In seeking a seat at the Crow Wing County Board, Baxter resident Gary Walters said he was running for the office because many people in leadership positions are not doing their jobs.
Summarizing his belief in "lead, follow or get out of the way." Walters stated: "We have had enough of some local politicians who don't lead, rarely follow and are mostly just in the way."
In a news release announcing his candidacy, Walters stated people are tired of lip service while politicians say one thing and then vote the opposite.
"I by no means have all the answers but I know we have to be honest and up front with the people in our community," he said.
Walters filed earlier this week for the Crow Wing County commissioner District 4 seat. Other candidates for that seat include incumbent Gil Dewes, Nisswa, and newcomer Byron Eliseuson, Lake Edward Township.
Walters said too often local government forces decisions on the people. He pointed to a more ideal example from his neighborhood and the Baxter City Council. Walters said neighbors organized, most of the council listened and in the end they were able to work together.
For the county, Walters stated the biggest issue facing the board is public trust. Other issues he pointed to include county spending that he said is increasing at an "absurd level."
Walters said county leaders think county spending should go up by more than 15 percent.
"Obviously how much of our money they spend is not a big deal to some government leaders," he stated. He said inflation rates have been less than 3 percent on average while spending has increased at multiples of that level. While county services are needed, Walters stated unchecked spending cannot continue.
In regard to other issues before the county, Walters stated: "The county has a large road budget but many people in the cities around our county are upset that they are not getting their fair share of this money."
Walters stated he will work to improve the equitable distribution for all in the county.
Better public information was also listed as a priority. Walters said few people are aware of what is happening at the local level and governments do not go out of the way to share information.
"Many in the county have e-mail, why is this not utilized? ... The public needs to be made aware of the controversial items and the mistakes that we make."
Walters said he has found people want to get involved, and be heard but they are convinced no one is listening.
"My neighbors have learned I don't always agree with their position but they know I will listen. ... They know that I am not politically correct, but I fight for what is right."
Walters has lived in Baxter with his wife and four children for the past 12 years. He stated while the community has changed a lot, mostly for the good but sometimes the bad, he thinks this is still a "great place to live, work and raise a family. That is why we need leadership to make sure it stays that way."
Walters stated the area needs to grow and change "but we need to make sure that the growth and changes improve, not destroy our community."
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