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Three incumbents face challenges in Clay

Three of five current Clay County commissioners are being challenged in the Nov.

Three of five current Clay County commissioners are being challenged in the Nov. 5 general election.

In District 1, incumbent Ben Brunsvold faces Dean Guida.

Incumbent Jon Evert is being challenged by Richard Peppel in District 3.

New candidates Curt Borgen and Kevin Campbell are vying for the District 4 seat previously held for 36 years by Commissioner Casey Brantner.

Commissioner Mike McCarthy's is running unopposed in District 5 and District 2 Commissioner Jerry Waller is not up for election this year.


The four-year terms pay $20,508 per year.

Curt Borgen

Borgen, 68, said experience separates him from his opponent.

For 12 years, he helped set budgets as a member of the Moorhead School Board.

"We began with a budget in deficit and turned this around, in spite of declining student enrollment, to year end balances in excess of $1 million," Borgen said.

The budget and jail overcrowding are issues the county must deal with in the next four years, he said.

The Clay County Commission needs to be less "hands on" with the various county departments, he said.

"I have a deep desire to serve my friends and neighbors in Moorhead and Clay County and, at this point, feel that can best be done as a commissioner," Borgen said.


Brantner has endorsed Campbell, saying he thought Borgen was too old to be learning a new job.

But Borgen said his age shouldn't be a concern. "That is only important if you are planning another 36 year run," he said. "I have no such plans."

Kevin Campbell

Campbell, 48, said the three most important issues the county will face include: the budget, population growth and public safety.

"I have concerns regarding how much the budget has increased over the last 10 years with only a 1.6 percent increase in population," Campbell said.

At the same time, county taxes have nearly doubled, he said.

Clay County needs someone to focus specifically on economic development, Campbell said. The Clay County Commission should contract out a position that deals primarily with improving the residential growth rate, recruiting businesses and finding ways to assist farmers.

The county can help combat crime by supporting programs like 4-H, he said.


Campbell has more than 27 years of accounting experience with Mac's Inc., a Fargo-based hardware supply business.

That experience, analyzing and preparing financial data, gives him an edge over his opponent, he said.

Ben Brunsvold

Brunsvold, 61, said economic development must be a county priority in the next four years.

"While Fargo, Cass County and surrounding communities have enjoyed huge economic growth during the past 10 years, the city of Moorhead has lost population and Clay County has only grown slightly," he said.

North Dakota no longer has advantages in workers compensation costs, property taxes and income taxes that it has had in the past, he said.

Brunsvold chaired a commission that examined development opportunities in Clay County. The board determined that a countywide economic development authority that actively facilitates development, plans necessary infrastructure and works with existing economic development boards, was needed.

Dean Guida


Guida, 54, said the top issues facing the county include: balancing the budget, combating flooding and a lawsuit brought against Clay County and former Sheriff Larry Costello by a former deputy.

To control spending, the county must look to cut costs for nonessential services, he said.

"All departments within the county need to continually look for ways to reduce their budgets and be able to tell commissioners what impact on county services those cuts would create," he said.

The County Commission also must try to control exorbitant insurance prices.

Guida's budgeting experience stems from six years spent on the Moorhead School Board. He also serves on the Eventide Lutheran Home board of directors.

Jon Evert

Evert, 55, has been a Clay County Commissioner for eight years.

The top issues facing the county include: putting the county's new comprehensive plan into place, promoting economic development and maintaining effective service with a limited budget.


Evert has 27 years experience balancing the budget on his family farm, 13 years as owner and operator of a certified seed conditioning business, four years as mayor of Comstock, Minn., as well as helping prepare county budgets for eight years.

"I believe the county should work toward a system of policy governance, leaving the management to the administrators," Evert said.

The county and its communities are at an exciting and crucial position, he said.

"The opportunities for growth and quality of life have never been better," Evert said.

Richard Peppel

Peppel, 60, served 21 years on the Barnesville Township Board.

He said he is familiar with both state and federal legislators whom, he said, will come in handy when it comes to trying to get funding for road and bridge projects.

"I feel I'm qualified to help get funding," he said.


Peppel's budgeting experience stems from his work on the township board and operating a farm.

The Barnesville Township Board worked with a budget of $50,000 to $60,000, he said.

Peppel believes the commissioners should meet at least yearly with the entire sheriff's department to hear concerns.

"I've been a resident of Clay County for 60 years," he said. "I know how the county works and I have the time. I feel I relate well with people."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Baird at (701) 241-5535

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