JEFFERSON COUNTY – Voters will have a decision to make this June in who they want to represent their party for the general election in November.
Two seats on the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors are up for grabs. One of them belongs to incumbent supervisor Dee Sandquist, a Republican, who is running for re-election. The other belongs to Republican Lee Dimmitt, who is stepping down from the board. County supervisor terms last four years.
Since there are two open seats, both the Democratic and Republican parties can put two names on the ballot from their party. The Republican Party has four candidates running. The top two vote-getters in the June 2 primary will remain on the ballot for the November election. The Democratic side has only one candidate, Susie Drish, so barring a late write-in campaign, she will represent that party in November.
The other three Republicans beside Sandquist who are seeking their party’s nomination are Nick Adam, Amanda Beasley-Pohren and Tim Tedrow. The Union reached out to those four Republicans and the one Democrat to learn about their background, their relevant experience, and their plans for the county.
Union: Can you tell us about your background, such as where you grew up, what you do for a living, and how long you’ve lived in Jefferson County?
Dee Sandquist: My ancestors have been in Jefferson County since the 1850’s. I was born in here, graduated from Fairfield High School in 1971 and from Iowa State University with a B.S. and a Master’s Degree in Management. My husband and I have been married 44 years. We have three children and three grandchildren. I worked primarily in healthcare leadership and management positions for over 40 years.
In 2008, I returned after the death of my brother and dad to care for my mom and help manage the farm. My husband and I farm east of Fairfield and our goal is to take care of the land and water for future generations. In total, I’ve lived in Jefferson County 35 years. In Washington State, I managed an outpatient specialty clinic and inpatient dietitian and diabetes services in a 400- bed medical center. As entrepreneurs, my husband and I started one of the first gluten-free grocery stores in the country in 2005. I worked as a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee almost 10 years and retired after becoming a supervisor.
Amanda Beasley-Pohren: I grew up on a Century farm in Jefferson County and have raised my children on a farm adjoining where I grew up. Agriculture is the foundation of our county and that has been passed on to my children, they have been active in 4-H and FFA.
Most recently, I worked as a Project Manager but have been laid off due to Covid-19. Prior to that, I worked in the Jefferson County Treasurer’s office as the Deputy Treasurer.
Nick Adam: I’ve been a resident of the Batavia area since 1953. I graduated from Cardinal High School in 1973. After graduating, I got married and had three children.
In 1973, I started my farming operation where I raised corn and soybeans. In 2004, I took my two sons in the operation as partners.
Tim Tedrow: I grew up in Jefferson County. My parents were farmers, and I’ve farmed all my life. I went to school in Fairfield, and graduated from FHS. I’m married with children and grandchildren.
I worked for the Iowa Department of Transportation for 20 years. I went on my own to work construction for my own company, Tedrow Backhoe and Trenching. I also run a cow-calf operation.
Susie Drish: I grew up in the Pleasant Plain area and have been a resident of Jefferson County most of my life. I graduated from Fairfield High School and later from Iowa State University in Ames.
After college, I was employed by ISU in the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and later in reproduction. Cutbacks in the programs allowed me the opportunity to move back to southeast Iowa. I have worked in Federal Employment and Training programs for close to 39 years assisting Dislocated Workers, youth and adults that needed help with jobs, training or obtaining a GED.
Union: What experience do you have that would make you a good supervisor?
Sandquist: Currently, I’m serving my first term as a county supervisor. I look at the big picture and how the moving parts work together in order to provide services in a fiscally responsible manner. I serve on over ten committees, work with 26 other county supervisors and continually ask the question, “What is the outcome for the money spent?” I want to know we are getting results. I maintain tact and composure in difficult situations. My management, small business and farming experience provide a variety of skills because the job includes a variety of areas. I use a business based approach based upon the law, facts and resident input when making decisions. Healthcare is similar to county government…. Laws and rules constantly change and funding is largely controlled by the state or federal requirements.
Because I’ve lived in another part of the country, I have an excellent understanding of the diversity in our community. The question is not “us” or “them” it’s “How?” Let’s focus on how we can work together, what unites us, and take small steps to move this county forward to meet the needs of a variety of individuals. In my experience, once a common goal is agreed upon, the process becomes clearer for how to find a solution.
Beasley-Pohren: Working in the Jefferson County Treasurers office for over six years has given me the knowledge and awareness of public concerns and how to correctly have them addressed.
Adam: I’ve served on many boards such as the school board, Lions Club, Farm Bureau, Corn Growers, Knights of Columbus and Soybean association.
Tedrow: I’ve been in the construction world of DOT and a heavy equipment operator. I wasn’t a foreman but I was a true leader in the DOT. I went back to school to study concrete and bridges, and I could help the county in the road department.
Drish: I am a very dedicated to doing as much as I can for Jefferson County. My experience at many levels brings an understanding of the local needs of all the residents of this county.
I grew up on a farm, was very involved at a young age due to family health concerns, I know what hard work is all about. I still am involved in helping and mentoring young folks through employment opportunities.
Union: Do you have any experience managing people, and if so, can you talk about that? Sandquist: Most of my 40 years of healthcare experience was successfully managing people from entry level to professionals. I planned and implemented successful outpatient services such as bariatric surgery, weight management, nutrition and diabetes, wound care and wellness. This required working with a variety of professionals and the public while maintaining tact and composure.
Beasley-Pohren: Most of my job experience has included management and finance positions. I believe this will help me navigate successfully through situations as a County Supervisor.
