Twelve candidates are competing for the five spots on the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors next week.

All the positions on the Board are open this fall due to redistricting following the 2010 census. Districts were redrawn and went into effect earlier this year. Supervisors are elected only by the residents of their district.

Voters should reference their voter identification card mailed this spring, or call the auditor's office at 563-382-5085 for more information on supervisor districts or polling locations. Election information also is available at on the auditor's page.

Absentee voting is available in the auditor's office at the Winneshiek County Courthouse 8 a.m.-4 p.m. during work week and next Monday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

District 1

There is a three-way race for the District 1 position on the Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Bill Ibanez (D) is being challenged by Republican Dennis Karlsbroten and Bob Watson (nominated by petition).

Ibanez is a retired professional engineer, Karlsbroten is a seed stock producer and farmer and Watson owns Watson Brothers, working as a sales representative for manufacturers and service providers in the wastewater industry.

During a recent candidate forum, Ibanez said he believes in policies and investments that strengthen the economy and provide opportunities for citizens, small businesses and the agricultural community, while enhancing our natural resources.

Watson said his campaign is based on providing a new, county-funded heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to improve air- quality at North Winneshiek School, energy efficiency, the pursuit of happiness, neighborliness and controlling barking dogs, sheriff's department staffing and zoning change notifications.

Karlsbroten said he would devote his attention to agriculture, light industry and tourism.

District 2

There is no incumbent in the new District 2. Floyd Ashbacher (R), Rachel Vagts (D) and John Franzen (nominated by petition) are all vying for the position.

Ashbacher worked for the Winneshiek County Sheriff's Department from 1977 through 2002. He was chief deputy before being elected sheriff in 1993. He is a security officer at Northeast Iowa Community College.

As sheriff, Ashbacher said he worked with both previous Board of Supervisors and county residents. He said he believes in listening to all citizens of the county.

Franzen is a member of the Decorah City Council and assistant manager at Sears. If elected, Franzen said he would be a supervisor for "everybody," which is why he is running under no party affiliation.

Vagts is also a member of the Decorah City Council and is the archivist at Luther College. Before she was elected to the Council, Vagts was a member of the Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission. She said she sees opportunities for applying what she's learned serving the city to the entire county.

District 3

In District 3, Supervisor Les Askelson (R) is being opposed by Democrat Dean Thompson.

Askelson is chair of the Board of Supervisors and general manager/part owner of KVIK and KNEI radio stations. He said he has "excellent skills" for taking action and getting things done.

Thompson is retired following a 32-year career with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Thompson said supervisors are responsible for all the assets of the county. Their job is to be stewards of the county's natural resources, he said.

District 4

Democrat Clark Goltz will challenge incumbent John Logsdon (R) for supervisor District 4.

Logsdon said he enjoys the challenges of being a supervisor and working on various boards as a representative of the county.

Goltz is a former school administrator now working as a consultant. Goltz said he has the energy to collaborate and build consensus. He also said he likes to help people.

District 5

In District 5, incumbent Supervisor Lonnie Pierce (R) is in a contest with Mark Kuhn (D).

Kuhn raises registered Angus cattle and is a sales representative for American Breeder Service. He said supervisors need to be more available to their constituents.

Pierce owns Pierce Industrial Electronics, which repairs industrial controls. He and his wife, JoAnn, are part owners of Evangeline's gift shop in Mabel, Minn.

Pierce, who has served two years as a supervisor, said he wants to address the county's "fiscal problems," and that he hasn't had enough time on the Board to work on things he wants to see changed.

Supervisors serve four-year terms. However, in order to maintain staggered terms, supervisors in District 1 and 2 will be elected to two-year terms and the other supervisors will be elected to four-year terms.


Republican Sheriff Lee Bohr and Auditor Ben Steines are other county officials seeking re-election. Steines is unopposed. Bohr is being challenged by Independent candidate Deputy Chuck Ihde. The sheriff and auditor serve four-year terms.

Bohr was appointed chief deputy in 1993 after serving as a law enforcement officer for eight years. He became sheriff in 2002. He said he enjoys serving the public and that he cares about protecting people.

Ihde is currently a sheriff's deputy. He did not attend the candidate forum last month and did not return Decorah Newspapers' call for comment.

Other boards

Three incumbents on the Soil and Water Conservation Commission are up for re-election. They are Danny Leidahl, John Lubke and Wilbur Stoen. They face no opposition.

On the Agricultural Extension Board there are four vacancies. Gary Lien and Jessica Rediske are seeking re-election, and Edward Albertson and Kevin Lansing are running for the remaining two openings.

County residents also will vote on township trustees and whether to retain judges.