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Heltzer, Vene announce Beltrami County Board candidacy

Jim Heltzer, 12-year veteran Beltrami County Commissioner, and Joe Vene, who has served on the County Board since November 2004, announced their intent to file for candidacy for re-election Tuesday.

"It would be a great privilege for me to continue to represent the people of the third commissioner district, as I have done for the past 12 years," Heltzer wrote in his announcement. "I believe that my record of service to the county and community qualifies me for continued service on the board."

Vene, who won re-election to a four-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2007, said in his announcement, "As a County Board member, who spent many hours working with county employees and department heads in realigning our 2010 budget, and participating in our Strategy Aligned Government initiative, which supports a private business model, I am happy to report that we were able to lower county spending by $330,855.00. I intend to continue that standard and direction."

A veteran of the U.S. Army, long-time Beltrami County resident and a former teacher, Vene served multiple counties as a Juvenile Corrections Facility Superintendent until retirement in 2001. He also served on the former City of Bemidji Planning Commission for 17 years. Vene is actively engaged at the local, regional, state and federal levels in committee assignments working to develop common-sense public policy while serving as a member or chair of various committees and boards, including a task force working to locate a Veterans' Home in Northern Minnesota and active engagement as part of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Division response and capabilities.

Heltzer said he recognizes that his first and foremost represents the people of the 13 townships in his district and places their interests above all others. He works to keep in touch with them through his newsletter and by being responsive to telephone calls and e-mails.

"I have, and will continue to support efforts to reduce the size of county government and hold down the growth of property taxes," he said.

He said maintenance of county roads is one of the county's major responsibilities. He is aware of the road needs in his district and will work to meet those needs.

Vene is active in rural county issues within the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) and serves as District 2 Director for Lake of the Woods, Clearwater, Cass, Itasca and Beltrami Counties.

Vene said he truly believes it is an honor and a privilege to serve the public and that he works hard to hold the line on spending by being actively involved in all facets of government service.

Heltzer is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area and has in the past served on boards of the Headwaters Science Center, Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Senior Activity Center, Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and Bemidji State University Foundation, as well as boards and committees at his church.

"Our challenge is to address the main issue which is our economy," Vene said. "Counties have a role in problem solving with the state on budget deficits and in solving mutual problems in a tight fiscal climate. All partners, especially those who contract to provide for services to the county and its' clients, need to be held accountable in spending taxpayer dollars. "

Heltzer said he is concerned to maintain Beltrami County so that future generations "can continue to enjoy clean water, clean air. "As a member of the Parks and Trails Advisory Committee, I feel that careful development of our parks and trails are of utmost importance."

Heltzer cited the Beltrami County Fair, 4-H, Extension Services, Housing and Redevelopment and DWI Court as further important programs that serve the people and are "cost effective and critical to our county."

Vene addressed social issues saying, "The balance we are tasked with is to not only manage care for the most vulnerable, but also to assure that all citizens seeking assistance become productive and self-sustaining.

"In county government the levy is the amount of money raised by taxes. The budget is the amount of money the county estimates it will need to spend for required services and functions. Governments must produce and deliver needed functions and services within budgetary boundaries using a business model. The best practices of successful private businesses should be the foundation of county government."

--Molly Miron