From: Tessa Schweitzer
Last fall, Winona County’s land use ordinance was amended by the most politicized County Board in recent history. This was made possible by Steve Jacob, his campaign loyalists and funders, and the blessing of fellow commissioners Wayne Valentine and Marcia Ward. Separately, votes by Valentine, Ward, and Jacob have opened the door for frac sand mining here, refusing to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement on the Nisbit mine, then permitting it.
These commissioners’ actions encourage destructive activity in the county — activity that makes a few wealthy but does little to bring sustainable jobs to Winona County nor attract new residents. For the many, it will mean further destruction of groundwater, devaluation of property, increased road maintenance, and decreased quality of life.
These three commissioners have also padded the citizen advisory panel to develop the comprehensive plan with Jacob donors and mostly men. This group is already changing language to encourage factory farming at the expense of the family farm model. And recently, the lone female on the Board of Adjustment was passed over as representative to the Planning Commission in favor of a man with less experience but whose family donated $900 to Steve Jacob’s campaign.
Valentine, Ward, and Jacob voting en bloc make this all possible. Valentine and Ward are up for reelection next fall. Hopefully some good souls from both of their districts will step up to run. In turn, residents would do well to support them and remind those in elected office that what is for the good of the many is often times not what Jacob, Valentine, and Ward hear in their own echo chamber. The kind of leadership needed is that demonstrated by Houston County’s board. Houston County Board member Dana Kjome was recently quoted as saying while he feared frac sand regulations, he took issue with land use activities that affected neighbors.