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Political season officially begins

By Staff | May 16, 2010

Milt Steele

For the past six years Milton Steele of Pilot Grove can’t recall missing a Faribault County commissioners meeting.

If he has, you can probably count the number of times on one hand.

Steele is hoping attending board meetings twice a month without pay shows District 2 residents he’s sincere about being their commissioner.

In fact, he’s willing to do the job for free — well, almost.

“Because of the county’s budget constraints, I’ll go to the meetings and not take any pay for one year,” Steele says.

On Tuesday, the self-employed farmer plans to file for the commission seat held by Butch Erichsrud, who is not seeking re-election after serving one four-year term.

Steele says attending meetings on budget, transit, water, Human Services and environmental issues has given him a better understanding ofhow government works.

Steele says, if elected, he’ll push for change that will make things better for the county.

“I’m ready to step in and help right away,” he says. “I’m a person who looks for reasons to do something, instead of looking for reasons not to do something.”

Two areas Steele would like to see reforms take place — salaries of commissioners and the bus transit system.

Four years ago, Steele was one of six candidates vying for the District 2 seat.

He says none of the candidates defeated in the primary election have attended a board meeting since then.

Steele reasons that many people run for commissioner because of the $17,000 annual salary to attend two four-hour meetings a month.

In addition, commissioners are paid mileage, an $80 daily per diem for other meetings they attend and are eligible for medical health insurance.

If the state’s financial problems don’t improve, Steele believes more budget cuts will be necessary.

Steele says the board should study what private businesses are doing to save money. He says government might be able to use some of those practices.

“I see many things and areas where we could cut expenses,” he says. “The board is going to have tougher choices on what to spend money on.”

Steele says commissioners at times have not done what’s best for the county because they’re interested in only representing their district.

While spending cuts will be a priority, Steele says the board must also look for ways to generate revenue.

He advocates the county being involved with economic development and job creation efforts.

Recently, Steele had an opportunity to show his conviction to tourism.

When commissioners last month voted against contributing $500 for membership to a travel group, Steele and four others came up with the money.

“You definitely need someone out there beating the drum for this area to bring businesses, jobs and visitors here,” he says.

Filing for county offices opens May 18 and closes June 1. Persons interested in running also must pay a $50 fee.

District 2 includes Ward 1 and 2 in Blue Earth and the townships of Jo Daviess, Pilot Grove and Verona.