Voters in Crow Wing County's District 1 now have a primary race with this morning's filing by W. Stephen Smith of rural Brainerd for county board.
The 50-year-old Smith will face incumbent Commissioner Jim Hill and Dewayne "Dewey" Tautges in the Sept. 12 primary.
In legislative races, two incumbents, Rep. Kris Hasskamp and Rep. Steve Wenzel, and one challenger, Wayne Hoffert, filed Monday.
Smith is a facilities manager, responsible for 22 buildings in four states, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is in charge of all custodial maintenance and contracted work for the buildings. In addition, he has experience as a general contractor and as a public works administrator.
A desire to get involved and to stop tax hikes persuaded Smith to run.
"I'm tired of my taxes going up every year and I feel like there's a need for a little more frugality and maybe better management at the top," Smith said. "That's the big issue. I think we need to keep a lid on taxes and get more out of the money we're spending."
Smith said he has concerns about the board's recent decision to hire a county administrator at a sizable salary.
"I'm not real sold on this new county administrator position," Smith said. "I'm not sure there isn't a hidden agenda to do away with elected positions."
Smith ran unsuccessfully for the Brainerd School Board three times.
Rep. Hasskamp, DFL-Crosby, and Rep. Wenzel, DFL-Little Falls filed for re-election Monday and Republican Wayne Hoffert of Staples has filed for the District 11 Senate seat.
Meanwhile, two Crow Wing County commissioners, Terry Sluss and John Ferrari, faced no opposition as of this morning.
Mary Koep, who was defeated by Sluss four years ago, has said she intended to run for the county board again but would not tip her hand about a candidacy when contacted today.
"It (filing) closes at 5 p.m. today so you'll know tomorrow," Koep said.
In Cass County, Norm Rogers of Pequot Lakes filed for the District 2 commissioner post. He's running against incumbent Commissioner Jim Demgen. Rogers could not be reached for comment today.
Hasskamp, 49, was first elected to the House in 1988. She said in a news release she is pleased to provide, year-round, full-time representation to her constituents.
"I've responded to local requests and needs and worked hard to help obtain projects and laws that are important to Crow Wing County and improve our quality of life," she said. "I also have given priority to to being an ally and tenacious advocate for all my constituents."
She listed authorship of key provisions of the recently enacted tax cut, the largest in state history, as among her legislative accomplishments.
"I have also worked hard to provide property tax relief , environmental preservation, access to quality health care, sufficient funding of public education and laws to protect public safety for Crow Wing County," she said.
A graduate of Crosby-Ironton High School, Hasskamp received an associate of arts degree from Brainerd Community College and a bachelor of science degree in education from Bemidji State University.
Hasskamp, who will be a member of the Tax Committee next session, currently serves on Taxes (property tax division) Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs and Commerce committees. She is also involved in consumer affairs, tourism, insurance and banking issues and is a member of the Legislative Audit Commission.
Wenzel, in his formal candidacy announcement, pledged to continue efforts to fight for a strong farm and rural economy, fairer property taxes, greater support for education, tougher penalties for violent crime and the protection of unborn life.
Wenzel, 53, served on the House-Senate Conference Committee on the transportation bill this year. That effort produced the first major transportation funding bill in 12 years, providing $654 million for roads and bridges across the state.
"This funding will advance the timetable for turning Highway 371 between Little falls and Brainerd into a four-lane road," he said. "It will assure funding for the entire project, including the $6.7 million for the construction of a modern overpass to Brainerd."
District 12 projects that Wenzel said he won approval for in 199-2000 include:
-- $300,0000 special appropriation to the Little Falls schools to restore lost state aid for the all-day kindergarten program.
-- $675,000 to Baxter for the College Road extension.
-- $125,000 for renovation and expansion of the Camp Ripley Military Museum.
-- $100,000 to a study linking central Minnesota to the Twin Cities by commuter rail.
-- $100,000 to the Garrison-Kathio-West Mille Lacs Sanitary District to plan for improved sewage treatment.
-- $100,000 to support the Minnesota Milk Producers' lawsuit aimed at overturning discriminatory federal milk marketing orders.
Wenzel is an adjunct faculty member in political science at Central Lakes College and a lifetime resident of Morrison County. He is a member of St. Mary's Church of Little Falls, the Crow Wing and Morrison Chapters of the Minnesot Deerhunters Association, the Central Lake Community College Education Association, the Knights of Columbus and the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
Hoffert, 49, is running for the District 11 Senate seat held by Sen. Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples. He is a manufacturing supervisor for Case New Holland Corp. in Fargo, N.D., and ran unsuccessfully against Sams in 1996.
He described himself as "very pro-life" and stressed his commitment to integrity.
"I'm committed to working on issues they (the voters) want worked on," Hoffert said. "Our state senator is not there to take his personal agenda to the Legislature. Their (the voters') voice will be more important to me than any special interest group. They're going to be my special interest group."
Rural issues will emphasized by Hoffert.
"We're raising our children out here because we want something different for them," he said. "We don't want to be metropolitan."
Also filing Monday was Buford Johnson who will run against the endorsed candidate in the Independence Party primary for the U.S. Senate.
Although they both had been endorsed by DFLers this marked was the first official announcement of their candidacies.
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