Along with the usual state and federal ballot issues, Tuesday’s general election will give Mills County residents an opportunity to vote on a pair of contested races for county courthouse positions.
Republican incumbent county supervisor Richard Crouch is being challenged by Jack May, a candidate by petition, and Republican Becky Killpack is opposed by candidate by petition Craig Florian for the position of county treasurer. Two candidates are running unopposed for courthouse positions – Republican Eric Hansen for county attorney and incumbent Republican recorder Vicki McClintic.
On the state level, the offices of governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, secretary of agriculture and attorney general are on the ballot this year. Republican state senator Hubert Houser in District 49 is opposed by Democrat Scott Schondelmeyer while District 97 and District 98 Republican state representatives Richard Anderson and Greg Forristall are both unning unopposed.
In Glenwood, residents will be voting on the fate of a $2.2 million bond issue that would partially fund construction of a $3.5 million outdoor swimming pool.
Polls will be open on Tuesday across Mills County from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Early and absentee voting is taking place this week at the Mills County Auditor’s Office.
Richard Crouch (R)
Richard Crouch, 63, of rural Malvern, is completing his second four-year term on the three-person board of supervisors. He and his wife, Barb, have four children – Gary, Diana, Russell and Joel.
Singling out several accomplishments by the county board over the past eight years, Crouch said he stands by his record as an elected official.
"When I first got on, one of the main things being talked about was that the local residents could not use the landfill. That was taken care of. Another issue was getting the Indian Creek Museum back to the people. They wanted to buy it back from the county,” Crouch said. “The real big thing that came in hard for us was the zoning ordinance that people wanted on account of the sexually-oriented businesses that were starting to pop up in the county.
“Another important issue is the I-29 / Highway 34 corridor, where the county actually went in and laid the water and sewer from Pacific Junction to the rest areas for future development.”
Crouch said the county will be confronted by several issues in the coming years, most notably an outdated county jail that is nearly a 100 years old.
“We need to build a jail,” Crouch said. “Some day the state inspector is going to come down and put a padlock on it and we’re done. Then we’ll have to do something, but we have to look at a price that the Mills County people can afford. We’re going to look at the options.”
Crouch expects the construction of the U.S. Highway 34 – Missouri River Bridge in 2013 to spark growth and economic development. He’s optimistic the bridge will help develop the 190th Street industrial area, both north and south of Highway 34. He’d like to see more businesses like A&M Greenpower expand or set up shop in Mills County.
“A & M Greenpower is there now and it’s a great facility,” Crouch said. “Some people have said that you shouldn’t give them (businesses) any tax incentives. A lot of people don’t understand when you have a business like that how much they’re going to pay to Mills County. You get four or five businesses that size or bigger, you’re talking about a million dollars easy in property taxes in that area. I would much rather in five years, be drawing a large property tax off of that than asking the people for more money.”
Crouch and fellow county supervisors Ron Kohn and Joe Blankenship have been criticized in recent months for the county’s building permit guidelines that were put in place a couple years ago. It’s the issue that prompted May to run against Crouch.
Crouch said he believes the majority of Mills County residents support the permit system, but he and other board members realize that there is always room for tweaking the guidelines to best serve the county. Crouch believes misinformation about the permits has contributed to some of the sentiment by May and others.
“We’re looking at working on the permitting. A big issue, I think, is the personnel in the permitting office. They had an employee that wasn’t working well with the public and that’s been changed. I realize everything isn’t covered, but the main thing is safety issues.
“I don’t think a lot of people really read the ordinance that was passed. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Iowa is ag-exempt. Other than electrical, which is state coded now, you don’t need permits for most of the work (if agriculture is your business). I just put up a new bin and built a new shed. I don’t need a permit for either one, as long as I don’t put electrical in. It’s been difficult to explain to people. We’re looking at the fees. The board thinks some of them are out of line, too.”
Like Crouch, Jack May, 67, of rural Silver City is a lifelong Mills County resident. He and his wife, Mary, have two children – daughter Sandra and son Mike. They have four grandchildren.
May makes no bones about it – he became a candidate for county supervisor because he opposes the county building permit ordinance.
“We brought petitions to board of supervisors and we had quite a crowd in the courthouse, but there was no response whatsoever,” May said. “It’s not fair for the acreage people to be different than the farm people. Some of the farms are exempt. We’re two years into this and they’re still having meetings trying to decide what a farm is. Many people moved (from the city) to acreages to get away from the permits.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to try to get this permit thing repealed. It might take a couple years. I think something that big should be put to a public vote.”
May agrees with Crouch that the county needs to address its jail needs, but another issue of concern is the number of Mills County residents that commute to Omaha and Council Bluffs on a daily basis.
“It concerns me a lot when I come over here and see hundreds and hundreds of cars go west to work. They get on that interstate and they’re gone for the day. Before they come home, they do their retail shopping. When they get home to Malvern or Henderson or Silver City, they just go into the house. All that money is being spent outside of Mills County.
“We need some something in Mills County for the people. I don’t know why we can’t have that. With the technology we have today, it seems just as easy to have an office building in Malvern as it is having one in Omaha. I don’t know if we’ll ever get it turned around.”
Rural water and interstate development are two other issues May believes the county board will be addressing in the coming years.
Crouch and others have speculated publicly that May is running as a sounding board for former county supervisor Don Brantz, one of the organizers of the anti-permit petition drive. May said he has not spoken to Brantz since he officially became a candidate.
