Rick Larkin: Experience Needed Now
Incumbent Rick Larkin says this is not the time to shake things up on the Lee County Board of Supervisors.
It's safe to say Larkin is a political heavyweight in southeast Iowa.
During his 30+ years of public service, he has served on the Fort Madison City Council, in the Iowa Legislature and on the Lee County Board of Supervisors two different times.
He also heads the Democratic Party in Lee County.
Larkin's latest run on in county government began ten years ago when he was elected to represented District Two, which encompasses most of Fort Madison.
He says he is seeking another four years because he remains interested in government.
"It's a place where you can influence what is going on (and) you can also have an impact on people's lives. Some of the decisions you make (will) make people's lives better. You can help people and do things for people and that is the basic reason why I am running."
Larkin says his most important quality is that there is no learning curve for him when it comes to county government.
"I know how things work in the county and I know how to get things done there."
Larkin says the biggest challenge facing Lee County is the need for more economic development, be it a new industry like Iowa Fertilizer Company or growth in existing businesses.
He says the county can best continue its recent success by continuing to put $200,000+ into the Lee County Economic Development Group each year.
"I know at times, the board has been criticized for putting the amount of money into (the group), but we think over time it will pay off 100-fold."
Larkin says Lee County must also promote the access to an available natural gas line and maintain its economic stimulus fund for smaller, local projects.
Larkin has now voted twice to contribute to Keokuk Area Hospital's effort to clear up past debt.
He says the funding is not supposed to be ongoing, but he understands the need to prevent the facility from closing.
"I am not absolutely ruling out us giving (the hospital) money again, but I really want to see people really work this year, to work themselves out of the financial crisis that they are in."
Larkin says the county needs to continue looking at reorganizing county offices and even consolidating them into one location. He also supports the work of the volunteer group that is looking into the issue.
"I think with this board you may get a fresh look at the process and what consolidation would mean and whether it would be beneficial for the county to do that."
Larkin says if he is given another four year term, he would continue to work on mental health services for residents and to explore possible new homes for the Lee County Health Department and the Lee County Conservation Board.