FAIRMONT - When Martin County Commissioner Jack Potter announced last spring that he would not seek re-election in District 5, several people stepped up to express interest in the job.
The choice now comes down to the current chairman of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Steve Flohrs of Ormsby, and Northrop resident Keith Hartmann.
"Jack Potter did an excellent job, and I decided to run when he announced he was not going to run again," Hartmann said. "Over the years, I've read the minutes to keep up, can see how it works, who attends. It's an important job, lots of responsibility to the whole county. You make decisions that affect a lot of people."
"I've enjoyed going out and meeting the people. It's been fun," Flohrs said of campaigning. "I tell them I'll represent them well, listen to them and try to solve the problems and get back to them with the result ... There are many topics I have to learn, and it's good to know what people want are concerned about."
Those issues seem to be roads, taxes and drainage tile.
"There's the running the county month by month, day by day," Flohrs said. "Eventually, we will need to address the jail issue, but we also have the continual whittling of the county funds by the state. We have things that are mandated without funds, which leaves us having to raise the levy."
"The grants with the Sheriff's Office, they still have to deal with these things and see what's coming down the line," Hartmann said. "That's more important now with the state and feds, when there's less money coming down the line, making the best decision within each department ... All the departments have a budget and each needs operating money. Those are big decisions after levy and taxes and making sure departments run efficiently."
Both Flohrs and Hartmann have been attending the commission meetings since getting the top votes in the primaries.
"This seems to be a group of commissioners that get along well together. What one doesn't know, another one does, so they rely on each other's expertise," Flohrs said. "I think I would fit in well. They're good listeners and they don't spout off, and I've known most of them for a number of years as a Soil and Water supervisor. I also have a similar disposition."
"It's nice to see that it's a good working group, no tension," Hartmann said. "It seems everyone knows their position and respects the others. They compromise and make the best decisions. Not everyone will be happy, but they make the best decision for the majority."
Both also are impressed with the working relationships the county has with other entities, such as the city of Fairmont.
"One thing I've seen from meetings is that the cities and county work well together," Hartmann said. "They can get the job done. I think that's important for the county as a whole, not just Fairmont."
"The airport commission was interesting because I could see both sides, the money versus what needs to be done," Flohrs said, referring to the county board's decision to give the city $100,000 for airport upgrades.
Both men also farm crops, and Flohrs is a former dairy farmer. Hartmann also works as a seed dealer for Dekalb Asgrow.
"I'm interested in the county commission and what they do," Hartmann said. "My background in education and sales have trained me to be a good listener and how to work with people. You need to be open-minded and make compromises, and make decision based on what's good for the people in the county.
"It will be an enjoyable job to have, talking with the people and representing them," Flohrs said. "This is a great place and we have good hardworking people here."
District 5 covers the northwest corner of Martin County, including Trimont, Ormsby, Northrop and the northwest corner of Fairmont.