Meet the candidates 2020: County Supervisor District 1

Lucas Halverson (left) and Jim Ross (right).
Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

GRUNDY COUNTY- The 2020 primary vote is just around the corner, and in Grundy County, there is currently only one contested primary set for June 2. In county supervisor district one, which includes Beaman, Conrad, small portions on the south edge of Grundy Center and the surrounding rural areas, four-term incumbent Republican Jim Ross of rural Eldora is facing off against Lucas Halverson, a 2019 BCLUW High School graduate from Conrad who is currently serving in the Army National Guard.


The Grundy Register reached out to both candidates in order to receive more information about their backgrounds and stances on key issues, and their responses are printed below. The vote will still be held on Tuesday, June 2, but due to the COVID-19 situation, the number of polling places has been reduced from seven to three. All voters in Precincts 1 (Beaman-Conrad area), 2 (rural Grundy Center) and 7 (Grundy Center) will vote at the Grundy Community Center.


Grundy Register: What is your personal, professional and educational background?


Lucas Halverson: Originally from Gladbrook, I moved to Conrad at the age of 5 and have called Grundy County home ever since. I spent my high school career participating in a multitude of extracurricular activities such as wrestling, drama, and show choir. I have been active in the workforce since age 14 working for some of the greatest local businesses in our county including Steckelberg Vet Clinic, Anderson Funeral Home, and most recently at Rainbow International of Grundy County. My love for service led me to join the Army National Guard in 2018, returning home from training in Fort Benning last September. I am a young pro-Trump conservative, and I hold strong on my Christian faith.


Jim Ross: I’m a lifetime Grundy (County) resident and a farmer by trade. I’ve been married 43 years and lived in the same location all my life. I graduated from Grundy Center High School and completed two years of college. I’d like to think I’m fiscally conservative, and yet I have some common sense and compassion.


GR: If you could sum up why you’re running for Grundy County supervisor in a paragraph or less, how would you do it?


LH: Since graduating from BCLUW High School, the thought of public service within my community started moving closer to reality. The outcry of support I received from farmers and other citizens within our district drove me to make it official. It is time that the leadership in our district started listening to the people of Grundy County and making sure the people hold the power, not vice versa. We need clarity, unity, and new voices in our great county and I will provide that.


JR: I like to serve the residents of Grundy County. I like to think I’ve been very responsive to their needs, and I’ve been very frugal with their tax dollars. I enjoy the job. It’s a constant learning experience. I sat in on meetings nine months before I was (first) elected. I was able to study the personalities and kind of learn as an intern, and that really served me well.


GR: In your view, what should the top priorities of the board of supervisors be moving forward?


LH: The top priority of any county official needs to be providing the best possible living and working environment for the citizens they serve. With that being said, the top priorities of the Grundy County Board of Supervisors needs to be ensuring the people we have entrusted to perform these duties have the correct funding and tools to complete their job. We need to make sure the hard earned money of our taxpayers within the district is spent conservatively, and not wastefully. Overall, we need to listen. The input of our citizens is the best tool we could ask for. Unifying our county officials is a big concern because right now they aren’t working together as a team, and the county doesn’t need elected officials who work alone, they need team players. 


JR: To leave the county in as good or better shape than when we started.


GR: Among the most contentious local issues in recent years have been wind farms in the western half of Grundy County, with some of them in district one. Do you believe that the supervisors have made the correct decisions in the past, and how would you handle any future applications?


LH: Wind energy has been an issue I have spoken about regularly with local farmers and leaders in Grundy County and around the state. The general consensus is the same. It comes down to this: Do the negatives outweigh the positives? That is the unanswerable question. Iowa has become known nationwide for our contribution, and rightfully so, of leading the nation in wind turbine energy. When you account for the $20 million average that our farmers and landowners receive for allowing these turbines to be placed on their land can sound like a pretty sweet deal, but that comes at a price. These large, annoying, and unattractive turbines have caused a great negative impact on the once beautiful land we call home. As a Grundy County Supervisor I would work toward ensuring that any turbines put up in Grundy County are subject to strict guidelines at the request of the landowners who would have to deal with them on their property. We need to listen to those who are directly affected by these turbines, which would allow us, as Supervisors, to accurately assess our policies.


