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NDN Election Central Q&A: Democrat Pam Olson

Name: Pamela Olson

City: Newton Township

Office sought: Jasper County Supervisor

Occupation: Civil engineering technician, Jasper County Engineers Office

Education: Associate of Applied Science Degree in Civil Engineering

Elected offices held: First time running for an elected office

1. Reintroduce yourself to Jasper County voters and explain why you want to be on the board of supervisors.

After earning an AAS in Civil Engineering, I went to work full time for the Jasper County Engineers Office as a Civil Engineering Technician 39 years ago. Over the years, my duties have included; developing a project from surveying to design, letting into construction inspection; and project audit. (I) Help(ed) to develop the five-year construction program, putting together the budget to the annual report and dealing with citizens’ issues. 

I was part of the membership that originally voted in the PPME Union and have also served as a union steward. Throughout my time in Jasper County, I have been involved in several different activities which have developed a skill set conducive to be a candidate for Jasper County Supervisor. Some of the activities I participated in were the Maytag-sponsored Junior Achievement Team; the Newton branch of the American Business Women’s Association; a certified instructor with the Red Cross; and working with SHARE Iowa in the encouragement for volunteer work in our community.

2. What do you believe are the two most important issues Jasper County is dealing with presently? Do you feel current elected leadership is making a conscious effort to address these matters?

The biggest issue I see is income verse the expenditures in the years to come and being able to hold down taxes. Part of this would be loss of income due to the possible discontinuation of the state backfill payments from the Iowa Legislature. (It's) also part(ly) due to the rising cost of utilities, materials, equipment and labor. I believe the board, with the help of the auditors office, has been preparing for the backfill loss during the budget process the last couple of years. Today, there is also close to $500,000 coming in due to the sheriff’s office housing inmates for Warren County which will come to an end in the next couple of years. I believe we need to widen our tax base through Economic Development, working with JEDCO to get new industry into the county.

The second issue is an ongoing issue for the board, and that is the condition of the Annex building and the cost of housing some offices in rented facilities. There are still employees working in the basement of the Annex building because the air quality reports did not show that the air is harmful. Therefore, I do not see why we are paying rent on a building and nothing is being done to ready the Annex for those employees to return.

3. Do you feel the communication between the supervisors and taxpayers is adequate regarding the future of the Jasper County Annex Building and the currently unresponsive courthouse clock tower? Why or why not?

I feel it is fiscally irresponsible to be paying rent and utilities on a building longer than needed to get the employees back in to the Annex. I don’t believe the board of supervisors were trying to hide anything from the public. It was an item on the agenda every week for quite some time. I believe the issue is they couldn’t come to an agreement of what should be done.

I, like so many others, were waiting to see the courthouse clock tower restored to its old glory. From the time that the grant was applied for, then receiving the grant, to approval by the board of the lowest quote received, next working with the Historical Society to find an approved glass replacement for the cracked glass, finally having it rebuilt and running but only for a few days. There was a lot of work that went into getting this grant and it was a win for Jasper County,. The historical society must of thought this was a great project because these grants are not easy to receive/ There are usually 100-plus applicants. I talked with the building and grounds department head about the clock tower condition and was told that they are in litigation at this time and no further information is available until that process is complete.

4. How proactive should the board of supervisors be on the possible disappearance of state property tax backfill payments from the Iowa Legislature?

As I stated above, I believe economic development is the answer to being proactive in preparing for the possible loss of state property backfill payments.

5. Do you believe the supervisors should be more transparent regarding board mistakes and errors, even if it may reflect badly on the county? Do the taxpayers have a right to know?

The board of supervisors is made up of citizens from the County and people are not perfect and can make mistakes. I believe if and when a mistake is made, it is best to admit to it and move on to a solution. I respect someone who can admit to an error and work to a solution where as someone who lies or tries to cover up an error loses my respect and trust.

6. What is a priority you hope to bring more attention to during your term as supervisor?

7. How do you decide whether a project is worth taxpayer investment? What factors play into your final decision?

When I look at a project there are many things I would consider: Is it necessary? Will its benefits outweigh the cost for most of Jasper County citizens? Are there safety factors to consider? Are there professional evaluations needed? What do the citizens think? — to name a few. In the end, the supervisors should have an open meeting present to the public their findings and make the final vote.

8. How would you handle discourse with fellow supervisors who may have conflicting ideas?

If elected, I plan to work together with my fellow supervisors to avoid discourse. We are all adults that may have different ideas on a subject, but we should be able to respect each other’s opinions and work through an issue to an end in the best interest of the majority of the county citizens. 

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