Springfield businessman seeking District 5 commissioner’s seat
Owns map illustration business
BROWN COUNTY — A Springfield map illustration business owner is one of four candidates seeking the Brown County Board of Commissioners District 5 seat.
Growing up in St. Paul, Derek Tonn earned a BA degree in Bethel University and an MBA at the University of St. Thomas. He worked in the metro area for four years and founded his business in St. Paul before moving to Springfield 14 years ago.
Tonn traveled the country, doing course mapping and signage for disc golf courses in cities, counties and state parks.
“I play disc golf,” Tonn said. “It’s a fun hobby that supplements my business. I like using my business education to improve our home town and county. My wife and I are very active, trying to give back, making Springfield and Brown County a better place. She’s on the Mayo Clinic Springfield hospital board.
Derek has served on the Springfield Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, as Vice President of the Brown County Economic Development Partners Group and Region 9 Development Planning Committee.
Tonn said preserving Brown County by looking at environmental and economic issues is very important to him. He said he served on economic development task forces under former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.
“With a strong technology background, I think I can help with web development work,” Tonn said. “In the early 1990s, I worked with Bethel students and even some in San Diego, using AOL (America Online). I’ve tried to stay fluent with the latest technology. I work with computer programmers and developers and feel it’s an asset I can bring to the table.”
Tonn said he built one of the world’s first distance learning computer programs back in the early 1990s.
On the campaign trail, Tonn said he learned about Brown County’s need for more childcare options.
“People are having trouble finding care for infants, pre-school kids and for kids after school,” Tonn said. “It’s to the point where the shortage is making it harder to find employment talent.”
Tonn said law enforcement and health care personnel tell him space is needed to place people with mental health issues and those recovering from legal and illegal substances instead of winding up in jail and medical facilities, putting doctors and nurses in situations they shouldn’t be in.
“They’re looking into this,” Tonn said. “I’ve met with the county sheriff and state legislators about this.”
In addition, Tonn said his college work experience included driving shuttle buses and managing the people who operated transportation systems would help him oversee county transportation services.
Tonn said he would like to see a political candidate forum in which he could face his political challengers in public. So far, that has not happened.