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Supervisors’ candidates ponder economic options

(Shenandoah) – Are wind turbines a catalyst for economic development? Page County’s supervisors’ candidates explored that subject and others in a special forum earlier this week.

On Wednesday night, KMA aired a forum recorded over ZOOM between the four candidates running for two spots on the board in the November 3rd general election. One of the questions asked of the candidates was: if the development of wind turbines hits a road block in Page County, what other economic development source do you recommend? Jacob Holmes, Republican nominee for 1st district supervisor, says the board’s role is not to generate business, but to make an environment that “protects people, and promotes business.”

“We hear a lot of things about how we have to have wind turbines, or this county is done,” said Holmes. “Well, we have a wonderful county with many businesses, and I’ve heard of many new businesses. What attracts business is a good, sound conservative tax system, with levies being as low as they can be, and things running very, very efficiently. Sometimes, we encourage things like TIF (tax increment financing). Sometimes, that is good, sometimes, that’s bad. That can promote winners or losers in our local economy–and I’m not for that.”

Holmes’ opponent, nonaffiliated candidate Tim Johnson, agrees that it’s not county government’s position to create the economy.

“However, I do feel like it is county government’s position to be open and welcoming to an industry that wants to come here,” said Johnson. “And, that’s why I think we do have an opportunity with wind. It’s another export. We export corn, soybeans, meats. Here, we have an opportunity to export wind, have dollars from the outside coming into Page County in the form of utility bills. Economically, it makes a lot of sense.”

Former County Auditor Judy Clark is a write-in candidate for 3rd district supervisor. Clark believes the county should make sure businesses already in place are safe, and stay in the area.

“Lisle’s, NSK-AKS, Browns (Shoe Fit) in Shenandoah, and so many more that we have,” said Clark, “we need to make sure we keep them safe and happy, and not have them leave the county. But, we also need to work as a total county if we’re seeking things for economic development. If we’re seeking large businesses, we need to pull together the two economic development directors, or the three. They need to work together, and work as a county, and try to do the best for the county to get more economic development things here.”

Clark’s opponent, Republican incumbent Chuck Morris, agrees that Clarinda and Shenandoah economic development officials must work together. He also believes the county must be more aggressive in using local option sales and service tax dollars to promote the county on two fronts.

“Promotion of broadband, so that we have broadband everywhere in the county,” said Morris. “We still have some broadband deficits, and until that is solved, we’re not going to attract younger people in droves. And then, also, development of the trail system–we’re on the front end of that. Hopefully, we can be a bigger partner in that. Then, I would like to see the economic development directors market the quality of life for retirees, because we have great health care, and we have safe cities to live in in Page County.”

You can hear KMA’s Page County Supervisors’ Candidates Forum one more time at 9:10 this morning. You can also check out the video of the forum provided here: