County chairman seeking re-election

Published 9:34 am Thursday, August 28, 2008

Freeborn County Board of Commissioners Chairman Glen Mathiason has seen the county through ups and downs these last eight years.

He is in his second term, and he is serving his second consecutive year as chairman. He served a third year some time ago. He said he wants to continue the work he has done both locally and statewide.

“I still have some drive left in me to accomplish whatever happens these next four years, and I’d like the opportunity to move forward,” Mathiason, 57, said.

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He is running for re-election in Commissioner District 1 against Neal Gjersvik. The two did not debate Wednesday because there are only two candidates for the district. District 1 covers the cities of Clarks Grove, Hartland, Freeborn, Manchester, Alden, Conger, Twin Lakes and Emmons.

Mathiason said through his time as commissioner he met a lot of people within the county, statewide and outside the state.

“It’s been a learning experience that I appreciate very much,” he said.

Through his involvement in the Association of Minnesota Counties, he said he is working on enlightening state legislators about the strain they put on counties when they cut funding for mandated programs. Mathiason said funding cuts make it difficult when there are levy limits, which aren’t bad but make budgeting difficult.

“We may end up cutting some very useful programs or something that pays long-term dividends,” he said.

Through his experience on the board and as chairman, Mathiason said he has seen what was done and what can be done at the county and now has a better handle on what can be done in the future.

When it comes to the county’s involvement with economic development, Mathiason suggests a more supportive role. He said he isn’t sure how involved the county can and should be, especially with the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency doing its job. But the county can help support development through infrastructure, tax abatements or tax increment financing.

“That’s the things that we can help with,” he said.

Mathiason said he ran for commissioner eight years ago because he was encouraged by members of the community that he respects, which was part of the case again this year.

“That makes it easier for me to make that call when someone does something like that,” he said.

Plus, he enjoys giving back to the community.

“I felt that maybe I had something to offer with my time and efforts at the county level,” Mathiason said.

He said he thinks he gets along with people well and tries to keep an open mind on issues, no matter what they are.

Before he came to the county, he sat on the board of the Alden energy cooperative for 21 years and was an original member of the Exol board. Both experiences, he said, lent him knowledge of serving on a board.

Mathiason said he tries to be active in the community. He has farmed almost all his life on the same family farm he grew up on. He currently has an operation with his brother.

He lived in Freeborn County his entire life minus the two years he attended what is now Kaplan University. Mathiason completed an accounting program there, but was also No. 12 on the draft so he couldn’t get a job, he said. When he failed his draft physical, his father offered him a job on the farm.

Mathiason and his wife, Jill, have been married for 37 years. The couple have a daughter, Shannan, who is married with twins Bryn and Noah.