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Four vie for seat in Martin County District 2

FAIRMONT — Four candidates are running to fill the Martin County District 2 seat left vacant by the death of Tom Mahoney Jr.

Dan Geronsin, Kyle Gustafson, Jamie Bleess and James Forshee are the candidates.

Gustafson grew up in East Chain and graduated from Granada-Huntley-East Chain in 1998. From there, he worked for 10 years as a welder at Kevko Manufacturing, as well as spending eight years as an equipment operator at the Martin County Highway Department, and also as an equipment operator for Center Creek Township. He currently raises more than 9,000 pigs south of Welcome.

Gustafson enjoys living in Fairmont with his wife, Trisha, and their two daughters, Brynn and Carly. He also serves as vice president of the Fairmont Hockey Association.

Gustafson has two primary areas of focus while looking at the county. First, he would like to get rural broadband set up.

“One thing COVID has taught us is we rely more on Internet services,” he said. “Unless you live in a town, sometimes the services are hard to get. I would propose applying for more grants or funding and putting this project out for a bid to get the best deal.

“The second thing I hope to accomplish as a commissioner is to keep our agriculture community thriving and growing. We are very fortunate in the last 10 years to have two ethanol plants and a soybean plant located in this county.

“Just look at the jobs those three area businesses have brought to this area. The way to keep this growing in this area is to work with farmers, local businesses, and see what their needs are for this area. “

Bleess believs it will be important for him to build trust with people in District 2 by encouraging transparency through livestream county board meetings. He is also a proponent of boosting the local economy.

“I’ll push to stimulate economic growth by encouraging businesses to build or expand in Martin County via TIF and tax abatement to broaden our tax base and create jobs,” he said. “I’ll work to keep property taxes low, while supporting collaborative projects that improve the water quality of our lakes. I look forward to being responsive to people and will encourage a culture of quality customer service throughout Martin County government.”

Forshee comes in with previous county experience, having served as the auditor/treasurer for more than 16 years. In addition, he worked at Fairmont Railway Motors/Harsco for 29 years, spent 10 years as an EMT for the Fairmont Ambulance Service, and spent 31 years on the Fairmont Fire Department.

He moved to Fairmont in 1974 and is happily married to his wife, Laurie. The couple have twin sons, Michael and Matthew, and are members of Fairmont United Methodist Church.

Forshee believes he has a finger on the pulse of the county and knows the challenges faced by county commissioners.

“I know the upcoming items that the county is facing, the new justices center, upkeep on county roads and bridges, and economic development,” he said. “As commissioner, I would work with the other commissioners for other ways to fund these projects besides raising the county’s levy.

“I understand the county budget makeup and will work with and support the counties employees in their duties.”

Over several days, the Sentinel tried numerous times to contact Geronsin through voice messages and emails, requesting information for a candidate profile. He did not respond.

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