by Paul Rignell
Though Sherburne County’s adjusted district lines (based on 2010 census figures) may not be settled for another month, two residents from the current District 5 have said they will file for the office of county commissioner when filing opens May 22.
Wendy Kowalski, who is serving the last year of a second four-year term on the Zimmerman City Council, hopes to continue representing the people of Zimmerman in addition to other county residents with election to the county board next fall.
Her district’s incumbent, Rachel Leonard, of Livonia Township, told the Star News this week that she has every intention of filing for re-election to what would be a fourth four-year term on the county board. “I am a healthy senior, my brain works well, and I have lots of projects that I want to finish,” Leonard said.
The incumbent commissioner said that she considers herself a watchdog. Among her concerns, she says, she wants to make sure the county continues to use its utility enterprise fund correctly and that the county does not compete with private business for development.
Leonard said that she is also willing to listen to individuals. “If a citizen needs my help to fight an issue, (one that) just seems unfair, I’ll go in there and help them. That doesn’t mean we always win,” she said.
Kowalski said she has considered herself to be the watchdog of the Zimmerman council, and that she would bring her responsibility to the county board.
She addressed the board at an annual tax hearing last Dec. 12, challenging the board’s right as a regional rail authority to issue a special levy for funding Northstar commuter rail.
She brought a lawsuit to the county board at its first meeting of 2012, on Jan. 3. She paid a filing fee of $420 for a suit in which she is seeking less than half of that in return, or $207.66, the amount included on her individual yearly tax statement for the rail levy.
Kowalski said that she has never wanted Zimmerman or the county to make decisions on taxes or other issues affecting residents just to fall in line with how other authorities handle matters. “Just because other cities are doing it, doesn’t make it right,” she said in regard to some of her opposition in Zimmerman.
“I always like to look at everything,” Kowalski said of her watchdog approach. “I want to make sure we get everything right.
“The only job, really, of a public official is to uphold their oath.”
The election filing period runs May 22 to June 5 for the board seat held by Leonard, one of three board seats that will be up for election Nov. 6. If Kowalski and Leonard both hold to their pledges to run for office and should be joined in their race by even one additional candidate, a primary to narrow the field to two names for November’s ballot would be held Aug. 14.