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The June 2 primary election features a four-man race for the Republican nomination to fill two seats on the Ringgold County board of supervisors:
Colby Holmes farms northwest of Benton with his wife, Tricia and son, Russell, where they raise corn and soybeans and have an Angus seedstock herd, along with a commercial cattle herd.
Steve Knapp of Redding worked in the Ringgold County Secondary Roads department for 27 years and is now employed at Graceland University in mechanical maintenance (two years).
Kraig Pennington of Mount Ayr is a current county supervisor and retired military (23 years).
Kurt Shaha of Mount Ayr is a farmer/dirt contractor.
As in the past elections, the Record-News has asked the candidates to respond to a brief set of questions aimed at providing voters insight into the candidates’ positions.
Their answers are presented here in their entirety with only minor editorial changes, if necessary.
[Candidates running unopposed in their party’s primary are not included in this series of articles.]
RN: Please list your involvement in community activities.
Shaha: I’ve always supported the county fair, Ringgold County Sheriff’s reserve officer for 36 years, fireman for over 20 years.
Pennington: I would like to see ‘Coffee and Cookies’ [with the supervisors] to continue every quarter in hopes more people will become active in local county discussions and interests. I will continue to sit on various boards for the county, and I will continue to attend and support local fundraisers, whether it be for a person, family, or entity.
Knapp: For the last 12 or so years, I have been at or involved in school activities with three boys in band and sports, plays, etc. I am a member of the UBP church but not as active as I should be but I’m working on it! Working out of town makes it harder to be involved sometimes.
Holmes: I have organized and assisted the Ringgold County Farm Bureau in the Ringgold County Appreciation Meal at the Ringgold County Fair and picking up trash along Highway 2. My wife and I sponsored the uniforms for several youth basketball teams in Diagonal and within the county. My wife and I donated meat and helped serve the meals at several Mount Ayr High School golf meets. We also donated a half a beef for a raffle to help support class expenses at the Mount Ayr Community School. I was a volunteer Pop-Warner Football coach for three years. I am also a member of the Mount Ayr Golf and Country Club.
RN: Please describe your experience in county government and/or leadership positions, decision-making positions, etc.
Pennington: 20 years in leadership position in US Army (retired 1st Sergeant ), 7+ years in county government as a county supervisor, chairman of several boards.
Knapp: I have been a long-time Clinton Township trustee and Redding Cemetery board member. I also was shop foreman at secondary roads for 17 years before taking the blade route in my Redding area. I also make day-to-day decisions on our cow-calf farm that I started from scratch.
Holmes: I have been on the Ringgold County Farm Bureau board of directors for 18 years where I have been the president, vice president, and now currently serve as the Ringgold County voting delegate. One of my bigger accomplishments as president was coming up with idea to promote agriculture by writing the grant to help fund the signs that are around the county that say, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.” I try to make a trip at least once a year to the state capital to lobby for rural issues that we all face. I was also appointed to the State Resolutions Committee for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for one year. I have also been a long time Grant Township trustee where we deal with fence and land disputes. In 2017, my wife and I were the co-chairmen of the National Junior Angus Show, which is the largest breed cattle show in the nation. Several years of financial planning, event planning, fundraising, organization, and committee work went into hosting this multi-million-dollar event. I also help organize the Iowa Southern Angus Show in Mount Ayr the first weekend in May every year. This show brings in several people throughout the state to our community.
Shaha: Ringgold County supervisor from 2008-2012. Ringgold County Sheriff reserve officer for 36 years. Former Sun Valley Lake board member. Former firemen Union Township Fire Department for over 20 years. Owner of Shaha Construction from 1992-2020. A farmer my whole life. Four-year degree from Northwest Missouri State University.
RN: What do you see as the primary duty of a county supervisor?
Knapp: To work with all departments within the county to do what is best for county residents. Hire trustworthy employees and ensure a balanced budget that benefits not only residents but all local businesses that help our economy.
Holmes: The duty of a county supervisor is to be mindful of taxpayer money by managing county finances and government and always being open to new ideas. I also think we need to implement long term goals in order to insure a successful future for our county.
Shaha: A supervisor is the taxpayer’s representative, to see that tax money is spent wisely, while making realistic budgets, and see to it that government services are maintained in a timely manner, while being fair to county employees, all while being very open and transparent.
