Meet the candidates —Howard County Supervisor hopefuls

Four able locals are vying for two seats on the Howard County Supervisor board. In District 2, Joe Pisney is taking on incumbent Don Burnikel, while in District 3 James Kitchen is challenging incumbent Jan McGovern.

Polls will be open on Nov. 4 from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Look for polling places above the sample ballots on page 11.
On Wednesday, Nov. 5 check out to find the winners. Or check out next week’s paper.

The Lime Springs Herald asked all candidates the same set of questions. To be fair, their answers will start with District 2 and then alphabetically by candidates’ last name. Firstly they were asked to give a little information about themselves. What motivates you to want to become a supervisor? What particular skills or experiences qualify you to serve as a supervisor? What do you think are the two top issues facing Howard County in the next four years and how would you address them?

Don Burnikel (Dem)-District 2

I was born and raised in Howard County. I have been married to my wife Pam Burnikel for 45 years in June. We have four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I farmed for 25 years and now work at SMI Pallet Division and have for 20 years. I also managed the family partnership for 15 years. I am certified in lean manufacturing and International Standards of Operations.

I serve on several boards in Northeast Iowa they are: Howard County Economic Development; Howard County Conservation Board; Cresco Industrial Development Commission; HAWC-Howard, Allamakee, Winneshiek, Clayton County Child Empowerment Board; Northeast Iowa Behavioral Health; Local Housing Trust; and County Store Board.

My motivation to be a supervisor is to keep improving our infrastructure in our county, such as roads, bridges, county parks and bike trails. The last few years, we have built six new roads and built or improved 27 bridges and culverts. We also have a new campground and fish ladder at Vernon. There has been major improvements at Lake Hendricks Campground, Lidtke Campground, Florenceville Park and Bonair Shooting Range. We have also been improving and extending our numerous bike trails throughout the county.

If re-elected I will strive to improve our infrastructure, which in my opinion leads to economic development, which to me is very important to our county.

People who are looking at our county to work and live want a broad spectrum of opportunities, which I will continue to strive for. I have been very fortunate to work with such dedicated and talented people that work so hard for our county. They are the backbone of our county and I am very proud of them.

I think my skills that qualify me to be your supervisor is spelled out in my earlier list, but also in my seven years experience as your supervisor and the things that have been accomplished.

It would be difficult to pick just two top issues that we need to focus on. There are several but I feel our infrastructure and economic development would be at the top of my list.

I feel improving our infrastructure leads to sound economic development. We have a very active economic development board; they work very hard to expand existing businesses and bring new businesses to our county.

I am proud to be on this board, we have great people working hard to improve our county.

Thank you for your support. Don Burnikel, 2nd District Supervisor

Joe Pisney (Rep)-District 2

My name is Joe Pisney, and I’m running for county supervisor District 2. I’ve live in Howard County my whole life, except for the four years I spent in the Army.

My family and I live on the family farm, north of Lime Springs. I’ve been married to Luann for 24 years. We have seven children; Trevor (23), Sammi (20), Sarah (19), Shannon (15), Shelby (12), Trent (11) and Tyler (eight). Let’s not forget Leyton, Josh and the newest member, our grandson, Liam.
I’ve worked at Featherlite at Davis Corners the past 12 years, and we also have 120 beef cows.

What motivates me to become a supervisor is I just decided I wanted to get more involved in my community. I’m like a lot of other people in the county. I want to know where my tax money goes and for what. There’s a lot of things going on in Howard County, and I’ve heard from a lot of people. I think they are ready for a change.

I really don’t feel you need any particular skills or experiences to be a supervisor. I mean, it’s more of a learn-as-you-go type job. They don’t teach this kind of stuff in high school or college.

I am a person who’s not afraid to voice my opinion and do what is right. People want someone in office who will listen and get the things done that need getting done.

There are always going to be the road issues. I always hear we need better rock on the gravel roads. I really don’t know what the next big road project is, but it was nice to see the road from Cresco to Lime Springs and Lidtke Mill Bridge done.

We got jobs in our area. We just need people to fill them. We need to think of ways to attract people to move to our communities, so our communities and our schools can benefit from it.

There are several smaller issues people have asked me about that I’d like to look into also.

Questions and comments? Feel free to call me at 563-203-1407.

James Kitchen (Rep)-District 3

Good day everyone. I have lived in Howard County my entire life, except while I was in college. Currently I live at rural Chester.

I am the owner/operator of Kitchen Construction since 1988, which is a heavy equipment company. We work with farmers and cities with their building of roads and water and sewer systems. We erect wind turbines and solar array systems.
I am a Crestwood High School graduate, have degrees in Ag business and powerline and am an asbestos inspector/contractor.

I am married to Kimberly. We have four children, Lindsey, Dana, Laura and Harry. I am a member of the United Methodist Church, am a Howard-Winn school board member, help and support Boy Scouts, coach youth sports and am a Lime Springs/Chester Fish and Game Club member.

