Al Winters is focused on the future.
If the 64-year-old businessman and Osage native got elected to the board of supervisors, Winters said he'd work on the major issues of the day for Mitchell County but would also be thinking about 2040 and beyond.
"What I would like to do if I get on the board is form some type of committee from residents and put together a road map of where we’re going in the next 10-20 years," Winters said. "There’s a lot of research out there that you can look at and we need to tap into those things and put some good minds to this."
Winters is big about new ideas and bringing new people through the door. Repeatedly he talks about being innovative and how vital innovation is for the sustainability of an area. One he has in mind is broadband and internet connectivity issues. Even now, upload and download speeds can be slower in more rural parts of the start. And at a time when so many more people are working from home, that's a problem. Finding a solution can be a major benefit for Mitchell County.
"That is going to provide this county with immense opportunities if it is accessible for all people," Winters said.
Agriculture's as big of focus for Winters as technology is. He refers to himself as an "old farmboy" and recognizes that ag plays an outsized role in the economic strength of the county. With that, Winters said it's important to bolster the farmlands.
"We have to support these producers and make sure they can get business."
While Winters talks a lot about looking forward and solving present problems, there are issues where he made clear he cares about the past. Particularly when it comes to buildings.
One realm Winters believes that the county board should occupy is incentivizing upkeep and improvements for buildings in the county that are now decades old or older. "There are a lot of buildings on Main Street that are 100 years old and require a lot of upkeep and we really ought to look at taxes on those," he said.
Of course, such projects demand funding and Winters said he wants to be responsible with finding funding that makes sense for the county. He wants to use tax increment financing or TIF money, which redirects a portion of their taxes to help finance development in an area, where it makes sense.
"In the whole realm of things, TIF has a purpose. TIF has opportunities. But it’s got to be managed wisely and done with a lot of thought," Winters said. "There’s a lot of money that is going to be on the table that’s going to have to be managed properly to provide growth and protect the taxpayers."
When Jim Wherry was growing up, he thought often about leaving his native Mitchell County fo…
Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Jared.McNett@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.