Pennington: A county supervisor works for the citizens of the county (first and foremost). They are responsible for taxpayer money and ensuring that county infrastructure is maintained and upgraded if needed. Making sure county services are taken care of such as Ringgold County Supportive Services, county-held offices, and Public Health along with Conservation, to name a few.
RN: What specific ideas do you have to address the maintenance of county roads and bridges?
Holmes: A big concern of mine is the safety of our travelers. Having no painted lines on highways brings huge liability to the county and puts the safety of our citizens at risk. Our bridges and culverts need to take first priority in being addressed. I want to be more proactive in repairing our roads and bridges so that it will help keep repair expenses minimal.
Shaha: Replace small bridges with big pipes and box culverts, thus saving a lot of money because bridges are terribly expensive, and better preventative maintenance.
Pennington: I wish to maintain the rock budget and currently we are on track to fix three bridges a year. We are replacing bridges with culverts where possible. I wish to continue with cutting of county ditches, brush piles and right-of-way. I would like to see us have a workforce for keeping county jobs done by county workers. Currently we need to maintain the workforce that we have.
Knapp: I would like to find a way to do more resurfacing instead of only patching or at least have a plan to do a stretch each year. I think replacing bridges with culverts should continue as we have for the past 20-some years. In some cases if the right size is used, it seems to work fine and without weight restrictions.
RN: What specific ideas do you have to spur economic development in the county?
Shaha: We need industrial growth, by having tax credits, thus bringing jobs to the county. We should advertise our county for hunting and fishing and camping. We have some of the best county and city parks in the state, and our game areas are also some of the best in the state.
Pennington: Continue to improve county infrastructure so we may bring in businesses. Without good roads we cannot get or maintain business within the county. Continue to work with Ringgold County Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, and the cities in Ringgold County on ideas for further county development. Support local businesses, especially during this challenging time.
Knapp: Now that is a tough one! First off, I would like to start by spending tax dollars in Ringgold County every time possible in an effort to support the businesses we already have. I don’t think that gaining one while losing two is in anyone’s best interest. I am open to any ideas that haven’t already been tried as I am coming into this with an open mind.
Holmes: First and foremost, I want to maintain what businesses we have in our communities. When we lose businesses, it is very difficult to bounce back from that impact. I think the Ringgold County Development Corporation is a great asset and have currently stepped up their game by adding a new position to help keep our county growing. The supervisors need to work hand-in-hand with the Ringgold County Development Corporation to recruit new businesses to our community.
RN: Please list and explain your top three priorities if elected to the board of supervisors:
a. Continue to strive for a balanced budget limiting spending as much as possible.
b. Keep improving roads and bridges. Highway markings are scheduled to be completed as best we can by the end of summer 2020.
c. Continue listening to the people and providing them with their wishes as best we can.
a. Improve infrastructure (roads and bridges)
b. Welfare and safety of county residents – probably should be first!
c. Balanced budget and work with what we have without raising taxes.
a. My top priority is to maintain public safety by having adequate law enforcement staff, fire department funding, and by making sure our medical needs continue to be met.
b. My second priority is county infrastructure. If we can’t get to and from our jobs safely and efficiently, then it negatively impacts our citizens and economy.
c. Our county has to be run as a business. It has to be financially sound to be a viable and vibrant community.
a. Be more efficient with the budget
b. Improve the roads
c. Improve health and safety of Ringgold County.
RN: Please give the single best reason county voters should choose you to fill a seat on the board of supervisors:
Knapp: I was born and raised in Ringgold County as was everyone in my family, and I want the best for all of us! In my time as an employee there, I developed an appreciation for where we live, especially with this COVID flu stuff.
Holmes: I love this county, this county is my home and forever will be. I live on a farm that was homesteaded by my ancestors. I make my living in this county and this is where I raised my kids. I am passionate about keeping our county safe and wonderful place to work and live. I want this county to be as successful as anyone. This is where my friends and family live and work. I have been a taxpayer in this county most of my life and will continue to be and want your and my money to be spent wisely. Rest assured, proper use of your taxpayer money will be a factor when I go to vote.
Shaha: I have a record of getting the job done.
Pennington: First and foremost, I believe that I work for the people of Ringgold County. I encourage everyone to contact any or all supervisors with concerns and ideas, and from that I will try to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of all citizens of the county.
[Next week’s article will feature the Republican candidates for State Senate District 12.]