Mike A. Nielsen

Mike A. Nielsen
Candidate for: Bonner County Commissioner

Age: 61
City of residence: Coolin (Priest Lake)
Years of residence in Bonner County and Idaho: 15
Marital status/family: Married to Annina, two sons Michael (USCG), Robert (USMC)
Contact information:
    Cell: 946-7664
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Website: MikeForBonner.org
Education: BS Degree – Criminology

Recent or pertinent employment history

Public offices held: None

Relevant professional affiliations:

Nonprofit groups or service organizations to which you belong:

Relevant experience:

Why are you running for public office?
I’m running for County Commissioner because there are troubling issues that need to be addressed in our county government. This includes the trampling of residents’ property rights, the wasting of taxpayers’ money on projects that are “nice to have” but not necessary, and the poor planning and processes that have and will result in increased costs and increased taxes to pay for these mistakes.

If you are elected, how much time will you spend each week in the office?
Based on what I now know of Bonner County Government, I plan to spend at least 40-60 hours a week working on the County’s business. The first 6-12 months may require more effort. I believe in the business model of “management by walking around” and will be in the field as well as in the office during my tenure. 

Describe the top three to five issues you believe are most important, why you consider them most important, and your position on these issues.

  1. Our residents need good jobs and we need to encourage business employers to create more jobs in Bonner County. County leadership must work closer with local businesses and the Bonner County Economic Development Council (BCEDC) to provide economic opportunities and incentives, and support the Incubation Program. County leadership should facilitate coordination with State and Federal Government agencies to develop more local employment and services, including the airport and broadband.
  2. The county must find a quality solution for housing juvenile offenders that Bonner County taxpayers can afford.  The current deplorable situation is not acceptable and creates too great of a liability for the County. We need a full examination and discussion on the alternative option (e.g., transporting juveniles to Kootenai County) showing all direct and indirect cost savings as well as expenses for using Kootenai County’s Facility. This discussion must consider the impact of jobs lost in Bonner County, as well as the cost of the time lost for officers to transport the juveniles to Kootenai County. In the final analysis, I believe we will find it is in our best interest to build a modest facility here in Bonner County. Pursuant to this conclusion, we need a completed staff study for the proposed facility based on the minimum scale/size necessary. We need to retain a qualified architect working for our County’s interest, to determine the basic needs, and develop a written program including plans for future expansion. There needs to be a competitive bid process to select a qualified contractor, rather than using the same firm for all projects as has been done in the past. If we decide to build, the Reserve Funds must be considered to help pay for the Juvenile Detention Center to reduce financing costs and alleviate the burden on taxpayers.
  3. We need to develop a Strategic Interoperable Communications Plan for Bonner County that serves the actual needs of our public safety agencies. Of the 23 local public safety agencies operating in Bonner County, only one has claimed a desire to switch to the 700 MHz band. The 700 MHz system has been promoted to the public as a panacea, but it actually creates more problems than it solves. The major problems with 700 MHz are (1) the initial costs (which are at least three to four times more expensive than a VHF system), and (2) the continuing tax burden of yearly maintenance and operations (M&O) costs. The 700 MHz system would remove interoperability (compatibility) away from Bonner County Fire, EMS, SAR, all federal agencies, the three surrounding counties and our Sheriff’s office which recently decided to switch to VHF also. Modern technology could connect the disparate radio band systems using electronic bridges, but that significantly increases the costs and reduces the reliability of the system as well. We would need numerous towers (6-12) to serve all of Bonner County on 700 MHz. The money spent on just one tower for the 700 MHz system could be used instead to correct all the problems of the existing VHF towers which are currently in use countywide.

What differentiates you from other candidates? Why should people vote for you?
I am a problem-solver rather than a politician. I agree to represent the will of the people and strive to achieve positive outcomes through mutual cooperation and respect, while engaged in open and fully informed discussions. Honor and integrity are the most important principles that will guide my actions. I will not participate in meetings held behind closed doors as has been the past practice which violates the Idaho Open Meeting Law. I will not circumvent the will of the people, or raise taxes without the consent of the majority of the taxpayers, except in obedience to a court order.

I bring a unique combination of professional education and training, coupled with more than 25 years of progressively responsible paid leadership experience in planning and budgeting at the command and staff level in municipal administration. I also have many more years of experience in all public safety disciplines than the other candidates. I have a proven track record of managing budgetary issues with integrity during difficult economic times. I appreciate, understand, and respect the proper “processes” required to make good government work for the people.