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Three file for auditor-treasurer spot

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

For the first time in quite a few years, there will be a primary race for the auditor-treasurer position in Becker County.

Three candidates have filed for the position and will battle it out in the Aug. 12 primary election for the two seats that move on to the general election in November.

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Candidates include Darin Halvorson, Mary Hendrickson and Brant Mouw. Each was asked the same questions. Here are their responses, listed alphabetically. 

Darin O. Halvorson

Darin O. Halvorson, 47, has one son, Chase Halvorson, 25. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Minnesota State University Moorhead, and has worked as the Becker County accountant for the past 22 years.

Please provide job history relevant to the Auditor-Treasurer’s position and any other information you would like voters to know about your background, such as hobbies or membership in professional or volunteer organizations.

I was born and raised in Fargo, N.D., and for the past 25 years have enjoyed raising my family in Detroit Lakes. I am one of five children and am thankful to my parents for instilling in me a strong work ethic.

Besides working at Becker County, I also own and manage rental properties in Detroit Lakes and Moorhead, and I’m a member of the Lake Detroiters Association to help protect our lakes against invasive species. In my free time I enjoy playing basketball, volleyball and softball with other members of the community.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

I have a vast amount of knowledge and experience of the Auditor-Treasurers Office because I’ve been working there for the past 22 years preparing financial statements, tax statements, truth & taxation notices, tax distributions, county-wide payroll, elections, budget preparations and improving operations.

If elected, I plan on continuing to perform these functions to save the county the costs to replace my position. Fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers is a high priority for me.

What is working well in the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office now and what changes do you think are needed?

The personalities and characteristics of the team in the Auditor-Treasurer’s office work well together. Whether collecting taxes, registering voters, or providing excellent customer service, the general public can count on our staff to handle their questions. I am very proud to be part of the team.

The changes I would like to make would be to enhance computer technology of the office and to automate internal procedures, which would then improve the overall efficiency to better serve the public.

What are your strong suits?

My strengths include being able to lead, strong integrity and experience. I am able to communicate well with the commissioners, departments and other government agencies to provide the best possible financial management and information.

What are your weak suits?

I realize sometimes I need to be more patient when the wheels of government turn slowly.

Mary Hendrickson

Mary Hendrickson, 55, has been married 30 years to Harlen Hendrickson. She has a high school education and has been working for the county for 27 years. Her current job title is deputy auditor-treasurer.

Please provide job history relevant to the Auditor-Treasurer’s position and any other information you would like voters to know about your background, such as hobbies or membership in professional or volunteer organizations.

I am a lifetime Becker County resident, member of Holy Rosary Church and secretary of local chapter of MN Waterfowl Association for 12 years. My hobbies include gardening, fishing and making jam and jelly.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

Experience; serving as acting auditor-treasurer; seven years in treasurer’s office; 13 years in auditor’s office; seven years in auditor-treasurer’s office; deputy auditor since 1994; deputy auditor-treasurer since 2007; certified in Elections & Tax Calculation; committees: Finance, Natural Resources, Equalization Board, and Canvassing Board.

What is working well in the Auditor-Treasurer’s Office now and what changes do you think are needed?

What is working well? We have been able to meet state deadlines and serve the taxpayers. What changes are needed? Due to a retirement and two resignations, we are understaffed.

What are your strong suits?

Strengths: leader, dedicated, knowledge of county government, optimist, team player.

What are your weak suits?

Weakness: Learning the accounting software.

Brant Mouw

Brant Mouw, 39, is married to LeAnn, who has worked for Essentia Health St. Mary’s for 15 years, and they have two children — Carter, 7, and Morgan, 2. He has lived in the county for more than nine years.

Please provide job history relevant to the Auditor-Treasurer’s position and any other information you would like voters to know about your background, such as hobbies or membership in professional or volunteer organizations.

I have two kids, which is why I’m running for Auditor-Treasurer. As they are now getting older and more involved in the community, I would like to work in the same community I (live) so I can be more involved in the community and their activities.

I am involved in the community now. My family attends First Lutheran Church, and I am active in the Curling Club in Detroit Lakes, where I enjoy volunteering my time and talents.

I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bemidji State University. While in my senior year there, I was elected the Accounting Club President, where, among other things, we provided free tax help to the community and university students.

While at Bemidji State I also received minors in Business Administration and Data Processing. I started course work towards my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Mary. I’ve taken the CPA exam, however I’m not a CPA. I never had a desire to have my leg chained to a desk from Jan. 1 to April 15. My time as the Accounting Club President running the free accounting clinic taught me that much.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

After college I spent 10 years developing, then later managing, the development of financial and accounting software for the insurance and banking industries. I created specialized financial software for 401k, roth and traditional IRA retirement accounting systems, ATM banking, Internet Banking, ACH/Wire Transfers, Proof and check clearing, including automating the processing those transactions into the General Ledger and preparation of financial statements.

More recently I’ve spent the last six years in a Senior Program Manager role. Currently, I’m employed by VMC Consulting. My current contact has me working at Microsoft for the last year. I support them in a Senior Program Manager capacity.

In these program manager roles, I’ve been accountable for multimillion dollar budgets and projects. I have managed direct reports of up to 50 people and project teams as large as 150 people. In these roles, I was accountable for budgeting, production planning, source, vendor and contract management, staffing, resource, communication plans, risk management, quality improvement planning, training, delivery schedules, and complying with TS and ISO documentation requirements.

I hold a professional certification with the Project Management Institute (PMI) as a Project Management Professional (PMP). The PMP designation is recognized globally and requires passing a certification exam, in addition to project management experience and formal project management training and requires continuing education to stay current in the certification.

This designation ensures a structured approach to business processes is followed. It also ensures knowledge of Leadership Tools and Techniques, Information Management, Negotiating, Contract types, Risk management, Problem Solving, and multiple other business disciplines.

What are your strong suits?

I think my consulting experience and PMP approach and certification can be a great benefit to the county. As an “outsider” to the county’s business, I feel I can bring a structured approach and fresh perspective to the county and their business processes.

In addition, I feel my educational and accounting and technology background would be a perfect fit for the role of Auditor-Treasure.

What are your weak suits?

(No answer was provided.)

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.

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