Second candidate files for county commissioner seat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By Kari Lucin, staff writer

Tuesday was the last day citizens could file for elected office, but Curt Gniffke filed for the District 2 Freeborn County commissioner seat last week.

Gniffke, 61, farms in Moscow Township in Freeborn County, though he has an Albert Lea phone number and an Austin address. He has been divorced for seven years and has three children and six grandchildren.

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Gniffke is running against incumbent Commissioner Dan Belshan.

&8220;I just think that maybe new personalities might make it go a little easier,&8221; Gniffke said. &8220;I don’t have any axe to grind or any adverse feelings toward anyone or anything. I respect Mr. Belshan.&8221;

Gniffke served on the Albert Lea School Board from 1973 to about 1980 as declining enrollment forced the district to shut down buildings in Clarks Grove, Hollandale and Hayward. Board members became extremely unpopular after the changes.

The declining population in rural areas is one of Gniffke’s concerns, along with representing farmers in environmental issues. He also believes the real estate taxes in Freeborn County are high enough and that the county board needs to be fiscally responsible.

&8220;I’m not very different from Belshan in a lot of respects,&8221; Gniffke said. &8220;You develop positions with time and sometimes those positions are the opposite of someone else’s, and neither one wants to budge. Sometimes a change is a rest.&8221;