CROSSLAKE -- Two Pequot Lakes residents who are battling for the Crow Wing County District 2 commissioner seat faced off during a candidate forum Tuesday night at the Crosslake Community Center.
The forum was sponsored by the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce. Six races were debated in front of an audience of about 100.
Incumbent Ed Larsen and David Kennedy are vying for the four-year commissioner seat. The candidates agreed growth is a major issue the county needs to address.
"I've seen a lot of changes, especially in the last five years in growth," said Kennedy. "We need to make sure we set the standards high enough."
Larsen said no matter what people say, the county is growing. He said the county needs to have a balance between economic development and the environment safeguards.
"We would have more young people stay here, who'd have their own children and that'd happen if we have quality economic development ... If we had that the people could afford to stay here," said Larsen. "We live here so we need the development. We need to make the smaller communities more valuable to make it (economic development) happen."
Ed Larsen: "I care, I listen, I get results."
When asked what the major needs are in the county associated with growth, Kennedy said transportation. He said the board has taken initial steps, such as the countywide transportation system. However, he said more has to be done.
"How will it dovetail with other systems?" he said.
Kennedy also said with the expansion of Highway 371, the county may have to provide alternative routes, such as more service roads for people who don't need to take the highway.
Larsen said the county has been aggressive with the transportation system.
He said the most immediate need in the county is to finish what the county has already started. For instance, the county is reorganizing departments to become more customer friendly.
In closing statements, Larsen said he will work, attend meetings, get answers and will solve the problems in the county.
"I want to continue what we've done," he said.
Kennedy asked residents to choose the conservative approach to government. He said he will work to improve service and efficiency for the people so they will be able to afford to live in the county.
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