Hentges, Toavs Seek Commissioner Position
The general election will feature a race between Roosevelt County commissioner candidates Ken Hentges and Robert Toavs.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. The following are responses by the candidates to answers asked by this newspaper.
What experience do you have that you feel would benefit you if you are elected commissioner?
Hentges: I have been a resident of this area most of my life with the exception of the estimated four or five years in Cascade County. I’ve worked various jobs in this county. I started my own business 30-plus years ago and am fully aware of most issues that are at hand. I have no plans whatsoever to relocate. This is my home!
Toavs: As a farmer/rancher and business owner I know how to budget and how to be fiscally responsible, how to decipher between what is needed and what is wanted. Through my businesses I deal with thousands of people a year, and as a commissioner I feel that you must be able to interact with people, as well as be a problem solver, and I feel I have all the qualities to make a great commissioner. I have also served on the board of a multi-million dollar co-op and many years as chairman of the board which has given me valuable experience.
Do you feel that the current commissioners are representing all parts of Roosevelt County well?
Toavs: I feel that they have provided the county to the best of their ability the services that the county needs, but I also feel that the commissioners have failed the taxpayers by improper policy and procedure and not being transparent about some of the things that have been done. As a commissioner, part of the job is listening to the taxpayers and citizens and answering for the actions you have made (after all they are the ones that are paying the wages). Some decisions are not easy to make, but you have to be confident that the right ones are made and you must own those decisions.
Hentges: Yes, I do believe our current commissioners are doing a very good job as far as representation as they are dealing with a very brood spectrum, and I myself have attended commissioner meetings to experience their duties as far as business at hand.
What do you feel commissioners should consider in order to improve economic development efforts?
Hentges: In discussing economic needs of our county with our local economic development center, it is clear we need to work with cities and towns to address blight clean-up, to retain residents, increase property values and tax revenue and attract new residents and businesses. We could also work closer with the local telecommunications companies to improve cellular and broadband services to our citizens.
Toavs: The first thing to look at is the why, why are things trending downward, then come up with the solution to stop the downward trending and build up from there.
How many hours a week do you feel that elected officials should work in Roosevelt County?
Toavs: I don’t feel that you can lock in a set number of hours per week for the elected officials. I feel that the elected officials are on call if circumstance arise that may require their attention even after the office has closed. With technology even if the elected official isn’t in the office, it doesn’t mean that they are not working, they may be responding to emails or tending to phone calls etc., also as an elected official you do not accumulate sick leave or vacation time but with the job you are on-call 365 days a year.
Hentges: I will be available 24/7 as needed and will listen to everyone’s concerns. It will definitely not be a side job. I will attend all meetings as required. I will be a full-time commissioner!
What do you view as the biggest challenges facing the county?
Hentges: Many challenges, as far as budgeting county issues, road maintenance, right of way and our declining tax base and we must also work closely with the Fort Peck Tribes and their entities.
Toavs: Keeping businesses and people in the county and keeping the doors of the businesses open, (that includes farms and ranches). For every business that closes, that is a family that might move out of the area and that is taxpayers that leave. Therefore taxes have to go up in order to provide the services that the county needs. If we don’t get a handle on the crime and drugs in the county, more people will leave which creates a bigger tax burden on the ones that remain.
Are you optimistic about the future of Roosevelt County?
Toavs: Yes, we all need to be optimistic and positive about the county’s future to secure the future for the county’s younger generation.
Hentges: I’m very optimistic, hopeful and confident about our future with our homes, businesses, farmers, ranchers and employment in our great county!