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Winnebago County District 1 supervisor seat is not entirely uncontested

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Winnebago County Supervisor Terry Durby is pictured with Nancy Helm at the Oct. 10 environmental education center groundbreaking ceremony..JPG

Winnebago County Supervisor Terry Durby is pictured with Nancy Helm at the Oct. 10 environmental education center groundbreaking ceremony.

In the June 7 Republican primary for Winnebago County Board of Supervisors District 1, Terry Durby of Leland received 163 votes (50.15%) and Marvin Gudmonson of Leland received 162 votes (49.85%) in district precincts.

Gudmonson requested a vote recount, which later confirmed Durby as the winner. While Durby is the only candidate for the District 1 supervisor spot on the general election ballot, there is a write-in campaign in support of Gudmonson. Bill Jensvold of Buffalo Center is running unopposed for the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors District 3 seat.

Terry Durby

Durby said he seeks to build upon progress made since he was first elected, citing efforts to pay down debt and lower taxes.

“Winnebago County had one of the highest debt per capita rate in the state,” he said. “We had an outdated jail that had been written up for countless deficiencies. We had incurred debt through bridge replacements and road maintenance projects, and it was being paid for by wind turbine taxes. Since then we have refinanced twice and paid down a large amount of this debt. Our law enforcement facility was replaced and now we house inmates from two counties, which helps make the facility more sustainable.”

Durby also cited what the board has done to expand services for military veterans.

“This last year, we made the Veterans Affairs service officer position in Winnebago County a full-time position,” he said. “We felt the previous part-time position at 26 hours per week was not properly serving area veterans and their growing needs. It has proven very beneficial to the community as the service officer has been able to assist even more veterans to access state and federal benefits, which is a great economic impact to our area. We have also taken steps to make Winnebago County a Home Base Iowa County with incentives to attract retiring veterans from across the country to relocate here.”

Durby said that Winnebago County funding EMS as an essential service is a good starting point for locally addressing the lack of EMS resources and volunteers. He noted that some of the challenges come from dramatically underfunded reimbursement rates at the federal level through Medicare and Medicaid.

When asked about CO2 pipelines being proposed across parts of Iowa and the Midwest, Durby said he is not opposed to any pipeline if it does not infringe on landowners' rights to allow it, or not, on their property.

“At the county level and for public benefit, I have always tried to avoid any eminent domain forced upon property owners,” Durby said. “I feel that eminent domain should not be used for private projects.”

Durby said he’ll continue working to help ensure Winnebago County is a great place to raise a family, have quality work opportunities, and is an affordable place to retire.

Marvin Gudmonson

Gudmonson ran for a state representative seat against Henry Rayhons back in the 1980s and also ran for supervisor in Winnebago County about 25 years ago, losing a close race to Doug Yeager at the time, before choosing to farm and pursue other interests.

“I decided to give up on politics at the time,” Gudmonson said. “A lot of my neighbors were not satisfied with the incumbent and encouraged me to run, including Jordan Branstad and his brothers. I finally decided I’d put my name in the hat in the primary to see what would happen.”

After falling just short in the Republican primary race, his contingent of local supporters continued to push Gudmonson to run again in the general election.

“As a write-in candidate, I don’t get any publicity whatsoever, except what I’ve had to buy,” Gudmonson said. “The incumbents get all the publicity.”

He said that anyone voting for him needs to clearly print his full first and last name, Marvin Gudmonson, and mark the small oval next to it on the ballot. He noted it has to be clearly distinguishable that the voter’s intent was to vote for him for it to be counted.

Gudmonson cited two of the biggest issues that led him to run for District 1 supervisor as fiscal spending/debt management and the means of addressing the need for more EMS volunteers in the county.

“The biggest thing with the budget is, in the last few months, every county employee got a 9% raise,” Gudmonson said. “They could have done it in stages. You don’t see that in any corporation. Of course, we need so much money to run the county, but we can more closely watch how we spend it.”

However, Gudmonson maintained that money is needed to be invested prudently in getting and retaining EMS employees that are badly needed virtually everywhere, not just in Winnebago County.

“We should let people know that we’re going to spend the money on those (EMS) employees,” Gudmonson said. “If we can find them, talk to them, and get them to come work for us, it will be a real plus because every employer is looking for help.”

A Winnebago County EMS levy and income tax surcharge is also on the Nov. 8 ballot as a public measure. It calls for a property tax valuation of up to $0.75 per $1,000 valuation. The total proposal could yield $478,000 annually for up to 14 years, if not restructured.

“There are not enough ambulance crews and I think they’re falling short in the ways they’ve been presenting this to generate publicity,” said Gudmonson, noting his desire to invest more of that money in good ambulance workers and paramedics rather than an extravagant new building or excessive equipment. “Some are underpaid compared to sister counties, so we have to do something financially to help with that.”

He suggested that use of existing facilities in Thompson for a centrally located paramedic to assist the needs of county EMS services is possible. He said the fire station there has a kitchen and sleeping accommodations. He noted that ambulances and equipment are largely sufficient currently and reiterated that biggest need is good EMS workers.

Gudmonson said the county continues to carry too much debt, saying he has a list of cost-cutting ideas that would not impair services, including the aforementioned use of EMS funds and indebtedness related to the law enforcement center.

“The county has been living on a steak diet with a hamburger budget for far too long,” Gudmonson said. “Many of my neighbors feel the same way.”

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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