Supervisor Seat Only Contested County Race In Republican Primary Election
Mills County voters won’t have to make very many decisions when they cast their ballots in the June 7 primary election.
That’s because when it comes to county offices, there’s only one contested race – on the Republican ballot where incumbent county supervisor Richard Crouch is being challenged by Sandi Winton, chair of the Mills County Republican Party.
Crouch has served as a county supervisor for 20 years while Winton is trying for a second time to gain a seat on the county board. She ran unsuccessfully in 2020, finishing third behind incumbents Lonnie Mayberry and Carol Vinton in the Republican primary.
Crouch said “experience” is the key asset he possesses as he seeks re-election to a sixth term on board.
“My experience as a Mills County Supervisor over the past 20 years has given me the knowledge and understanding to see beyond the face of the department and the people of the community,” he stated.
Crouch touted his work over the years in the areas of mental health, veterans affairs and EMS. He’s served on several regional and state committees over the past two decades and is currently the president of the Iowa Association of Counties (ISAC) board of directors.
Winton said her experiences, both professionally and through service on several committees and boards, make her qualified to serve on the county board. She has marketing and budgeting experience through a position she held at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and is a licensed real estate agent. She’s also served on several committees and boards, including the Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce and Mills County Boards of Compensation and
Adjustments. Following the major flooding event in 2019, Winton was chosen to serve on the Governor’s Workforce and Housing Workgroup and the Long-term Housing Recovery Team.
“I have volunteered throughout Mills County, trying my best to help the county and its residents have a passion for our county and want to help where I can,” she said.
There are no Democratic candidates running in the primary election for the county supervisor position (or any other county offices) so the winner of the June 7 primary is highly likely to be elected in the November general election.
Other county offices up for election this year include county recorder, county treasurer and county attorney. Republican incumbents LuAnne Christiansen, Jill Ford and Naeda Elliott are seeking re-election to those positions.
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CANDIDATE Q &A
EDITOR’S NOTE - County supervisor candidates Richard Crouch and Sandi Winton are running against one another as Republicans in the June 7 primary election. One seat on the board, currently occupied by Crouch, is up for election in 2022. The two candidates were asked the following questions during in-person interviews with The Opinion-Tribune:
Why are you running for county supervisor?
Crouch: I enjoy taking care of the people of Mills County, seeing that things are done in an orderly manner.
Winton: I’m running for supervisor because I feel that I can bring leadership and a strong, proactive voice to Mills County. We will face challenges together and I want to make sure our leaders hear us.
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What are the most significant issues you expect the county board to be confronted with over the next four years?
Winton: I think because of the flood and then COVID, our small businesses have been really hurt and impacted. I think we need to do as much as we can to help our small businesses.
I think we need to take the pressure off of our residents as far as property taxes. I’m not going to say I’m going to lower them because everybody running for office says that and they don’t do it so I’m not going to make promises I can’t keep, but if I can get them lowered or at least stabilized, that would be my goal.
I think we need to increase economic development in the county. I’ve recently done a survey on Facebook and from that survey, the majority of the people want economic development and they want jobs available in Mills County. I think large commercial businesses take pressure off residential housing.
Another thing I would like to work on is what is called the Super 2 Highway – going from Glenwood through Red Oak and beyond. It’s (Highway 34) a traffic hazard and unsafe because people not being able to get around. They need to be able to pass, so by making the Super 2 Highway, that would make the commute a lot safer. I would love a four-lane highway but the money is not there. DOT has been talking for the last four or five years about making a Super 2 Highway – it’s just adding extra passing spaces.
Crouch: There’s always projects you want to see finished and I would say the two main projects I would like to see finished are first, emergency service throughout the county because of our lack of volunteers. It’s not working any more. The Malvern Bank had a running message on their sign asking for volunteers. Not one person applied and I think the reason is it takes too much training and too much time. You can’t blame people in this day and age.
I know, years ago, when people did this, they had to put in like 40 hours at the emergency room when they could to become certified. Now, it takes weeks and months of studying and classes.
The legislature gave us the power to put a tax on (from EMS) but it has to be voted on by the people. We’re working on that to get it done (on ballot) this November.
Another one – one that we’re working on right now - is broadband. I think it’s very important after the COVID where the kids didn’t know if they were going to be in school. How do you have your classes and get your assignments? Can we teach over the airwaves? Why not?
