May 28, 2014

Don Kanne and Dean Schettler both want to fill Dan Nieland's Carroll County supervisor seat.

But that's not all they have in common - both also say they don't have much of an agenda beyond working well for the county and with the other supervisors.

Kanne and Schettler, both Democrats who have served on boards and committees in the past but have not held office, are running against each other in the primary election June 3. Each hopes to fill the 2nd District supervisor seat left vacant by Nieland, who is stepping down after two terms. The district stretches across the northern part of Carroll County and includes Breda, Maple River, Lanesboro and Lidderdale.

Gene Meiners, the board's chairman, said a good supervisor needs to listen to the residents of Carroll County, spend money responsibly and try to act in the interest of the entire county rather than individual people - and he thinks running with the goal of simply being a good supervisor is enough.

"Today, we have a board that does work well together," he said. "That's one of the desires I hope to see (in the new supervisor). We don't always necessaryily have to agree. In the past boards I've worked with, when we had a disagreement, it stayed in the boardroom, and we moved on to the next project."

Kanne, who owns Kanne Realty & Associates in Carroll and lives northwest of the city, has been in the area his entire life. He grew up on a farm north of Lidderdale and graduated from Kuemper Catholic High School in 1966. He earned an associate's degree from what is today Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. He and his wife, Lonnie, a native of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, near South St. Paul, have five grown children in Carroll - Nick Kanne, Mackenzie Kral, Kipp Kanne, Piper Atkinson and Kacie Kanne.

Kanne said he hopes to be as good a supervisor as Nieland was.

"I have no agenda," Kanne said. "I think the supervisors work hard, and major changes probably aren't going to happen."

And Kanne is confident in his competition as well, saying he believes Schettler would also make a good supervisor.

As for whether he's the correct person for the job: "I never said I was. You can put that down."

Schettler graduated from St. Bernard Catholic High School in Breda in 1970 and then earned a business degree from Ellsworth Community College. He has worked at General Electric and Pella Corp. He worked his farm, a grain-and-livestock operation, for 21 years, and ran Sheppy's Shortstop in Breda for more than 10 years before selling it last year. He now works as a motor coach driver for Windstar Lines in Carroll. The Schettlers have three grown children: Jonathan, Tyler and Emily, a former newsroom intern with The Daily Times Herald.

Schettler says he brings an important perspective to the supervisors' table - his wife, Joan Schettler, the former Carroll County auditor, worked with the board for years as auditor; before that, she worked as deputy auditor and deputy commissioner of elections.

"I have some good experience right across the dinner table with me," he said. "If there is a question that comes up, there's no better place for me to go for that history."

Schettler also said he doesn't have specific goals beyond furthering what the board has already done.

"I have nothing against what's happening in Carroll County," he said. "As far as being on the board, I don't want to change things; I want to be a member to continue the good things the county has been doing."

Schettler said he doesn't know Kanne well but thinks his own background and family connections would serve him on the board.

"I would have to say I feel I'm a better candidate," Schettler said.

Nieland, a farmer who lives outside of Breda, served two terms as a supervisor and said that as he approaches semi-retirement, eight years on the board is enough.

"I made the comment when I ran for office that I do believe in term limits," he said. "I believe that from the local level to the federal government, there should be term limits in office. I said that, so I'm sticking to what I said."

Nieland said he is proud of the supervisors' work with a tight budget and its ability to lower property taxes and levy rates for taxpayers while still maintaining the county's services.

"I'm impressed with the way the board works as a team," he said. "We sometimes agree to disagree, but we get things done. We never had issues that dragged on for more than a week or two. We worked very well as a team, and I'm proud of that."

His replacement needs to avoid joining the board with a personal agenda, to have an open mind - and "to have big ears and be willing to listen," Nieland said.

"Either one, Don or Dean, will do a great job," he said. "They've been around the county for a long time. They know as many people, if not more, as I do. They know the families and the histories of different people. I'm confident they'd do a great job."

The 4th District seat on the board is open as well; its current holder, Marty Danzer, a Democrat, is running unopposed for re-election in the primary election. The district includes Glidden, Dedham, Coon Rapids and Ralston.

Danzer, who has a corn, soybean and cattle farm operation southeast of Carroll, has served on the board for 12 years and wants to continue the work he has helped accomplish during his three terms. He added that his years of experience on the board will help with budget decisions that need to be made in the future.

"A lot of what we deal with anymore is handed down by state funding," he said. "You just take things as they come along. You have to come up with creative ways to deal with what you have when it comes down to local issues as far as funding."

The primary election is June 3. County residents can vote for any of the supervisors on the ballot, regardless of the districts in which they live.

No Republicans have filed to run for either open district's seat. Although the deadline to file was in March, an interested candidate can still campaign for write-in votes - about 100 would earn that person a spot on the ballot for November's general election, Carroll County Republican Chairman Craig Williams of Manning said. That number changes based on past elections. County delegates can also join together for a convention after the primary election to nominate a candidate for the November ballot.

This is far from the first time that both parties weren't represented for a position on the ballot, he said.

"Unfortunately, it's very common," Williams said. "It's difficult to get people to want to run for office."

And they should want to, he added:

"The people who run the supervisors office have a much better say in what happens in this county than the president of the United States."