Adam: I have a farming operation where I manage employees. I’ve built and owned a convenience store in Batavia where I managed employees.
Tedrow: Several employees work for me through Tedrow Backhoe. I have experience managing people.
Union: Do you feel knowledgeable about how the county government is run? And do you possess knowledge in a certain field that would be relevant to performing your duties as supervisor?
Sandquist: There is much misunderstanding about the role of a county supervisor which is set by the state constitution and state law. The board is the general manager for county government and has a role in county taxation and finance. This is greatly affected by the state. In recent years, the state required the county assessor to re-evaluate property throughout the county because the values were too low according to the state. The legislature passes laws, doesn’t fund them and costs are passed to the counties. One example is Mental Health. Legislation has changed three out of the four years I’ve been a supervisor. Last year, the law for Children’s Mental Health was passed with new services required and no funding provided.
My diverse management experience provides a variety of skills in small business, farming and healthcare which gives me the ability to listen first, ask questions and interact in a calm and tactful manner. I use teamwork to get people to work together. One example was getting two different groups of surgeons to work together in order to have enough patients to get the program accredited. Through teamwork and a common vision, the program was a success.
I have the ability to make a vision a reality and am pro-Economic Development. It’s a win for the county tax base, a win for the employers and a win for people who need jobs. I serve on the Workforce Development committee. Attracting people to live and work here strengthens our community. I am interested in looking into affordable housing. As an Early Childhood Iowa board member, I helped obtain funding to increase over 140 child care spaces for new and current home providers and centers in Jefferson County. I helped plan a Food/Ag Bootcamp for over 20 local farmers and small food manufacturers. This was a great first step in learning about all kinds of agriculture and local food with a very diverse group of attendees. One outcome was local farmers and food producers interacting and getting to know each other. This is how change happens and we build bridges between areas in our community. It’s one conversation at a time. There’s still more work to do with this project that would require outside funding.
Beasley-Pohren: I have a good understanding on county government and certain fields such as taxes and agriculture.
Adam: In the business, I have had to work with budgets, cash flows and prioritize where the funds were going to be spent and managed.
Tedrow: I’ve been a county township trustee for 20-plus years. I’m already familiar with how some of the county operates. As a trustee, we oversee cemeteries, managing money for the school district, fire department, mowing and things like that.
In the road department, not that a county supervisor is going to drive a maintainer, but I’d like to help educate new operators. I have been a heavy equipment operator all my life, whether it was running bulldozers for the DOT or stuff I own myself.
Union: Is there anything you hope to change in how the county is run? For instance, are you interested in changing laws related to taxes, zoning, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or mental health services?
Sandquist: Mental Health: I serve on the regional mental health governance board. In the past three years, the state has changed the law three times, required more services with no additional funding. Funding gets passed to the counties. Locally, I’d like to see more communication through social media, radio and print so that area residents know how to access mental health services. For example, there are free services available from mental health funding at Optimae.
Taxes: For fiscal year 2021, the BOS was able to keep the budget to less than a 2% increase. When the state wants more money, it makes changes which generally means less tax dollars for the counties. Next year my supervisor experience will be important because I anticipate cuts due to COVID. One of my committees has been told to anticipate 25% less next year.
Zoning: Jefferson County is one of eight counties in Iowa that do not have zoning. I have no position on zoning and welcome input from residents. The decision would ultimately be decided by the voters.
CAFOs: County supervisors do not have authority which lies with the legislature. It is a huge concern and is tearing this county apart. As with any industry, there are well managed CAFOs and ones that are not. CAFOs are controversial in about half of Iowa’s counties. I think with the recent meat processing crisis some farmers will be looking for alternatives.
Last summer, I invited Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Nag, to Jefferson County to learn about niche pork. He toured two area farms. One was a young producer and one was our farm. He was very appreciative. Niche pork provides a premium price to the farmer and there is a strong domestic market for the product.
Internal county operations. I’d like to improve teamwork, training and hold regular department head meetings with all supervisors attending. We’ve made some progress in Human Resources areas and there’s still more work to do.
One area I want to work on is to work with community partners to provide transitional housing for people who are released from the county jail and have no place to go. When they go to their previous environment, the chance of probation violation is increased which puts them back in jail which costs taxpayers money. This is extremely complex and would involve several agencies working together. It would save money for the county, provide structure and jobs for people trying to get their life on track and provide a much needed workforce for our employers.
I like to listen to residents of the county and welcome your input. Please contact me at --
641-451-1293 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beasley-Pohren: We have roads under construction that have needed repair for some time. I want to continue fixing roads going forward so we can start being proactive instead of reactive. I plan on making that my focus.
Adam: I would like to see the county have a 3-5 year business plan, and contract more of the work out to our local county businesses.
Tedrow: Roads, law enforcement and health are some of the major priorities for the county. This is an ag county, and I am very much for ag, whether we’re talking about confinements for cattle or hogs. If those individuals want to pursue a confinement, and they meet the Master Matrix and Department of Natural Resources state rules that the county doesn’t have a say over, I’m for it. The supervisors don’t have the right to take that away from any farmer because it’s up to the DNR.
I want to continue the policy on allowing four-wheelers on roads. I’m one of those guys who use a four-wheeler a lot on the farm. I know it was allowed before, but now I go farther than I would have in the past.
I’m not coming in there to change the county or to rule, to be the boss. I’m coming in there to better the people and county as a whole.