Editorial: Belshan has a lesson to learn

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 30, 2006

Dan Belshan does a good job of communicating with his constituents, and he knows the issues facing Freeborn County.

That&8217;s why we would be real surprised if Belshan didn&8217;t win re-election to Freeborn County Commissioner District 2.

His opponent, Curt Gniffke, agrees with Belshan on many issues &8212; not all, mind you, but many.

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Gniffke mainly differs from Belshan in that he calls for better compatibility with other county commissioners. He&8217;s not talking about voting in lockstep either. He’s talking about respect.

That&8217;s a good point to bring up.

Incidentally, Belshan, when he met with the Editorial Board, spoke of how he would like the county commissioners to display the same sort of respect for each other shown by Albert Lea City Council members. They didn&8217;t always agree, but they respected each other and showed professional courtesy.

Belshan apparently isn&8217;t watching the City Council meetings close enough.

At the July 20 County Board meeting, frequent attendee Brian Bashans spoke during public comments. He brought up the issue of County Administrator Ron Gabrielsen&8217;s dispute with the state of Wisconsin over income taxes.

Later, Belshan made his regular comments. When asked if there was anything else, he said: &8220;The one other item that was brought up earlier, that (pause) let&8217;s see here, excuse me. I would wonder, wondered if Mr. Gabrielsen would like to dispute any of the information that was brought up during the &8212;&8221;

That sent the County Board into a heated argument.

At the City Council, local antagonist Roger Bok gets up to blast City Manager Victoria Simonsen at each meeting. You don&8217;t see any councilors fanning the flames by adding: &8220;Well, Victoria, how about it?&8221;

That&8217;s because they respect each other.

Belshan knows how to watch a bottom line. He&8217;s intelligent and, when he wants to be, is very courteous. And, boy, is he a hard worker. He cares about open government and favors healthy debate.

The comments he made July 20 were not in the interest of healthy debate. What he did was legitimize Bashans, a man whose business card displays a bulldog&8217;s backside.

We will endorse Belshan for Commissioner District 4, but with this advice: Learn from your mistakes. If you want a more respectful County Board, you have to be part of the solution.

Otherwise &8212; with Gniffke and Belshan so close on other issues &8212; Belshan gives no reason for voters to vote him out of office. Our endorsement goes to Belshan.