I want the public to be informed so as to be able to measure the results of the money the county spends. I will promote innovators and entrepreneurs—”Income and job creation.” I will help oversee economic development in the county. Howard County needs to be on the front lines at the state level.

I want to be in the know with what is going on in the county, by many lines of communication. You and the rest of the public need to be informed, so you can make informed decisions about how the county is doing. I feel all stake holders need to be informed in terms that can be understood and measured.

Particular skills or experiences qualifying me to serve as supervisor include being positive and able to harness the energy in the community. I can make decisions based on merit, need and community support. I want transparency. I will be in the know with current issues. I want to open doors to opportunities. I will look at cost benefit analysis. I will set the tone and give a positive attitude for the county’s employees. Trust but confirm. Enjoy Life!!

The top two issues facing Howard County in the next four years and how would I address them include roads, bridges, taxes and attracting industry to the county. I would address these issues by holding the supervisors themselves responsible for informing the public about all issues that come before the board to the point that the public will be able to measure the results of the money that the county spends. I will make decisions based on merit, need and the community’s support.

A good share of our gravel roads are in poor condition. I will question the road maintenance program including the dollars spent, the quality and grade of rock being used and the width of roads.

The county needs to be positive and attractive to draw industry, families, income and job creation. I will harness the energy in the community. I choose to grow together versus grow apart.

Please vote for Jim Kitchen Howard County Supervisor District 3, on November 4th, 2014

Visit my website at

Thank you. Looking forward to work for you!

Jan McGovern (Dem)-District 3

I have lived in Howard County for 44 years. My husband, Terry, and I both graduated from Riceville Community High School. We raised our five children on a farm a few miles from Riceville. We are both members of Immaculate Conception Church in Riceville.

For 12 years I was a director for Riceville Community Pre-School. I also worked for the local veterinarian clinic, the Riceville Sale Pavillion , Wee Care Day Care and as an aide at the Riceville High School.

I previously have served on the Riceville Community School Board (last two years as Board President), the Iowa Federal Judicial Commission and the Iowa Volunteer Commission.
As your County Supervisor, boards I currently serve on are: Region 1 Transportation; Northeast Iowa Resource, Conservation and Development; Turkey River Watershed Authority; Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC); UERPC Executive Board; UERPC Revolving Loan Fund Board; UERPC Housing INC; Turkey River Watershed Infrastructure Board; Howard County Enterprise Zone Board; and the Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed Management Board. I am also active on the Riceville Area Economic Development Board.

I want to continue to be a County Supervisor because I know that government, for better or worse, has a direct influence on our lives and I want to help that be a positive influence.
My experience includes serving 16 years as Third District Howard County Supervisor. Experience does make a difference. It takes a couple of years to become adequately familiar with the “ins and outs” of the county budget and its many policies. In addition, all the other boards that we serve on have different budgets and policies. It takes attendance at many meetings and vigorous study to be an effective member of each board.

An important issue facing Howard County is the continuing need for economic development. We need to be aggressive in the effort to increase our population and the labor pool. We also need to entice those who have moved away to come back to Howard County.

The various boards I represent are all working to enhance the quality of life within our county by addressing conservation practices, water quality improvement, flood control, housing needs, new trails, public health needs, public safety and the list goes on and on. Along with Howard County Business and Tourism, these same various boards together offer over 16 different funding opportunities to help start or expand a business in Howard County.

Our county has made great strides in its economic standing as evidenced by an upgrade in Standard and Poors Rating for Howard County in December of 2013 from an A+ to an AA- rating .
What I consider another important issue the county is dealing with is the ever present road and bridge replacement\repair needs.

Because of those needs, our Board of Supervisors asked the rural voters during the last election (2012) to vote to change the Local Option Sales Tax language from “75 percent for rural property tax relief” to “75 percent for secondary roads.” The 20 percent allocated for Economic Development and five percent for Libraries was to stay the same. The rural voters elected to pass this change in every precinct. This has generated approximately $350,000 more per year which has been spent solely on additional rock for our 625 miles of gravel roads.
We have 208 bridges (over 20’ long) and hundreds of culverts and smaller water crossings. Most of these bridges were not built to accommodate the heavy farm equipment and heavy trucks that are now used in farming. With only enough bridge funding available to repair\replace one bridge per year, we are in a constant state of playing catch–up.

Our board is presently addressing this issue through the use of Tax Increment Financing of our wind towers. Over the next two years, we hope to repair\replace up to 18 bridges throughout the county.

An issue that the public is usually concerned with is transparency or openness in government. Shortly after I became a supervisor, our board changed our agenda to allow public comment during the first 15 minutes of our weekly Monday meeting. You do not need to be on the agenda to speak and you can talk about any issue that is of concern to you. How many other counties, cities or school boards allow that?

Also, when we hold our budget hearings, copies of the entire budget are provided to each individual who attends and questions are encouraged.

If you are unable to attend our meetings or hearings, we are also available by phone or email. My home phone is 641-985-2203 and my email is


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