Lake County Board, District 4 candidate: Mark BroinI have always taken an active interest in the communities in which I have lived. Everything that happens in my community affects me to one degree or another, whether it is financial, personal safety, health, environmental or general quality of living.
1 I am married and have four children – Chris, Matt, Allie and Lizzie; one grandchild; and four dogs. My wife and best friend, Cyndi, and I have owned our property in Lake County since 1994, and I have been a permanent resident of the county for the past couple of years.
I attended high school in Richfield and participated in football, cross country, and baseball. Upon graduation in 1963, I was accepted into an engineering program at General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich. I later transferred to the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology, where I studied physics and other disciplines. Although I do not have a college degree, I have nearly eight years of college-level study in electrical engineering, physics, mathematics, business law, medicine, and human genomics.
My education was interrupted when I accepted a job offer from Ashland Chemical Company’s Research and Development Laboratories in Minneapolis. When Ashland moved its laboratory operations to Columbus, Ohio, I was recruited by a group of Minneapolis area business people to help turn around a struggling company by the name of International Dairy Queen. I spent the next 32 years of my working career in a variety of management positions at Dairy Queen until my retirement as vice-president at the end of 2003. I played a part in moving the company from near bankruptcy to a successful business, later sold to legendary value investor Warren Buffet.
Cyndi, my children and I love the outdoors, and are active hikers, campers, kayakers, and canoeists.
2 I have always taken an active interest in the communities in which I have lived. Everything that happens in my community affects me to one degree or another, whether it is financial, personal safety, health, environmental or general quality of living. It also affects the same aspects of the lives of my friends, neighbors, fellow county residents, property owners, and visitors.
I believe current and developing economic conditions, the impact of those conditions on the county’s ability to maintain its service levels, and the diminished capacity of the county’s residents, businesses and property owners to fund the county’s operations, require a unique blend of leadership, experience, financial understanding and unwavering creative commitment to keep the county viable and capable of meeting its citizens’ needs.
I am dedicated to addressing county issues whether or not I am elected to office. To be an integral player in the actual process makes the task less strenuous, facts more quickly accessible and the ability to positively influence decisions more probable. It is with these thoughts in mind, I felt seeking the commissioner’s seat was preferable to observing from the sidelines while trying to second-guess board motives and strategies.
3 My father, Lowell Broin, and my mother, Elizabeth Broin have been my inspirations.
My father was a businessman and a combat-hardened Marine Corps officer. He taught me about the value of hard work, financial discipline, loyalty, integrity and tenacity. He expected a lot from me. He was conservative, self-reliant and made it clear his word was his bond. He took care of his family, those he worked with and his customers. He loved his family, and was always there when support was needed. He loved his country, and risked his life for it.
My mother was a caring homemaker, creative, loving, an artist, a poet, and a writer. She educated me by example to be grateful for everything I had, no matter how little or how great. She developed in me a sense of empathy, respect, and concern for the lives and struggles of others. She provided unqualified support during my most difficult times, and those of my brother and sisters.
4 I take great pride in work I have done to improve the quality of life and personal advancement opportunities of all those who have worked for me, and for all those for whom I have worked.
5 Assuring a financially strong, accountable, open and long-term organizational and operating structure, sustainable under current and coming economic challenges, while maintaining high quality, customer-oriented, value-based and appropriately prioritized services.
- With the assistance of the county auditor, department heads and staff, identify and review a simple model of current county government organizational operating structure and finances. Then, compare those results to a model of the developing “services marketplace” and the changing economy the county will have to fit its operations into. Then, restructure the county’s business model, if necessary, to more closely fit the new market and economic model. Execute all of this with an eye to future flexibility and adaptability.
Building improved, effective, open and timely communication channels between the county and employees, its taxpayers, businesses, working families and property owners.
- Hold regular and open meetings with each of the above groups to determine the effectiveness of current county communication methods, and the level of satisfaction with responses to group concerns. Modify the existing methods as deemed appropriate, and continue to solicit feedback on changes to assure satisfactory progress is being made. Regular and easily understood methods for review are a necessity.
