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Olson reply to Evanson letter (11/04/2012)
From: Greg Olson

As a candidate running for reelection to the Winona County Board (representing west-central Winona), I have welcomed and encouraged a vigorous discussion of the issues. I am pleased to have run a clean race, and have insisted to my supporters that they behave with respect toward my opponent and for our electoral process.

Unfortunately, however, one of my opponent’s supporters, a mere few days before the election, has written a last-minute letter to the editor meant to try and cast aspersions about me. Recalling the “Swift-Boat” attacks, I feel I now must respond so you have the facts.

The City of Winona hired me as a building inspector in 2000. Then in 2002, doctors found that I had a non-cancerous brain tumor. Treatment took many trips to Mayo Clinic, an MRI every other week, and medicine that cost $1,000 a week. I didn’t ask for any help with my bills that were not covered by insurance. I fully regained my health, but of course was left with a huge medical debt.

I have always tried to live by principles of hard work, responsibility, and love and support of my family, so I decided that the way I responded to these challenges—with a positive, get-it-done attitude—could serve as an example for my son and daughter.

I worked hard. I formed a small business with my brother and did home inspections. My son and I mowed lawns and did snow removal. I paid my bills. The City decided many years later that this work could be perceived as a conflict of interest, and asked me to stop. Since other City employees were doing similar off-duty activities, I filed a grievance. The arbitrator sided with the City, so I can no longer assist my son or my brother.

As building inspector I strictly enforced the rental ordinance, which had not been consistently enforced for several years. A few landlords were upset and some complaints were filed around 2006, but the City declared them baseless. No disciplinary action was taken.

The union has a current grievance filed in an unrelated matter that I cannot discuss. I can say that my union feels we have a very good case.

I am proud of having brought together landlords, neighborhood groups, and WSU, thereby improving relationships in our neighborhoods and among our student residents.

My strict and consistent enforcement of city codes has saved lives and lessened the liability of rental property owners. I was honored and humbled when the Winona City Council recently recognized my efforts, after my actions saved many lives.

I’ve done my best to bring a no-nonsense, practical attitude to the County Board. During my first term I have helped lower your taxes every single year, and made our government smaller, leaner and more effective, without a loss in services.  


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