“Don put some ads in the paper about the meetings we were having, but we haven’t had any meetings since I was nominated for the supervisor job,” May said. “I haven’t talked to him and Don’s backed away.”
Craig Florian (NPB)
Craig Florian, 42, is a Glenwood native. He and his wife, Vicky, have one son, Zane, who is in the eighth grade.
Florian is a former Mills County Treasurer’s Office employee who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Janette Blackburn in 2002. He specialized in the driver’s license testing during his tenure at the treasurer’s office. He’s been on the Glenwood City Council for the past eight years. He’s been employed in the retail industry since leaving the treasurer’s office where he holds a management position.
Florian said he considers himself a “true independent” and believes his strongest asset is his attention to customer service.
“It’s a combination of a couple of things,” Florian said. “If I have an ability that sets me apart from others, it’s how I deal with the public. I’m very proud of the fact that I have a flawless public service record. I’m somebody that’s been away from the office for a little while. I’ve learned what it’s like in retail – I saw what a challenge that is, especially in a difficult economic time.”
Florian said he would retain the current treasurer’s office staff if elected, but he has several ideas to enhance the quality of service being provided to the public.
“I’ve got some new ideas and at the candidate’s forum, I didn’t hear of any new ideas (from my opponent),” he said. “I want to follow up on the courthouse being opened maybe one night a week and staggering the workshift. It would be me and one of the other employees working on that night. They would come in and work noon to 8 instead of working 8 to 4:30 or something like that.
“I really think it’s important with the Council Bluffs driver’s license station being so overloaded with such limited hours, I think it’s time we bring commercial truck drive testing back to Mills County. We do generate extra money for offering that service and it may help put people back to work.”
Florian said he would also promote more cross-training of employees in the treasurer’s office because of the multiple responsibilities the job entails on both the driving, automotive and property tax sides.
Becky Killpack (R)
Becky Killpack is a lifelong Glenwood-area resident and the mother of two children – Alex, 16, and Dana, 14.
Killpack has been employed in the Mills County Treasurer’s Office for the past 8 1/2 years.
“I started as an auto deputy. I was already trained in driver’s license. I worked for the DOT for two years in Council Bluffs before coming here,” Killpack said. “I’ve learned all of the office over the past 8 1/2 years – driver’s license, auto and taxes.”
Killpack said she considers herself to be an even-keel person who believes her primary role as a county government employee is to serve the public.
“I’m someone who is level-headed, willing to listen to the customer and take in the information so that we know where to go to help them,” Killpack said. “Similar software in different departments makes it easier to help customers.
“We’re the messenger. The tax bills come out and people don’t like to pay the money, so that’s something to be sensitive to. They come to us and we’re the last person they see, so it’s our responsibility to be able to explain that to people. There’s a lot of different issues out there that can affect taxes over the next four years – the schools and the possible jail bond (to name a couple).”
If elected, Killpack would also promote cross-training of employees but doesn’t envision drastic changes at the office.
“Driver’s license and auto are pretty well established so I don’t see very many changes there,” she said. “We do drive tests five days a week by appointment. That’s something I do. Should I be elected, I will train someone else to do that to help out.”
As for Florian’s suggestion of having the office open late one night a week, Killpack said it’s been tried before and was not cost effective.
Eric Hansen, 39, has spent the last 7 1/2 years as Assistant Mills County Attorney under Marci McClellan. Hansen’s duties have consisted of primarily working in the Magistrate Court, prosecuting simple misdemeanors, domestic assaults, assaults against the elderly and the disabled and handling county civil work not handled by the county’s insurance carrier.
The son of a career Air Force officer, Hansen moved around frequently while growing up before graduating from Papillion-LaVista High School. He holds an undergraduate degree from Drake University and a law degree from Creighton University.
Hansen, a Republican, is seeking to fill McClellan’s office. McClellan announced this summer she would not be seeking a third term.
“Of all the different things I have done in my legal career, this is what I’ve enjoyed the most,” said Hansen when asked why he decided to run. “When the need arose that someone was needed to step into this position, I didn’t hesitate. If that was what was needed to happen then I was ready to step in and do that because I’ve enjoyed this job, and I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job down here.
“And I wanted to maintain the high level of quality that we’ve been able to give to the county since Marci came into office.”
Running for her second term as Mills County Recorder, Vicki McClintic is no stranger to the Recorder’s Office. Prior to being elected four years ago to her current position, McClintic, 65, worked 12 years as a deputy recorder in the department.
Being recorder means McClintic and her staff wear “many hats,” she said.
“What people don’t realize is our primary job is to save these records,” she said. “We keep things for centuries and they have to be able to be accessed and protected. That’s our main job.”
The recorder is in charge of the county’s land records, vital statistics, including birth, death and marriage records, military discharges, licensing of all recreation vehicles, including snow mobiles, boats and ATVs. McClintic’s office also serves as a passport agent.
Beginning in September 2009, the document process in the recorder’s office went “paperless.”
“We sort of ran out of room,” McClintic said. But, she added, hard or paper copies are still available.
A Macon, Mo., native, McClintic and husband, Mel, have six grandchildren. She has called the Glenwood-area home for over 30 years.
“I worked here for 12 years as deputy to (former recorder) Roberta Dashner and when she retired I thought I could do it, so I ran,” she said.