Hotel manager runs for county commissioner

Published 4:26 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

David Shoff wants to completely revamp Freeborn County’s budget, property taxes and expenses. As county commissioner for the 3rd District — he is running for the seat against incumbent Jim Nelson, John Severtson and Keith A. Porter Sr. — Shoff said he would apply his accounting background for the benefit of county residents.

“There is no long-term vision toward the budgetary process,” he said.

“Our county budget has been out of whack for several years. It’s time to bring a common sense approach.”

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Making the decision to run for county commissioner was not easy, Shoff, 44, said. He is the manager of two hotels — AmericInn and Holiday Inn Express both in Albert Lea — and got married one year ago.

He lives on Richway Drive in Albert Lea.

But the issues that were important when he ran four years ago for commissioner are just as important now. The most important issue to Shoff is the budget.

He is dismayed, he said, that another candidate advocated more and expanded areas of spending when the county is facing a large budget deficit.

Another candidate said Albert Lea is progressive and Freeborn County is conservative, but Shoff said he doesn’t think raising taxes is progressive.

“I call that reckless,” he said.

Shoff wants to get the candidates talking about the budget.

According to Shoff, Freeborn County is facing a $1 million deficit and the commissioners are probably asking each department to cut their budgets.

The county commissioners have not yet reported the county budget for 2009. The budget process is just beginning at the county level.

Shoff said there are two questions voters should be asking themselves. Residents have seen property taxes soar, he said, but have they seen the benefits? Are voters ready to pay nearly double the taxes in the next five years?

If the answer to either of those questions is yes, he said, then Shoff is not the candidate to vote for.

Shoff said he is ready to tackle the budget, cut it and cut spending. The county should have a two- or three-year budget plan.

According to Shoff, Freeborn County has the highest property tax burden of the surrounding counties and the highest taxes outside the metro area.

Albert Lea isn’t growing because of high property taxes, he said, and the effect taxes have on incoming businesses.

“Property taxes affect everybody who lives in this county,” Shoff said.

The core responsibility of the county commissioner, he said, is to handle the budget, taxes and spending. And Shoff’s record over the past four years, he said, should speak for itself.

His background is in accounting and budgets.

“I feel I would bring a particular strength to the budget, taxes and county spending,” Shoff said.

“We are at a defining moment” at the county, he said, and Shoff is ready to take charge. If someone doesn’t take charge of budgeting and spending, he said, the area won’t be able to expand and will face the same problems as in the past.

Focusing on economic expansion, he said, should primarily be left to the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency. The county, cities and watershed districts should play a supporting role.

“Every agency plays a part in economic growth in the community,” Shoff said.

Political candidates always say they will listen to their constituents, Shoff said, but being an elected official takes more than listening.

“I think it takes understanding what the voter is talking about,” he said.

He is ready to listen, understand and work toward the solution that would be satisfactory to the parties involved, Shoff said.

Shoff married his wife, Laurie Olson Shoff, just about a year ago. She is a nurse at St. John’s Lutheran Home.

Shoff has been at the hotels for the past eight years and a manager for six. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bemidji State University and a master’s degree in business with a concentration in finance from Pepperdine University in California. He is a graduate of Albert Lea High School and has lived in Freeborn County on and off throughout the years.

He serves on the Albert Lea Convention & Visitors Bureau and is involved in a variety of community events.