Two candidates are vying for your support to be the next Rice County District 1 commissioner, which represents two precincts of Northfield, Dundas and much of the east side of the county (see attached map).
The two candidates are:
- Kathleen Doran-Norton
- Jake Gillen
Patch asked candidates to respond to a series of questions. Below, you will find responses from Doran-Norton. You can also read responses from incumbent Gillen here. Responses are written by the candidates and have not been edited by Patch.
In the coming weeks we'll run video interviews for candidates who are on Nov. 6's ballot in Northfield-related races. You can also find out more information about the candidates by checking out our election guide for all election-related stories.
Occupation: Currently Director of Enrollment Information and Research at St. Olaf College, I have worked in manufacturing, publishing and import companies.
Education: MBA, St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY; MEd Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Missouri-Columbia; BME in Music Therapy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Political/community involvement: Bridgewater Township supervisor since 2006, Dundas Planning Commission member for 4 years, EPIC Enterprise board of directors since 2006, Convened the Rice Creek Concerned Citizens group
Why are you running for a seat on the Rice County Board of Commissioners?
Now in a time that my generation is retiring from the workforce, I think we have an opportunity to rethink county government, employ data-driven decision-making, use technology to help people work smarter, collaboration to share services and reduce cost. I have always been interested in public policy that creates healthy community – after my MBA I worked for the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, NY; I have participated in Citizens League study committees on health care and post-secondary education; and convened the Rice Creek Concerned Citizens group to study how we protect our county’s only brook trout stream for future generations.
What’s the most pressing issue facing Rice County Board of Commissioners?
Of 87 counties, Rice County is the only one cited by the state for inadequate processing of its paperwork for certifying children and families for food stamps, emergency housing, child care and some medical service. While the county has taken some temporary action, there is more to do to move forward. The flip side of this issue is that we need to focus on economic development in new ways – collaborate in developing our workforce; focus on developing and maintaining our infrastructure – roads and Internet access.
What is something you think the current board has done well?
The county board has focused on economic development. Rice County is one of 11 Minnesota counties that funds economic development. For the $150,000 we’ve spend in county property levies, we’ve received about $2 million of outside funding.
What is something you think the current board hasn’t done well?
Rice County has prided itself in being the lowest tax county in the state, but it’s time to move beyond that. The county has called a halt to collaboration with other counties on social services. It has been slow to implement information systems which would improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It is not clear the board has sufficient information on hand to know when operations and services are falling behind and beginning to fail. It has not funded maintenance on 438 miles of county road ditches, harming habitat and causing more intensive use of chemicals. It could do a better job at informing the public in a way that mobilizes our community to change state policies and practices or to set goals that serve our community.
What would you have tried to do differently?
Collaborate with townships and cities, innovate our administrative work, use data-driven decision-making.
We need to think about our community goals across departments and across governmental units. For example, economic development needs to be more than one staff member in one department. It needs to be the basis of how we operate the county, working with the cities and townships, with other county offices – highways and planning and zoning – to create the best infrastructure and environment for business to grow.
Why should constituents vote for you on Election Day? What makes you a better choice than your opponent?
I have broad experience in business, in information technology, in reporting. I have served on a variety of boards, and have the knowledge and experience to evaluate budgets and finances. I am a hard worker, a high-energy person and very involved – I will make the time in my work and volunteer engagements to serve our county well. I listen, and consider every person’s thoughts and perspectives on issues. I will find the common ground among township and city, farmer and businesses and families. I am positive and focused on the future. If we work together, we can get things done. We can solve whatever challenges we face. We can build a better community, a more vital economy, and a healthier community.