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Redwood County commissioner First District candidates: Rick Wakefield

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette
Redwood Falls Gazette

Why are you running for county commissioner?

Working within Redwood County as a Redwood County deputy sheriff for the past 32 years allowed a unique “front line” view of issues that will arise in all government agencies. I was able to view most of the issues from a third party perspective and observed where improvements could and should be made. Old ideas of “that’s the way it’s always been done” doesn’t always work in every situation. I realized I could sit back and complain about my governing body, or I could chose to try to do something about it, and try to make a positive difference.

From your perspective, what is the role of a county commissioner?

To act as the voice of the citizens in district one. To fairly weigh the benefits of services provided to the citizens of Redwood County against the available resources required to provide those services. To make informed decisions when hearing issues effecting Redwood County and its citizens. To be fiscally responsible when allocating Redwood County citizens’ tax dollars. To promote Redwood County and attempt to expand business and job opportunities. To work with the local government units within Redwood County as a whole, as well as within district one itself.

Do you support the current county courthouse project?

The courthouse is at a point where replacement is required. The Redwood County Courthouse project is currently being addressed, and several plans have been proposed and considered over the past several years. It’s important to not only put up a structure that will meet the needs for today, but to plan for the future and have a structure that is going to be expandable to meet the changing needs of today and tomorrow’s society over the next 10-20 years.

How as a county commissioner would you help to promote economic development?

The county could look into offering limited tax incentives for businesses looking to start up, relocate, or expand within Redwood County. The county could also look into any state or federal programs that may be available.

How would you as a commissioner work to improve broadband access to underserved and unserved areas of the county?

Reach out to the area broadband providers and attempt to set up a meeting with them to educate myself and the board on what options would be available specifically for the various areas within Redwood County.

What do you think is Redwood county's greatest asset? How would you as a commissioner best utilize that asset?

The employees within Redwood County are its greatest asset. Experienced employees are the quickest most effective way to complete the necessary day-to-day tasks required within Redwood County. I would speak directly with our employees. They are smart, front line workers who are full of time and money saving ideas. I’ve had the chance to speak with several of the county highway crew who have expressed some extremely good ideas about infrastructure maintenance schedules, updates and upkeep that would keep Redwood County’s infrastructure current and be cost effective.

How would you work to collaborate with other units of government at the local, state and federal level?

As a deputy sheriff for 32 years with Redwood County, I’ve had the opportunity on multiple occasions to work directly with various state and federal law enforcement units, and various State and Federal Agencies. I have written several successful state and federal grants during my law enforcement carrier. I bring with me experience and a unique understanding of working with other agencies.

Other than the above topics, what do you think is the county's most important issue that needs to be address. How would you work to resolve it?

I believe the county’s infrastructure of roads and bridges are an important component for Redwood County. I will continue to listen to, and work with, our county employees to ensure the continued highest level of service possible is provided. Improvements and/or expansions to the county park could be explored to further promote tourism into Redwood County areas and communities.

Please provide a brief bio of yourself.

I grew up on a farm by Amiret a few miles from the Redwood County border. There I met my wife of 40 years, Lori. We have two daughters, two sons-in-law and two grandsons. In 1985 I obtained an AA-Degree in law enforcement. I worked as a police officer in Renville for a year. In 1988 I accepted a position as deputy sheriff with the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office, and my family and I moved to Walnut Grove. We’ve lived there, and I’ve worked as a deputy sheriff for the past 32 years. I retired from the sheriff’s office Aug. 1, 2020.