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2022 Carlton County Board of Commissioners District 4: Thell faces challenge from Zmyslony

Incumbent Mark Thell will face Sue Zmyslony on Nov. 8.

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CLOQUET — Sue Zmyslony is challenging incumbent Mark Thell in the District 4 Carlton County Board of Commissioners race.

The Cloquet Pine Journal sent questionnaires to each candidate. A response was not received from Thell. Zmyslony's responses are below. They have been edited for style and grammar.

Sue Zmyslony

Age: 65

Family: Married with two children and one grandchild.

Occupation: In 2020, I retired after 40 years in education, with the last 32 years employed by the Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative and the Cloquet School District.

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Community Service Involvement: President of the Carlton County Historical Society, Carlton Area Lions Club, Cloquet Rotary, United Way board member, Hanging Horn Lakes Association board member, Barnum Community Club, member of Salem Lutheran Church in Mahtowa.

Previous experience in elected office: Carlton County Commissioner, Barnum School Board member.

Why are you running for office?

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Sue Zmyslony
Contributed / Sue Zmyslony

My reason for running for office is because we need someone to ask difficult questions regarding spending and finances and be a true representative of District 4. This includes the difficult discussions of the new Carlton County Justice Center and the mental health/drug crisis in our area.

In addition, over the last four years, multiple people have asked me to run again. When residents have a question, we need a commissioner who will answer the phone. Regrettably, that has been a problem.

What are the big challenges you see facing the community? If elected how would you work to address those issues?

1. Keeping property taxes in check without sacrificing services. Request accountability from departments to decrease spending and continue to provide necessary services. Review data to prove a need in expenditure and reorganize services to lower costs. Review or time-study each position for verification and to provide justification of its return on investment.

2. Diversify our economy and job situations. We need to grow jobs in the small, medium and large businesses, including new startups and working with existing businesses. Our ability to develop and promote the business interests of the county and encourage the development of the county’s employment and tax base needs to improve. The first step in this process is to revise and update the Economic Development Authority with new ways to promote business interests in the county and to work hard to encourage businesses to consider our county.

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3. Six years ago, the board began the process of thoroughly investigating all options for the justice system. Currently in our community there is a huge division of support regarding the new justice system, however, it was approved unanimously by the board and now is the time to move forward. With the new Justice Center we need to drive its efficiencies so we can alleviate any increased tax burdens. As a county, let us work hard to develop ways to promote our services and create revenue.

What successes do you hope to build on, if elected?

When elected, I would like to work on improving rural child care initiatives. As a county we need to be more intentional with our support for child care in Carlton County. If we do not have adequate infant and child care slots, we potentially lose the opportunity for people to work in Carlton County. Optimal child care increases our workforce; therefore, we need to support our existing child care facilities, develop methods for staff retention and instruction and assist the existing child care facilities to expand the number of slots available for our children. We are losing people to the neighboring counties due to this struggle. Without major changes, the child care system, our village, will fail fast.

Due to the recent closing of the youth shelter in Cloquet, perhaps some of the community access rooms at the Justice Center may be used as a supervised visitation site or perhaps the county may offer the rooms as a multi-services room for community activities providing intentional use so community has a greater acceptance of the building.

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