Forum features six contenders for three Morrison County Board seats

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Six candidates for the three Morrison County Commissioner seats up for grabs in November appeared in a forum Monday to present their backgrounds and qualifications and to offer their views on life in Morrison County. The forum was moderated by Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Deb Boelz.

When asked what motivated them to seek a seat on the County Board, the candidates expressed a desire to help their fellow citizens.

“I try to make a difference in the lives of people,” said Kevin Maurer, candidate in District 1, the seat now held by retiring Commissioner Tom Wenzel.

“I love public service and doing the right thing,” said Jeffrey Jelinski, District 2 candidate vying for the seat now held by Commissioner Jeff Schilling.

“I work for all the people and not just a few,” said District 3 Commissioner Rich Collins.

“I like helping people,” said Schilling. “My decisions are based on fact with a little feeling mixed in.”

District 3 challenger Randy Winscher said, “I like the challenge of solving issues.”

District 1 candidate Sharon Ballou said, “I have gotten more back from being in public service over 40 years than anything I’ve given.”

Candidates were also asked how they would meet the increasing demand for services with decreasing revenue, the county’s relationship with Camp Ripley and what each candidate likes most about living in Morrison County as well as the challenges of living here. The last question asked how Morrison County would be different because of the candidate’s presence on the Board.

“We need to bring back accountability, and the dignity and respect for the office of commissioner,” said Jelinski.

“In Morrison County we all work together to accomplish so much,” Collins said. “It will be a challenge getting through the next couple of years with the federal and state deficits, but I am looking forward to future growth in our county.”

“I love the small-town atmosphere,” Winscher said.

“We have a strong dedication to both youth and senior citizens, with very strong faith and fellowship,” said Ballou.

“It’s too easy to focus on various issues happening and fail to see all the good things and people who are here,” Maurer said.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world,” Jelinski said. “I can’t think of a better place to live. We’ve made a lot of things work with less, but nothing is free.”

“It is a challenge balancing between taxes and services,” said Schilling.

Approximately 20 people attended the forum.

Little Falls resident Margaret Johnson attended to find out what the two candidates in her district stood for. “I wanted to see how they presented themselves,” she said.

Another retired woman is still trying to make a decision between her district’s two candidates, and thought the forum really helped.

Little Falls District 2 resident Jerry Chandler, who also has property in District 1, said, “I wanted to observe the abilities of the candidates to articulate their views and their capacity to relate to obvious public needs.”

In closing, Boelz reminded everyone to vote Tuesday Nov. 6.

Candidates for three open seats on the Morrison County Board appeared at a Forum Monday at Little Falls City Hall, moderated by Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Deb Boelz. Pictured are (from left): Sharon Ballou and Kevin Maurer, running for the District 1 seat; Jeffrey J. Jelinski and Jeff Schilling, running for the District 2 seat; and Rich Collins and Randy Winscher, running for the District 3 seat.