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If you are elected by voters, what will your priorities as a supervisor be for the next four years?
Crouch: The main one would be to get us an emergency services system put in place.
Public health is always a major concern because we don’t have a hospital in Mills County. Keeping that office up to staff and providing a place for them to have their clinics. We’re going to build onto the building down there for future expansion.
Roads. We’ve got a lot of roads that people complain about. We have people that want roads paved. We have a process for doing that.
I would like to see rural water in some areas, just for the purpose of public safety. You can’t haul enough water to a house fire or business fire with what we have. Trying to get water out to a fire, we have houses built in a small area that are close together. You see it on TV, a house catches on fire, the wind comes up and it just wipes out blocks.
I would like to see economic growth. We’re working on the levee accreditation to help with that.
Winton: Listening to the people of Mills County. It’s their voice that I’m representing. That’s my main goal.
I’ve had “meet and greets” in the county – I’ve had 3 – and it’s been really good to meet new people and to hear what their concerns are. That’s our most important job – watching out for peoples’ taxes and listening to the people.
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What are some of the areas you think the county is doing a good job at?
Winton: Mills County is an amazing place. Overall, I think our county is in good shape. What I think is there’s always room for improvement and that’s what I want to bring – fresh ideas, fresh eyes and new vision to see what we can improve on and see if we can make Mills County better.
Overall, I think Mills County is a great place to live and I’m thrilled we moved here almost 19 years ago. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but we can always do better.
Crouch: For starters, our engineer’s department. We hired a new engineer. He’s very energetic and very talented. He came to us wanting to start something new called Roadside Service. It’s a maintenance person. He actually said to us, “I’ll give up some equipment if I have to because we need someone to keep up on conditions and monitoring things.” If a resident calls and says there’s a problem somewhere – brush hanging out on a road or something - he’s the person that’s going to be advising the road crew and helping them out on certain things.
Public health is another one. You look at the pandemic, who knew what we were going to have to do without the help of a hospital?
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What are some areas the county needs to make improvements on?
Crouch: Economic development, but that’s very tough. Everyone likes the I-29/Highway 34 corridor but being we can’t get much accreditation help (for the Missouri River levee) or can’t things to move forward, there are a lot of companies just sitting on the edge waiting for the government or someone to say, “OK, you can go ahead and build here.” Of course, there are other places people are looking at. There’s the mega site (east of Glenwood) Mid-American Energy has an option on. I think something could happen in the next couple years.
As far as economic development, we’ve got to get stuff in here to take care of some of the tax base. Raising taxes and raising taxes is not the answer to keep improving the county. The taxes I pay, it gets a little tough to walk up to the counter and write the check out. We’ve got to development some extra tax base.
Roads is always a major issue, too.
Winton: I think that we could improve on some of our roads but in order to do that we need to get more funding without the pressure being put on residents once again. By doing that, we can go after more grants. I’d like to see a grant writer in our county and the grant writer would pay for themselves because they would write their fees into that grant.
Mills County is missing out on a lot of grants. They just are because we have nobody to go after them. Matt Gray does a great job for the (Glenwood) Fire Department. He’s a perfect example. If we had somebody working on behalf of the county, we would be in a lot better shape and we’d get things that we need without having to raise taxes.
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What makes you the best qualified candidate for the job?
Winton: I have budget experience in my past careers, coming from Whiteman Air Force Base where I was the director of marketing. I had to do my own budget and help out with the budget of 15 other facilities. I have leadership experience, from being co-chair of RAGBRAI here in Glenwood to being on the Board of Compensation and the Board of Adjustments. I was vice chair for the Board of Adjustments for several years. I have worked extensively in the community on different projects.
I have fresh eyes, new vision and a lot of energy.
Crouch: The time I’ve spent the past 20 years in making relationships from the state level to the federal level. The problem solving that I’ve been able to come up with with friends at the state and federal level that I can call, whether its at the capital or in one of the state agenices. We’ve had to call Grassley and Ernst’s office several times for certain organizations down here and it’s nice to have a relationship that’s built over a period of time.
I just feel like my experience in the fields of everything that I’ve had to handle over the years is important, I’ve been a watchdog of the budget. We’ve always tried to keep within our means. Very seldom have we raised a large amount of taxes.