My Point of View: Regionally and locally, we’re all ready for the year 2021

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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My Point of View by Robert Hoffman

Albert Lea and Freeborn County are doing a great job. We are a county full of beautiful communities and communities full of outstanding leadership. Like celebrating the new year, it is empowering to carry over successes and exciting to look forward to some new beginnings. 

Robert Hoffman

It is not said enough, but should almost be engraved in stone, a special thank you to Sheriff Kurt Freitag. Sheriff Freitag is our most senior leader of our county, and under his leadership only the best is good enough for Freeborn County. We are very thankful for Sheriff Freitag’s leadership into the new year and are blessed to have him serving.

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New leaders in the county have emerged and start their service soon. Three new county commissioners, Brad Edwin, John Forman and Ted Herman, will serve with the two county commissioners not up for reelection. This team will offer a new dynamic to our county’s leadership that will be beneficial to all of Freeborn County.

Re-elected Congressman Jim Hagedorn earned another term as our U.S. representative to southern Minnesota in Washington, D.C. Jim is making cancer an opponent that won’t run against him again as well. We wish him all our best and thank him for all his service. Congressman Hagedorn was the clear choice and decisive winner in his reelection and his amazing immediacy with Albert Lea and Freeborn County helped earn him the well-deserved re-election.

Also reelected was our state representative serving in St. Paul and simply put, a favorite local hometown hero, Peggy Bennett. Representative Bennett starts her next term in leadership roles she has earned at the state level because of the trust she has earned by the entire state House of Representatives.

Brand new state Rep. Patty Mueller (that serves mainly Mower County but does serve some of southeastern Freeborn County as well) and our new state Sen. Gene Dornink are welcomed new additions to the state House and state Senate. Both Patty and Gene have proven, through their winning campaigns, that they are the change we wish to see representing southern Minnesota in the House and Senate. We are in good hands and led by God’s hands with these two new leaders.

The Albert Lea City Council did not see changes to the councilmen serving, and they are continued to be led by Mayor Vern Rasmussen. Vern’s heart has been with Albert Lea since serving on the City Council before being elected and reelected as our mayor. However, just before the new year Albert Lea was blessed to have a new city manager begin his service in our community. City Manager Ian Rigg’s new leadership and the continued veteran leadership of the City Council will guide our beautiful community and together help lead southern Minnesota through all that lies ahead. We can be an example of what a well led small community can do.

No community can thrive without care given to its students, schools and especially teachers being taken care of. A lot has been learned in many new ways in our schools lately. Applying new protocols and formats to education is much like starting a new year and carrying over what has been successful while also trying out new ideas. In the same light, the Albert Lea school board elections did exactly that.

Neal Skaar a longtime, former teacher and very respected incumbent school board member was re-elected to the school board and Bruce Olson, a retired school district employee is one of the new school board members. Interestingly in what may be the first time ever, anywhere, in the history-of-ever, small business owner and local property investor Angie Hoffman received the most votes out of any nonincumbent candidate from a very strong pool of seven great candidates vying for the three open school board positions. Angie Hoffman became well known for being the candidate who was “homeschooled” and “doesn’t have kids.” Angie is an exciting and nontraditional addition to an important school board team in a time of unprecedented decisions being made.

Albert Lea and Freeborn County have also had new business leaders emerge. It is now a new year when there is no longer time to just take a knee anymore. It is time to stand up for all small businesses, owners and especially their employees. Albert Lea’s Lisa and Vern Hanson, owners of the Interchange coffee shop and Freeborn County’s Bruce and Jennie Nielsen, owners of the Pour House Bar & Grill, have helped keep the open-sign on for southern Minnesota small businesses. They led an amazing march on Sunday in Albert Lea and showed that standing up for businesses who choose to be open is simply the right thing to do. God bless these small business owners, their employees and all like them reaching for the on-switch to their open-signs.

Albert Lea and Freeborn County, we are doing a great job! Happy new year. 

Robert Hoffman is the vice chairman of the Freeborn County GOP Party.