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Mike Nielsen - 2010 Candidate Questionnaire

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Mike Nielsen is running for the position of county commissioner for District 2 in Bonner County

River Journal questionnaire for 2010 election candidates


Candidate Name:  Mike A. Nielsen

Position running for:  County Commissioner (District-2 Position)

Incumbent? (Yes/No):  No

Political Party Affiliation: Republican


  1. What special skills and/or experience do you have that enables you to do this job?


I am a problem-solver, not a politician.  As a retired law enforcement commander and administrator, I bring a unique combination of professional education (BS Degree in Criminology with emphasis in Police Administration), executive and technical training, coupled with more than 27 years of progressively responsible paid leadership experience in public safety.  This includes 14 years of planning and budgeting at the command and staff level in municipal administration.  I also served 15 years as an Internal Affairs Officer.  Honesty and integrity are the principles that will guide my decisions as your commissioner.  I appreciate, understand, and respect the proper processes required to make good government work for the people, not special interests.


I have served Bonner County as an “active volunteer” for more than 10 years; during which I founded and continue to command the Priest Lake Search & Rescue Team, served as Chair for the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and chaired the Public Safety Communications Committee.  I have also volunteered with Coolin-Cavanaugh Bay Fire for over 8 years, and I am completing my second year as its Chief.  Consequently, I am intimately familiar with many of the issues facing the county.


  1. Do you believe that money impedes the political process? Please explain, and share any ideas you might have regarding any issues this raises.


It is expensive to conduct a winning campaign and this may preclude some potential candidates from seeking office.  However, this compels each candidate to address their commitment to public service, by challenging their willingness to expend their funds as is required to win.  I am retired and have the time to serve – I am not looking for a job.


  1. What specific actions would you take, if elected, to make government at your level more transparent to the voter?


This is a major proposal of my campaign.  I will work to have the Bonner County financial records, including the budgets, sources of income, and expenditures posted on the County website.  In addition, I would like to see all of the available reserve funds posted in a similar manner so the voters can make informed decisions about the financial condition of our County. 


  1. Are there any positions taken by your affiliated political party that you would personally feel uncomfortable endorsing?


I generally agree with the Republican platform; however, I understand it may request its candidates to take an Oath to the Party.  I intend to represent the “will of all the people” in Bonner County.  Consequently, the only oath I intend to take is to uphold the US and Idaho Constitutions when sworn in as your County Commissioner.  I will follow both Constitutions which may make others uncomfortable. 


  1. Can you explain how to balance the people’s need for services with their desire for lower taxes? Can you give specific examples of budgets you would cut or increase, and your reasons why? Please share any alternatives you may have to the current taxing situation. (For example, someone might prefer an income tax be repealed and replaced with a sales tax, or vice versa.)


I believe it is premature to give specific recommendations on the departmental budgets until I assume office.  However, I am committed to not increasing property taxes without a 2/3 vote of the electorate as required by Article 8, Section 3 of the Idaho Constitution.


As a fiscal conservative, I believe government should do those things for us which we cannot do for ourselves.  We must weigh the benefit of expenditure (service) against the burden (taxes).


I would support a local increase in the sales tax rate to allow the tourists to help fund our local services which they use, and to help reduce our property tax burden.  I would prefer to make this a local “seasonal sales tax” from May through September of each year to capture some of the tourism dollars.


  1. Do you support removing the requirement of political affiliation (declaring as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc…) from any of our local elected positions, as Montana has done?


I have always voted for what I perceived to be the best qualified candidate, regardless of his/her affiliation.  I would support the concept that local county elections become non-partisan, the same as we do for our judicial elected positions.


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Bonner County, elections, Mike Nielsen, commissioner

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