock location does not comply, then the application should be declined, thereby upholding the Good Neighbor Policy. In addition to this process, the Master Matrix process should be noted. In 1995 the Iowa Legislature ended local control over Animal Feeding Operations. Regulatory power over these enterprises was handed over to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources along with a set of minimal standards with which to comply. These standards are listed in the Master Matrix, a points-based document used in the permit process. While it would appear that the County has some input on the proposed Confined Animal Feeding Operations, their decision does not carry much weight. It is unfortunate that the interests of communities and counties accounts for so little in the permitting process. With the public fighting the system, a few confinements have been stopped. However, the Master Matrix is currently the only tool counties have at their disposal to provide any input. As a Board of Supervisors, yes, the Good Neighbor Policy should be upheld with the understanding of the county residents, that once it leaves the county level, it is the end of local control.

3) A mutual respect between City personnel and County personnel is a must. In order to develop a good working relationship between the two bodies, the old adage of “walk a mile in my shoes” must be realized. County Board members should sit in on some City Council meetings and vice versa so both entities get a feel for what the other has on their agendas. City Council members are elected and so are County Board of Supervisor members. Each Council/Board has a group of constituents that they have promised to represent. It’s common sense to recognize the fact that not everyone is going to agree on every issue. But when City and County can come together and explain their positions based on facts, it then becomes professionals working with professionals for the common good.

It has been a humbling and rewarding experience going door to door during this election campaign. I have talked with so many people and have taken their concerns to heart. I see myself as an applicant for the position of County Supervisor for District 5. If the voters hire me for this position by exercising their right to vote on June 5, 2012, I look forward to working with them and the County Board of Supervisors so we can jointly make Palo Alto County a better place.

Thomas J. Leonard

Supervisor District #5 – Democrat

I worked with the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years serving as Chief Deputy for a total of 16 years. I retired in 2007 and have not held an elected position. I consider my 24 years with the Sheriff’s Department as my community involvement.

My wife Sue and I have fourchildren. Tom works for the Sioux City Fire Department and is a Lieutenant at Fire Station 7. Our daughter Lisa is the secretary at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Spencer. Jason is a Captain for the Waverly Police Department. Gabriel is a Lineman for Mid American Energy in Emmetsburg. We have nine grandchildren ranging in age from 22 years old to 18 months old.

1) We must keep in mind what is best for our District. However, first and foremost, we must keep the focus on the what is best for the county as a whole. All district supervisors vote on all issues that affect all districts. They need to take into consideration that what they decide affects all citizens of Palo Alto County. Team work and compromise must come to the table.

2) The Good Neighbor Policy is a vital part of the friendly relations and good will between land owners and livestock operations. We do not want to condemn or condone these operations. At the same time the health and well being of the people that live adjacent to them needs to be protected. No one wants a livestock facility in their backyard and this policy strikes a good balance between the two. It works well for Palo Alto County.

3) Public office should not be about personal agendas. In the spirit of working together, it is important to keep up with the city and county workings by communicating about how they can work together to improve the entire area, In order to do this, each public official needs to focus on three areas crucial to an area’s success.

1) The maintenance or upgrade of our current facilities and infrastructure. This is vital to an areas ability to attract new business. An area’s vitality depends on its school systems, public safety and job market.

2) Projects that attract new business to Palo Alto County which may include tax incentives for businesses that start up here. This equates to jobs.

3) Minimal tax asking from citizens without first measuring the potential growth that can be established if raising the tax asking from the community

Each of the above points is also dependent upon the other two. If we, as public representative, act with this in mind, common ground is achieved.

Team work is cooperating and working together, it is a coordinated effort by both city and county representative to work together for the good of all citizens.

We need to make sure the public is informed and is aware of both sides of the issues. Open communication and open dialog is a must.

Linus J. Solberg

Supervisor District #5 – Democrat

Linus J. Solberg farms and is a Seed and Chemical Dealer. He lives in rural C.ylinder

He and his wife, Paddy, have a daughter, Penny, from Plainview, NE; and a son, Sean, from Minneapolis, MN; and five grandchildren.

Community Activities I am most proud of my contribution to the following three boards:

Palo Alto County Pork Producers Board we organized and started this organization in the late 1960s.

Palo Alto County Fair Board we revitalized the Palo Alto County Fair in the 1980s with the help of the County Supervisors.

Lakeside Lutheran Nursing Home Board since 2006, we helped guide the nursing home to its present financial stability.

1) If elected, I feel the best interests of my constituents in District 5 AND the best interests of the county are BOTH important. Every district in Palo Alto County has different issues, but they all affect the whole county in one way or another. For example, District 5 includes the towns of Cylinder, Rodman, and the southeast quarter of the city of Emmetsburg. It includes one of the longest lake shorelines in Palo Alto County, along with the second largest farm-to-market road system and the second largest drainage district in the county. I would like to represent all these people and their specific needs, because I care. I care about the same things that all of us in District 5 care about jobs, families, health care, schools, taxes, our main streets, etc. I am running because I want to give something back to the community.

2) The Good Neighbor Policy works. As a member of the Palo Alto County Pork Producers, I was actually involved in writing the policy for the county. It was written in 1997 by not only the Pork Producers, but also the Palo Alto County Farm Bureau, the County Cattlemen’s Association, the ISU Extension Service, and the Palo Alto County Supervisors. I went to Des Moines with Supervisor Lannie Miller and County Attorney Peter Hart to present it to the Department of Natural Resources. I think the Palo Alto County Zoning Board and the Zoning Administrator have done an excellent job enforcing the policy. The Zoning Board and the Administrator do the legwork, make the tough decisions, and mediate any disputes. I’ve heard from large corporations and local farmers that love the Good Neighbor Policy. They know that when they build in Palo Alto County, the Good Neighbor Policy ensures that they will not be sued or harassed by their neighbors. The Zoning Board has tried to be as fair as possible. With the policy in place, we have more livestock buildings than most other counties in the state. The policy has made Palo Alto County a better place to live.

3) As I stated when I announced my candidacy, one of my goals as a Supervisor is to meet with every city council in Palo Alto County-to hear their goals and identify common ground that can be explored with the Board of Supervisors. The communities that make up the county need to work together. We have shown that we can work together successfully. For example, compared with other counties our size in Iowa, we should be very proud of the numerous large employers we have attracted and retained, including Iowa Lakes Community College, AGP, Poet, and many more. We need to continue to build on that success. The actions of the supervisors affect both the city and rural residents, so a supervisor must be attentive to and have an understanding of both rural and city needs. We are all in this together.