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Beltrami County Board District 3: Candidates share views

Beltrami County District 3 candidates Scott Winger, left, and Richard Anderson answered questions during a forum at the Beltrami County Farm Bureau meeting Friday evening. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Candidates competing for the District 3 seat on the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners held a short forum during the Beltrami County Farm Bureau annual meeting Friday evening at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds.

District 3 consists of 13 rural townships and the villages of Solway and Wilton.

Richard Anderson is a Solway area farmer, former Bemidji School District teacher and administrator and Lammers Township Board member. Scott Winger of Pinewood, a Beltrami County Sheriff's deputy, scheduled to retire at the end of October. The two men are running in a special election Nov. 8 to fill the position vacated when the late Commissioner Jim Heltzer died in July.

Both candidates cited their lifelong connection with Beltrami County, 4-H backgrounds and desire to serve the public and give back to their communities.

In response to written questions about their priorities for the county, Winger said, "I think it's important to maintain a balanced budget and keep in touch with the people."

Anderson said, "I think roads are always important, keeping the balance, protection from crime."

A questioner specifically asked if the candidates, if elected, would repair the badly deteriorating District 3 County Roads 5, 24 and 32. Anderson, whose farm abuts County Road 5, said in the past it couldn't be repaired without bringing it up to a state standard that would be too expensive. That requirement has been lifted, so those roads should be taken care of, he said.

Winger said the roads should be on a regular repair schedule, and he would try to shorten the waiting time for them.

One of the Farm Bureau members asked about the candidates' support for the County Fair. Both Winger and Anderson said the fair is tremendously important and a tradition they would enthusiastically support.

On the issue of the Bemidji School Board referendum to build a new elementary school, a vote which will also be held Nov. 8, Anderson said he was undecided and needed to talk more with teachers, administrators and parents before coming to a conclusion. Winger said teachers, not buildings, are the most important educational asset. A school referendum this year might undermine the operating levy referendum needed next year, he said.

Both candidates responded to a question about making the 4-H coordinator's position full time. They said such a change would depend on the need.