Lake County Board, District 4 candidate: Judy OlsonI was encouraged to run as the candidate with county experience, expert at funding streams and mandates, a longtime member of the police commission, and as encouraging of tourism and living-wage jobs. I tell the truth and I speak up.
1 My family has lived in Lake County for six generations. My father was a successful businessman who had the vision to begin the municipal campground and was part of developing the health plan that became a national model. My mother was a renowned watercolor artist who started the Voyageur Art Club. I have retired from a career as a social worker with Lake County.
I hold a degree in psychology and sociology from the College of St. Scholastica with advanced study in music and in art.
I am the former owner of a retail business focused on the visitors to our area, and continue to own a wholesale business with national accounts.
I am proud to say that my children are respected professionals who continue the family tradition of community service.
2 I was encouraged to run as the candidate with county experience, expert at funding streams and mandates, a longtime member of the police commission, and as encouraging of tourism and living-wage jobs. I tell the truth and I speak up.
4 Managing a caseload of more than 60 developmentally disabled adults, which involved managing and being responsible for a funding stream of considerable size. The plan of service and financial structure I designed was used as a model by a statewide council of professionals in my field. I appreciated the respect of my peers, but more, that of the clients on my caseload. The opinion of developmentally disabled individuals is not prettied up or sprinkled with social niceties, and you get honest observations. They tell it like it is, and I got good reviews.
5 At the very top of the list is complete and absolute transparency in each and every aspect of county board action.
Consolidation of health and human services with other counties and entities needs to happen for efficiency of service delivery and to save money.
A solution to the wastewater needs of the residents of Larsmont needs to be found, and needs to happen soon. I will lobby that Lake County either hire or have a contractual arrangement with a grant writer for this purpose.
6 I diplomatically make the observation that you, the citizen/voter, as owner of all the financial resources of Lake County, need to look long, hard and very, very careful look at this ‘initiative’ project and how your money is being spent. A great deal of your money has already been spent. Ask questions. Get clear answers. The board as an entity should be very circumspect about the proposal as presented. Each individual member of the board should be able to assure the citizen that clear and convincing information was and is being used as the basis for this financial decision. I cannot emphasize more strongly the obligation the board has to be completely transparent in this effort.
7 The old saw about county boards being a road and bridge committee has some truth to it. All of our wellbeing in every life area depends on safe and efficient transportation, ranging from delivery of goods to our family members moving safely around to emergency services. Further, our geography and climate present unique challenges for all of our infrastructure.
Financial responsibility for roads is a complex network of township, city, county, state, and federal money. The citizen would need to be very well informed indeed to recognize the financial infrastructure involved in any driving experience. We have more and more traffic from the metro area. The long traffic lines on Sunday afternoons show that our roads are used far out of proportion to our population. The use of grant writing would benefit this area of need as well; a state parks access road grant was recently received, for example, for the extensive work on First Avenue in Two Harbors.
8 At this time, the county is mandated by the state and federal governments as the provider of service, a situation that is unsustainable. Eighty-seven counties all duplicating the same services is simply silly and wasteful. I have lobbied for consolidation of service for years, and served on a number of boards focusing on this premise. My caseload of so many years was inter-agency by its very nature since the needs of the developmentally disabled client are so complex that regional and even statewide cooperation was essential. All social services could be provided using this structure with appropriate adjustments.
A wonderful example of regional consolidation is the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, which the reader may recognize as a provider of transportation and of senior meals, but which does far, far more – I invite the reader to visit this agency or its website to see their remarkable range of services to an entire region. A structure like the AEOA is exactly the solution for efficient and cost effective service provision and could be a blueprint for counties.
9 The board member has the job of providing service to the citizen and to serve as an administrative arm of the state and federal governments. This relationship needs absolutely to be open and transparent in every regard.
The Lake County web site presentation of the ‘initiative’ project might well be an example of unclear information. The confused citizen may well inquire why the enormous amount of county-only money already spent was dedicated to that purpose as opposed to, say, using that money perhaps to assist with the needs of Larsmont residents or such other pragmatic needs as roadway repair.
Web postings, of course, should be updated and always current. Information about any aspect of county processes should be easy to find. All commissioners should encourage email and text message interchange with citizens.
Are people are confused by the processes or surprised by or unaware of what’s happening? Then information isn’t being delivered clearly. Find out what’s needed for clear communication and set it in place. What could be more important?
10 It would certainly be easy enough for the board to find out what the citizen wants, so the board needs to do that. This is a matter addressed in my candidate statement. The board that represents you should meet when the average citizen can attend. Board meetings should be held in the place most accommodating to public attendance and discourse.
There is plenty of room in the ambitious service center in Two Harbors. That facility has the most high-tech abilities available so as to broadcast or stream meetings live or for later viewing. There is even the ability to have interactive video exchanges with the commissioners.
11 That we are surrounded by daily reminders of why we live in this most beautiful of places.
12 I am a voracious reader. I perform in ragtime festivals and have two CDs of ragtime music. I do presentations of Scandinavian music. I have lived in several states. I make the world’s best fudge. I have been the show-and-tell in a classroom in Long Beach, Miss. I had a wonderful childhood. I know more Ole and Lena jokes than anyone else you know. I am an opera fan. I was raised in a home where my father played the harmonica after supper every night.
My retirement job at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is the most fun anyone can have. There’s a YouTube video of me playing the spoons. I am a news junkie. I really am a fan of Judge Judy’s philosophy.