Candidate Profiles: Carlton County Board of Commissioners District 5 Gary Peterson • Ted Pihlman
Question 1: How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve on the County Board?
Question 2: What do you believe the county’s role should be in economic development?
Question 3: What is the best plan to keep property taxes in check but to continue to provide essential services that county residents want and need?
Gary E. Peterson
I was born, raised and married in Carlton County. I have been a farmer, factory worker, counselor, coach and educator. I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science (concentration in Criminal Justice) from UW-Superior and a Master’s Degree in Secondary School Counseling from Winona State University. I taught students American History, Government and Citizenship. I understand how county government functions.
The county should encourage smart economic development. We need to support existing businesses in Carlton County. We need to build on the strengths of Carlton County: logging and wood industries, farming, small businesses, the service sector, health care, programs for the elderly, state correctional facilities, outdoor recreation and tourism. The county could be involved in attracting new businesses to the area. New businesses should be judged on an individual basis. I would not be in favor of giving special treatment to a new business that would compete directly with an already existing business. Last of all, new economic development should not detract from the quality of life that we have in this great county.
We need to work closely with our state government officials to eliminate unfunded mandates. We need to attract quality businesses to the county to add to the tax base. Also, we need to look for creative ways to reduce county spending and cut out wasteful or ineffective programs. Finally, a well-educated work force can add greatly to the economy of Carlton County.
My years of public service consist of six years as council member on the Moose Lake City Council, 24 years as a board member on the Carlton County Board of Commissioners, 5th District, and the Minnesota National Guard – 1st Sergeant, retired, 47th & 34th Infantry Division (Red Bull).
I have been self-employed in Moose Lake for 45 years, operating Ted’s Auto Body and currently Ted’s Glass.
The Carlton County Economic Development department is self-sustaining through repayments from approximately 45 interest/principle loans. We receive an annual payment of $225K-$250K from the IRRRB Board, through the state of Minnesota Legislature. These monies cannot be used for any other purpose.
The most significant project ever was the Fond-du-Lac Tribal and Community College. The county, in cooperation with other units of government, depleted our Economic Development account balance, of over $400K, to make affordable education possible for all of those interested.
For all economic development information, click on www.co.carlton.mn.us.
Some years ago, Carlton County formed a financial committee, composed of the county board chairman, all county department heads, and elected officials. Collectively, we hammer out a budget we can all live with. Each department voluntarily makes painful, but necessary, cuts to keep the levy at the lowest amount possible.
Over the last 4-5 years the county chose to not refill 15+ positions through attrition. Modern technology has reduced the work load and smart reorganization has allowed the county to do more work with less employees.
The new Human Services building, located in Cloquet, has centralized the Health & Human Services and the Veterans Services within one building, leaving the prior health building for resale, rental or other future county needs.