Becker County Board District 2: Walz concerned about county turnover, spending decisions
"Losing employees at such a shocking rate signals serious concerns about the work environment ... With my management experience, I think that maybe I’ll save the taxpayers some money.”
DETROIT LAKES — Steve Walz lives on West Lake Drive and said he got interested in running for Becker County Board because of the way the West Lake Drive Project was handled.
But he is also concerned about the state of labor-management relations in county government, and believes he can use his people and business skills to make the situation better.
Walz, 56, is sales manager at Webber Family Motors, where he has worked for the last 10 years. He was born in Detroit Lakes, moved to Littleton, Colo., when he was young, and moved back to Detroit Lakes in his early 20s, after four years in the Navy.
“The biggest thing that got me to run was the way the West Lake Drive project has gone,” he said. “It’s been a little frustrating – I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring on that.”
But he is concerned about employee turnover at the county. “I have learned in my 20-plus years in management that every organization or business is only as good as its employees,” Walz said. “Finding and training employees is difficult and expensive, leading to inefficiencies and impacting the county’s ability to conduct critical services. Losing employees at such a shocking rate signals serious concerns about the work environment ... With my management experience, I think that maybe I’ll save the taxpayers some money.”
Walz, who is single, with four grown children, has deep roots in the area. His mother, Donna, came from the well-known Foltz family of Callaway, and his father, Lowell Walz, came from the Mahnomen area, he said. “When I first moved back here, I started working for Foltz Buildings,” he said. “I started in the car industry with Audubon Auto,” before joining Webber as a sales associate.
“I know a lot of people in town,” he said. “I have connections through family, and you get to know a lot of people in the car business.”
After employee retention, Walz said his second priority is county spending decisions. “The large payouts given to those opposing the West Lake Drive project was, I believe, fiscally irresponsible,” he said. “Those dollars would have been much better spent on employee retention.”
A third priority for Walz is affordable housing. “This is critical to assure responsible growth,” he said. “I would get involved and educated on what is driving up housing costs. While I understand that much of the construction costs are inflation-driven, reviewing costs driven by county-controlled decisions will help identify what we can do as a board for some immediate relief. Additionally, I would research tax incentives for affordable housing, and possibly identify zoning districts to encourage affordable developments.”
He says there are no issues with election integrity in Becker County. “Having family members having served as election judges, I believe the county manages elections well,” he said. “As a county, our job is to follow election laws currently in place, and I will continue to support the county’s efforts in doing so … I will do everything I can to encourage our state legislators to ensure that Minnesotan’s civil rights are protected.”