Lyon County Board candidates discuss economy, worker shortage | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo by Deb Gau Candidates for Lyon County Council, including David Sturrock, Todd Draper, Charlie Sanow and Tom Endris, took questions from area residents during a forum event Thursday night in Marshall.

MARSHALL — Infrastructure needs, the city’s budget and a widespread worker shortage were all topics discussed Thursday at a panel of candidates for Lyon County Council. Candidates for Commissioner in Districts 1 and 2 introduced themselves and asked questions to the public.

There are three Lyon County commissioner seats up for election on Nov. 8, but only two are contested. Commissioner Charlie Sanow is running for re-election in the 1st Commissioner District against challenger Thomas Andries. Candidates Todd Draper and David Sturrock are running in Commissioner District 2. In Commissioner District 3, Commissioner Paul Graupmann is running unopposed.

Candidates in the two contested races answered questions on a variety of topics, including the lack of workers in the region’s businesses.

Sanov agreed that southwest Minnesota needs workers.

“Our nine-county region currently has an unemployment rate of less than 2 percent.” Sanov said. He said he is committed to the community and has encouraged professionals to return to Lyon County. Area cities are also looking for ways to bring people to the area, he said. “We are ready to work with everything we can. We tried to understand the plans and we did what we could to try to make those things work.”

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Sturrock said the labor shortage is a complex issue experienced across the state.

“You can’t keep (workers) or attract new ones because of housing — both availability and cost — day care and, to some extent, transportation. The county has a role to play in each, but it’s certainly not the primary one. “ he said. Partnering with other groups and leveraging existing funds can help solve these underlying problems, he said.

“The city has some undistributed ARPA funds from the COVID relief package passed by Congress. There may be an opportunity to use those funds.” Sturrock said. He said the county could also access state grants to help develop more broadband.

Andries agreed that child care availability is a key issue in attracting workers to Lyon County. Expanding broadband access in the area could potentially attract more people, he said.

“People are coming back from the cities and now they want to go back to the rural community. So as a board and as a community, we have to do everything we can to make this a situation where they can survive and thrive.” Andries said.

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Draper said having strong communities and good schools helps make Lyon County more attractive to people moving out of the city.

“There’s a shortage there, and with inflation, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But as long as we have a good community for them to come, I think that will help us. “ Draper said.

Candidates for the Commissioner also talked about their priorities and why they were nominated for the district board.

Sanov said one of the reasons he ran for re-election was to help retain some experience in county leadership during a period of changing staff and councils.

“This past year, we lost our auditor and the person who worked under him, we lost our human resources officer, and we lost several other positions in our district. (Commissioner Steve) Ritter is leaving, so is the county attorney. Sanov said. “With the experience that I have, I want to stay there and they want me to stay there and continue to work on keeping things stable.”

Andris said he thinks the county needs it “Think outside the box” for ways to keep property taxes under control, including allowing more part-time workers or working with municipalities to clear snow from roads.

“Inflation is on everyone’s mind right now until it reaches its peak.” Andries said. “When elected to the commission, I promise to control property taxes very strictly. The Commission must maintain the tax line.”

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Draper said he considered running for city commissioner when he heard Steve Ritter was not running for re-election.

“I thought to myself, maybe this is a good time for me to give back to the community” Draper said.

“If elected, one of my goals is to spend time with each department manager and talk about what’s going on within their departments and within the province and get to know what’s going on. Talk to the existing commissioners – they have a lot of knowledge.”

Sturrock said some of his priorities include planning for the county’s future and working to make county government more accessible.

“Provincial government is a relatively mysterious thing.” Sturrock said. “A lot of it is just the structure of the counties and what they do, but there are some things we can fix or help with.”

Sturrock suggested that county council meetings be live streamed or that detailed information about the city’s budget process be made available on the city’s website.



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