Dirkx, Merten face off in BV County District 3
Campaign signs are springing up, and in only a few weeks, one of the more competitive battles for Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors seats will culminate with election day.
The Pilot-Tribune pre-election series begins today with District 3, the only supervisors race without an independent running. Jim Gustafson is stepping down from the board after many years, with Richard Dirkx and Paul Merten competing to join the board.
Merten beat out Terry Murray in the only Democratic primary race. Dirkx defeated fellow Republicans Sandy Johnson and Jerry Gosch.
Merten said his strategy has been to talk to
as many people as possible face-to-face about
issues that have been facing the board.
"It really depends on where they live what issues they feel are important," Merten explained. "The rural areas may have issues about livestock, where as in the city they have concerns with the jail and AWAYSIS."
Merten has also been keeping up on agendas and the county business but hasn't been able to attended supervisor meetings lately.
"I've been talking with Jim Gustafson about the issues and keeping up on the issues." Merten said.
Merten said that having veterans Lorna Burnside and Herb Crampton on the board should help the three new members to be elected.
"Obviously with their experience they can help with the swing of three new members," Merten said. "But I think that the new members will be able to provide a new look and offer different solutions than before. Mixing the new blood with the experience will be a good thing."
Merten also wants to have everyone get out and vote, on a ballot that also includes a referendum on casino gambling in the county.
"There are some major issues on this election's ballot and people need to get and have a say in what will happen," Merten said.
Dirkx's campaign has taken in different social functions and fundraisers around the county. He decided to run after he was asked shortly after leaving the USDA board in the area.
"There have been a lot of general issues covered," Dirkx said about talking to different groups. "It's stuff that I' ve known because of projects I've been a part of."
One thing that Dirkx would like to do is to end an urban-rural split in Buena Vista County.
"A problem I see is that there is Storm Lake and then the rest of the county - and I would like it to all come together," Dirkx explained. "There will never be perfect harmony because there are some people with negative attitudes about it but I think if the majority can work together a lot of things will come into place."
Dirkx said continued growth and keeping local business strong will be a key to the future.
Running for local office, Dirkx feels that he understands the county business and issues people have in the county.
"Working on the USDA board and local school boards I know a lot of people in the border areas of the county and some of the cities," Dirkx said. He has also attended Supervisors' meetings when he isn't working on his farm.
Dirkx also sees the Crampton and Burnside as a bonus to the new coming members.
"Lorna and Herb have been on the board for years and I think will serve as good mentors," Dirkx said. "But I think having some new people coming in is a good thing as well."
Dirkx finds it hard to run against Paul Merten, whom he has worked with on numerous projects.
"It's the hard thing about running for local office is that sometimes you run against friends," Dirkx explained. "I'm not going to run half-heartily, I'm running to win, but I wish there could be two spots for both Paul and I."
Dirkx feels that the competition will be good for the supervisor race and sees it as a tight one that will involve a lot of issues.
"A lot of people know were I stand, but going into the board a person has to have an open mind," Dirkx said. "I see myself as an open minded conservative who will be honest."