Name: Brandon Talsma
Office sought: County Supervisor
Occupation: Land and Property Management
Education: Associates in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security
Elected offices held: None
1. Reintroduce yourself to Jasper County voters and explain why you want to be on the board of supervisors.
My name is Brandon Talsma, and I`m a Jasper County native. My family has lived and farmed in Jasper County for four generations. I graduated from Pella Christian High School in 2005 and joined the Army immediately after graduation. I was in the 1st Infantry Division for 6.5 years, deploying twice to Iraq. My wife Holly and I have been married ten years and we currently have four kids. After getting out of the Army in 2011, we moved back home to Jasper County. I have an associates degree in criminal justice with an emphasis on homeland security.
I am seeking a position on the (Jasper County) Board of Supervisors for a few different reasons. First, I think it’s extremely important somebody with agriculture and rural ties remain on the board to represent the rural citizens. Second, I`m tired of seeing little to nothing being done to improve the situation of the county like the conditions of the roads and lack of countywide development. Third, I feel citizens’ voices are not being heard and if heard are completely ignored. I believe it’s time for new ideas and energy on the board. I will bring my work ethic from the farm and my dedication from the Army if elected onto the board.
2. What do you believe are the two most important issues Jasper County is dealing with presently? Do you feel current elected leadership is making a conscious effort to address these matters?
I believe the two most pressing issues are the state of the roads/bridges and the lack of development in the county. I routinely travel on gravel roads in several different counties and by far Jasper has the worst. The maintenance practices on the roads are obviously not working and need to be addressed. How resurfacing projects are prioritized needs to re-examined, as well as the forward planning and thinking, or lack of. When it comes to development, the county is currently ranked 97th out of 99 counties in the state for economic growth. All of the other counties who butt up to Polk County have growing development. However, when it comes to Jasper there is relatively very little. The county is not contractor-, developer- or builder-friendly, and this issue needs to be addressed.
3. Do you feel the communication between the supervisors and taxpayers is adequate regarding the future of the Jasper County Annex Building and the currently unresponsive courthouse clock tower? Why or why not?
I don’t think there is good communication between the board and the citizens. Several of the people I have spoken with over the course of the summer have had questions about the annex building. They all know there is an issue and about the debate that’s been going on for five years. However, they do not know exactly all that is wrong with the building, let alone how much the entire project may cost the county. As for the courthouse clock tower, most people I spoke with didn’t know there was a restoration project in the works. There should be more communication being made with citizens.
4. How proactive should the board of supervisors be on the possible disappearance of state property tax backfill payments from the Iowa Legislature?
Supervisors should be extremely proactive about the potential loss of the backfill payments. These payments make up a significant chunk of money and to simply do nothing about it is not an option. Elected officials seem to always be fond of saying, “We run the government like a business." I have never seen a business face a loss of revenue by continuing business as usual. One should start looking for alternative revenue streams and places in the budget to cut operating expenses. Simply continuing business as usual or saying the tax levies will be raised to compensate for this loss is not an option. The loss of payments is a very real possibility and needs to be taken seriously, possible solutions need to be drawn up and ready to be enacted.
5. Do you believe the supervisors should be more transparent regarding board mistakes and errors, even if it may reflect badly on the county? Do the taxpayers have a right to know?
The supervisors are there to represent the people of the county with complete transparency. Citizens have the right to know every discussion and decision that takes place. Not everybody is always going to be happy with every final decision. The board is made up of individual people; therefore mistakes will be made on occasion. Mistakes, no matter how they reflect upon the county or individual board members, should never be hidden from the citizens.
6. What is a priority you hope to bring more attention to during your term as supervisor?
There needs to be more of an emphasis placed on law enforcement in the county. I think Sheriff Halferty and his personnel are doing an outstanding job. They are extremely proactive with many issues the county is currently facing, including the lapse in mental health care created from state cutbacks. The sheriff’s department is undermanned; this causes difficulties in providing necessary services. Most nights there is only one deputy on duty for the entire county. The sheriff’s department is the most important service the county government provides. Everything needs to be done to ensure their budget is not cut, they have the proper equipment, enough personnel and up-to-date training to be able to accomplish their jobs.
7. How do you decide whether a project is worth taxpayer investment? What factors play into your final decision?
The first thing to look at is whether the project is necessary. Does the project pertain to one of the fundamental services the county provides such as roads and law enforcement or is it just for show? Then ask the following questions: What are the overall costs of the project? What services will be rendered or improved by investing in this? What is the desired goal through this project? Does it have an end or is it a potential money pit that will never stop requiring further investment? One must be smart and forward thinking when it comes to investing in projects.
8. How would you handle discourse with fellow supervisors who may have conflicting ideas?
As a supervisor, one is elected to serve and represent the people not their own selfish, self-serving ideas. I would sit down and discuss my views and ideas with my fellow supervisors; being calm and rational while trying to work through our difference to find a common ground. I feel one should be able to act like an adult, show respect and discuss differences. It doesn’t mean everyone will agree with one another but keeping communication open is important. Supervisors need to remember they are there to serve the citizens in the best manner possible and to put aside pride, selfish ambition or ideas.
For any questions or if you would like to speak with me please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at fb.me/talsma4supervisor.