Expansion and improvement of working partnerships with cities and townships, business, the state and the federal government in the identification and promotion of appropriate, realistic and sustainable economic development programs. This includes funding and grant awareness, and a clear understanding of any risks involved.
- Proactive commissioner and county management involvement is necessary to achieve any level of success in these areas. But, success is absolutely necessary if our economic base is to grow, and our infrastructure is to remain strong. I will commit to doing my best to build, improve and participate in these relationships, identify worthwhile priorities and seek funding options which meet the test of common sense.
6 I stand unconvinced this particular project is in the best interests of the county, its residents or its businesses. There are already several options marketed by various providers, and a choice of service levels for broadband services available to county residents and businesses. It seems to me the county should be more proactively involved in partnering with those providers to obtain federal funding for improvements and expansion of existing infrastructure, and not risking tens of millions of taxpayer dollars duplicating portions of that existing infrastructure.
The county has expended a substantial amount of taxpayer dollars and spent a lot of time on the initial aspects of this broadband study. It has accrued liabilities of tens of thousands of dollars more, payable to the consultants, if funds are eventually made available. It is time to properly and realistically assess just who will come out ahead with this risky project, and whether the county would be better off pursuing funding for more appropriate public needs.
7 Maintaining our roads is a top priority for a number of reasons. First, our residents, visitors and businesses should not be expected to shoulder the costs of damage to their vehicles caused by improperly maintained roadway surfaces. Repair of vehicle suspension damage can run into the hundreds of dollars, and unprepared damage can create vehicle handling safety hazards. Second, a well-maintained roadway system leaves a favorable impression on tourists and travelers who are important to our economy. Road conditions can be a factor in their decision to return for future visits, or recommend us to others as a desirable destination. Third, a well-maintained roadway system is critical to the health, safety and well-being of our citizens and their property. Law enforcement, ambulance services, and fire prevention equipment need good roads in order to respond quickly to emergencies.
8 I am in favor of any efforts that can be made to streamline the provision of human services so more available money can get to those in need. Human services expenditures in Lake County for 2010 were projected to be around $4.08 million, versus approximately $3.91 million in expected revenues. These expenditures would comprise around 17.7 percent of the county’s total projected budgetary expenditures for 2010.
It makes sense to see if efficiencies can be achieved by exploring cooperative options with Cook and St. Louis counties. All the while, we should do our best to maintain reasonable services to those truly in need.
9 I am convinced open, accessible, and understandable county board communications and public interaction can be improved. If it can’t be done using regular public contact meetings, or with the help of the county’s web site, I would set up a commissioner web site at my own expense to maintain timely and pertinent public information summaries of county issues. I would also be available to meet with local businesses, non-profit organizations, civic groups and any private citizens regarding their concerns. During these particularly challenging times for our country, our state, our local governments and our citizens, communication and interaction should be one of our county board’s primary objectives.
10 The county board should meet at a time and place appropriate for providing an opportunity for the most citizens to attend, participate in and gain an understanding of the county’s business decisions. The board’s purpose is to serve its constituents, and it should accommodate their schedules. In addition, agendas and documentation of the proceedings of the board meetings need more detail, clarity and easier public accessibility.
11 The county’s natural beauty and recreational features, and the desire of its citizenry to enjoy, respect and protect these irreplaceable public assets.
12 I served as president of the Hopkins Dynamo Soccer Club, providing girls and boys recreational and competitive traveling soccer development programs. The club had a membership of nearly 1,100 children. I started playing soccer myself, at the age of 45.
I was actively involved in Hopkins School District 270 fund raising and referendum activities, and was frequently called upon by the school district to sit on a variety of committees. These included the Facilities Task Force, the Staff Career Development Committee for the district’s Eisenhower Elementary School, as well as the District’s Education Foundation task force.
I raised purebred and half-Arabian horses, and bred and showed a record-holding half-Arabian pinto mare.