JR: I do believe we handled it properly. I’m glad that (the applications) go from the zoning board to the board of supervisors, so that way the elected officials can make that decision rather than a board of adjustment, as some counties are. It doesn’t really matter to me whether you are for or against them. What mattered to me was that it was an opportunity. It was in our zoning ordinance, and we allowed the individual landowners to make that choice themselves. We did not take anything away from anybody.


GR: The supervisors have engaged in several discussions about the paving of a gravel road along the Black Hawk/Grundy County line and bonding to pay for it. Do you support that decision, and do you believe more gravel roads should be paved around the county in the future? In general, which road projects should the county prioritize?


LH: Road projects come back to spending conservatively. It is extremely expensive to properly pave roads, and if you have a well maintained and managed gravel road, it can be exceptionally more cost effective. A good tool to use in this situation, one we have talked about quite a bit, is communication. By talking to the people who live or work on these roads we can have a better idea of what needs to be done based on the amount of activity on that road. If it gets to the point where it is costing more to maintain the gravel to the standards our citizens deserve, Then we look into other options such as paving. By communicating with farmers and folks who live on gravel roads we are able to get an idea of what roads we need to focus on. By using the tools we have at our disposal conservatively we can make their lives easier. 


JR: I think we should prioritize fixing the bridges that are compromised, and by that I mean the embargoed bridges. We should be working on fixing the embargoed bridges, maintaining the roads that we have rather than building new roads and then hoping to maintain those at a later date. I haven’t been and am still not in favor, but I have to accept the decision (of the board) on the Grundy Road thing. I think it was a mistake, but I have to temper my opinions on that because I have to go along with the majority of the board. My feeling is that our priority should be maintaining and fixing what we have rather than buying new roads. 


GR: How do you feel that the county has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and how prepared do you believe the county to be for any future public health crisis?


LH: We have heard it a thousand times by now: we are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 has successfully destroyed our freedom and way of life in the past few months. No matter what your opinion is on how our federal and state governments have handled the situation, the reality is you can never really prepare for something like this. A majority of how our county has been affected, and will continue to be affected, is at the mercy of state regulations under our Governor’s orders. The best we can do is cooperate.


JR: I’d like to think we did very well with it. We closed the courthouse. We have followed all the CDC guidelines and rules, and if something should come up later, we will do the same. I know there are people that think this is a joke, but it’s not.


GR: Are there any issues specific to District 1 that you would like to address as a supervisor or any not previously mentioned in this questionnaire that you believe deserve more attention?


LH: A major issue that needs to be improved upon is clarity and communication between our leaders and the people they serve. It is unrealistic to expect everyone, who would like, to attend board meetings regularly while maintaining their normal full time jobs. Furthermore, reading an article in the newspaper does not do the meetings justice. I want to implement live video broadcast of all board meetings for my constituents to access on the Internet. I have set a goal to attend regularly the city council meetings in Beaman and Conrad to form a better relationship with the city officials. The same goes for all regular school board meetings to better understand the working relationship between school officials and the leaders in district 1.


JR: Our priority should be fixing our roads and rebuilding bridges.


GR: Why are you the most qualified candidate to represent this district?


LH:  I am the most qualified to serve as District 1 Grundy County Supervisor because my agenda is clear. I do not desire to serve for the pay, insurance, or the feeling of power. My soul purpose of running is to unite District 1 and bring a voice to those who have been left blind for years. No hidden agendas, no political schemes, just good old-fashioned hard work and dedication. Dedication to the community I call home and the community I want to raise my family. This is not a job in my eyes, it’s so much more. It’s the livelihood of our neighbors, family, and friends. It’s time to give the conservative voices of my generation a chance because an investment in me is an investment for the future of Grundy County. Thank you for your time, stay safe, and God Bless.


JR: Because of the experience that I have and the working relationship with the other supervisors being on the board the length of time that I’ve been there.


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