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Monday, July 28, 2014

It's not your Father's Olds -- or Supervisors

Monday, May 21, 2012

Registered voters in Plymouth County have the opportunity to participate in the most hotly contested primary election in many, many years. The primary is on June fifth, but you may request an absentee ballot from the auditor's office now.

Iowa law allows counties to adopt one of three plans for Supervisor districts. Plan 'One' is election at large without district residence requirements. 'Two' calls for election at large but with equal-population district residence requirements for the members. 'Three' is election from single-member, equal-population districts in which the electors of each district shall elect one member who must reside in that district. Plymouth County uses plan two.

In the new district two Wayne Schipper and Mark Loutsch are on the ballot this year, and it is Merlin Wagner versus Don Kass in district three. Jim Henrich will try to hold his seat against Dan Smith in the fifth. The winners will make $29,326 next year. The estimated median county household income in 2009 was $50,684, up $9,046 from 1999.

The Plymouth County Board now consists of five men but the ten-year redistricting plan has thrown Kass and Loutsch together. The latter has announced that he will move (only if he wins), into Le Mars, rather than run against Kass and Wagner.

All of those on the supervisor ballot are Republicans, as are both Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo and his challenger, Jay King. Since there are no contested Democrat races in the county this year, this could result in many Democrats re-registering as -oh my!- temporary Repubs to support (likely) one of the challengers.

The southern approximately 1/3 of the county hasn't had a resident member of the Board since Paul Sitzmann in 2005. My sources cannot remember a woman ever running for a Supervisor position, let alone being elected.

As listed on the Auditors site, the following are some of the more important duties and powers of the Board: "Approve bonds of county officials; Establish and vacate public highways; Levy taxes to raise revenue for county purposes; Allow claims against the county and order same to be paid; Fill vacancies in county offices, except of its own body; Constitute a drainage board to the various districts of the county; Make official canvass of the votes of the county at the primary and general election."

Once upon a time being a farmer was almost a requirement for service on the Board of a rural county, but the duties have evolved a great deal from roads and bridges. Hence the 'Not your Father's Olds' reference.

The list of duties should be updated to include health and welfare, administering the Local Option Sales Tax program, and economic development. Local governments can encourage economic development by maintaining infrastructure, having a sound fiscal policy, providing recreational opportunities, and fostering a stable environment. It isn't just about attracting new industry, for supporting existing businesses is even more important. Past and current board members have done that.

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My friend Congressman Tom Latham, his opponent Leonard Boswell, Dave Loebsack, Christy Vilsack, and on the local level, Mark Loutsch, all send the message, to me at least, that they are a bit 'full of themselves.' They have all moved (or in Loutsch's case, plan to move) into a district they think needs their service!

I have nothing against Mr. Loutsch, or his record. I simply don't support carpetbaggers, no matter who they are, or what their politics are. Farm groups will likely strongly support Loutsch.

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This would make a good political ad for a Republican in Michigan. "Yo, Detroit -- you haven't had a Republican mayor for 42 years. 'Enuff said?"

When Forbes magazine compiled a list of the 20 most miserable cities in the U.S., Detroit came in second to Miami. Home prices, down 54% in the past three years in Detroit, plus crime, and general inefficiencies are responsible. Eight cities in California were in the top (bottom!) twenty.

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Remembering Sallee (Rippey) Jepsen, who with her mother Edna lived on the NE corner of 11th Street and Central Avenue SE. Sallee was in the Le Mars 1952 graduating class and plans to return this September for the 60th reunion. A teacher, she and her husband Lee, a school administrator, lived in Le Mars before moving to Ft. Dodge in 1972, and then to Hastings, MN in 1997. Lee passed away in 2004.

Edna was the secretary in the Plymouth County Engineers office for many years and Sallee's uncle, Ralph Rippey, was the sheriff during the turbulent times of the 'Farmer's Holiday' in the early 1930's. Sallee's cousins, Shirley (Warner) Lang, and Dean Warner still live in Le Mars.

Don Paulin, 2carpenterdon@gmail.com, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236

By Don Paulin
Been There, Done That