Democratic BOC candidates answer Bulletin questions

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1. Why are you running for Polk County Board of Commissioners?
Emily Bartlett
I am running for Polk County Commissioner to assure that the needs of families and retirees who are struggling in this changing economy are addressed.
Ernie Giannini
I believe as John Dewey in 1897 said, “Education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform” and that in small easy ways we can change the fortunes of our children to result in them becoming better informed dedicated and involved adults.
I believe that all citizens should expect good representation from the elected officials, have easy access to those officials and expect them to create a cooperative trustworthy government. I believe that senior citizens have the right to a life of dignity and comfort without daily worry.

2. What is your overall vision for Polk County?
Emily Bartlett
My vision for the county is to build on the work of past boards of commissioners to improve the quality of life for all citizens, focusing on underserved areas of the county with water and sewer treatment, job training opportunities, recreational facilities, quality daycare, transportation and access to healthcare.
Ernie Giannini
My overall vision for Polk County is to help create a long range prioritized plan that includes:
1. A high quality school system
2. A long-range controlled and planned growth program
3. An efficient revenue producing water system
4. A program to support and enhance local agriculture
6. A senior citizen plan that includes respite service to caregivers, home and community based services and senior center programs that promote senior independence and health and  finally
7. A safe environment for all citizens

3. What do you think the county’s financial priorities should be?
Emily Bartlett
I think the county’s financial priorities should be to focus on sustainable projects that meet the needs of the people with little or no financial impact on taxpayers, while retiring debt where possible.
Ernie Giannini
Maintain an adequate fund balance. Be prudent in our fiduciary responsibilities. Creating a controlled residential and business growth that is necessary, produces jobs and creates revenue.  Planning a water system that is designed and built to fulfill the needs of revenue producing customers, residential and businesses and fulfills the needs of realistic future customers.

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4. On your list of priorities, where is Polk County’s having its own water system and how soon should all areas of the county be connected?
Emily Bartlett
Polk County has experienced drought in four out of the last five years. Three years ago my husband and I had to spend almost $12,000 to replace a dry well. If we had been able to access public water, we most certainly would have.
Water treatment and distribution are expensive propositions but fall into the category of proactive, responsible governing.
The three townships are supporting water distribution and sewage treatment through a finite group of customers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that eventually, as infrastructure ages and federal and state regulations continue to be placed on counties at the expense of taxpayers, the inevitable outcome will be tax increases in two out of the three townships. If the burden of keeping those aging systems were to be expanded over a wider client base, then perhaps water rates might remain the same or experience smaller increases.
I think it is time to take the politics out of this vital commodity and look towards a water authority, made up of representatives of each township and the larger county.
As adjacent counties and in the case of Polk County, an adjacent state, increase in population, a water authority would allow Polk County to leverage state assistance in keeping our water within our county, insuring that future generations have adequate access and resources.
Ernie Giannini
Water is a priority as it allows proper controlled growth which generates enough revenue to maintain and pays for itself. Growth and proper planning of future growth will initiate the need for water to many areas in the county.

5. What direction do you feel the county should be moving in terms of zoning? Do you think land use regulations should be more strict than they currently are or more lenient. Please explain.
Emily Bartlett
Zoning, land use, development ordinances – all names for regulations that each of us thinks should apply only to the other guy. Someone who insists they don’t want zoning will be the first to cry foul when a chainsaw factory (insert the nightmare of your choice here) moves in next door.
It is a painful process of directing growth, protecting property values, maintaining quality of life and the esthetics of a community while at the same time creating a means by which citizens can request variances to the rules. It can only work if all citizens are involved in the process.
I am in favor of regulation that does not discriminate against business, developers, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and generational family holdings. The process of seeking a variance is dependent on the subjective opinions of a committee that must represent all citizens.
Furthermore, the current committee that is establishing and recommending those same ordinances contains two members of the BOC, and unless both parties are represented, segments of the public could and should feel as if they have had little input into the process. In order for everyone to embrace this self-governance, it must be reasonable and all must be involved.
Ernie Giannini
At this time the zoning in Polk County is consistent and comprehensive and should be protected.  Those areas that are not zoned are in agreement with the citizens of those locations and should be only reviewed occasionally to ascertain if any changes would be helpful or beneficial to those citizens and agreement should be discussed as needed.
The U.S. 74 corridor should be protected to prevent overbuilding.