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Roper unseats Steier

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

John Roper

Excited and speechless best describe how John Roper felt when first hearing he was elected Faribault County commissioner Tuesday night.

“It’s great. It’s fantastic. It was a nerve-wracking night,” says Roper. “I’ll need time to compose myself.”

Outgoing commissioner Barb Steier says she’s enjoyed her six-and-a-half years on the county board and is appreciative for the support she has received.

“I think it’s unfortunate agriculture has lost a voice on the board,” says Steier, adding that farmland accounts for most of the county tax levy.

Seeking public office for the first time, the Blue Earth Township resident defeated the incumbent Steier, 833 votes to 665.

Barb Steier

In explaining her defeat, Steier says “special interest” groups may have spoiled her bid for another four-year term.

“The infuriating letters to the editor were pretty upsetting to me. I didn’t want to jump into that. I was not going to fight this anymore,” she says.

Steier says Roper took donations from two big special interest groups, and that could make it difficult when he votes on conditional use permits for feedlots.

“At the local level, when you take money from somebody they expect something in return,” she says.

Roper says he’s “a little miffed” by Steier’s comment that accepting or soliciting campaign contribution buys votes.

He says campaigning “the old-fashioned way” — going door to door — is how he won the election. “I rang almost every doorbell in my district. I went out and shook the hands of people,” says Roper.

In campaign financial reports filed Oct. 24, Roper listed 16 people that had given a total of $2,140 in contributions, while Steier reported none.

“In actuality, if I didn’t accept the contributions I wouldn’t have been able to afford running. I don’t think running for commissioner is only for those who have deep pockets. You can’t close out those who don’t have the money,” says Roper.

The newly elected commissioner says he knew beating an incumbent was going to be an uphill battle.

“I’m just grateful to all those who voted for me, supported me and went to bat for me,” says Roper.

Although elected commissioner of District 1, Roper says he will work for the good of all county residents. He says he’ll have an “open door policy” for anyone wishing to discuss an issue.

“I want to be a good listener and let people give their input, so I can make the best decision,” adds Roper.

The future for Steier involves pondering a couple of job offers, a business venture and expansion of the family’s livestock operation.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not going to just sit still,” she says.