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Finstad challenges Berg in District 2

Bridge issue inspires Finstad to run for office

October 21, 2010
By Fritz Busch Staff Writer

BROWN COUNTY - Brown County voters have a choice Nov. 2 between District 2 incumbent commissioner Jim Berg and challenger Mike Finstad.

Both men farm.

Berg, who has served three terms, said the county is doing as well as can be expected in challenging times.

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Jim Berg is the incumbent in the District 2 County Commissioner race.

"We're debt-free, but budget work is never-ending. It affects all taxpayers," he added.

"You can cut a lot out of the budget, but you cut yourself in the foot by cutting too much and bad things happen like equipment falling apart," Berg said.

His budget priorities are keeping roads in good shape, getting matching grants and learning how to be more efficient from other counties.

"We're watching what other counties are doing to save money and working with them on joint powers boards," he said.

"We're meeting with the county fire chiefs association to update them on what's going on with the new FCC 800 megahertz radio mandate.

"It's a costly item, but we're working hard to find grants to help other cities make the radio conversion," Berg added.

Berg said the county had one of the lowest tax increases in the area last year and plans a 2.5 to 5 percent 2011 tax hike.

He said Brown County commissioners haven't raised their salaries in about three years and are among the lowest paid commissioners in this part of the state.

Berg stays busy year around farming, spending time with his grandchildren plus hunting and following NASCAR racing.

"Grandchildren help keep me down to earth," he said.

Finstad works full time at Martin Luther College as a boiler man and does maintenance work.

A disabled veteran and farmer who advocates not using chemicals, he became interested in running for the county board after learning about rural bridge issues.

Finstad said bridges, especially if they are on farms, sometimes should be repaired instead of replaced with large culverts.

"I talked to (Brown County Auditor/Treasurer) Mandy Helget about county issues one day and he said if I want to do something about it, 'run for office,'" Finstad added.

His other county board ideas include holding a 7 p.m. commissioner meeting once a month so people that work during the day can attend.

He'd like to see county gardens created for people to rent to grow their own vegetables, a concept he said is more common in the southern United States.

Finstad promotes chemical-free, four-crop rotation farming.

"I haven't put any chemicals on my organic corn, soybeans, hay and wheat for four years," he added. "A soil sample showed the land is more fertile with the bugs and microbes back in it."

Finstad served 22 years in the Army and Army Reserves.

"I served my country that long, I suppose it's time I served by county too," he said.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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