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Lake at Willmar Minnesota

Steve's stand on the issues

"Leaders need a steady temperament and the vision to look past what is to what can be, to achieve 21st Century solutions."
–Steve Gardner–
Steve Gardner for Kandiyohi County Commi
Economic growth and security


It’s vital that Kandiyohi County continue to grow and diversify its economy. 

As I see it, there are two major obstacles we must address:

  • Access to Quality Child Care 

  • Safe, Affordable Housing Options

Until we adequately address these two items, companies will hesitate to locate or expand within Kandiyohi County.

Child Care


According to a 2018 survey here in Kandiyohi County , there is a need for nearly 800 child care openings throughout the County. Some non-profit partners are attempting to fill the gap, but until we fairly value and pay providers and workers in the childcare sector, we will lag in economic growth and stability for our families.

I will work with anyone who wants to seriously address this pressing matter.


The State and Federal governments have largely abdicated their responsibility to local units of government and their citizens by not providing additional funding to maintain our roads and bridges. Without additional funding, we will fall further behind. 


The wheelage tax has helped move some County projects along. It is another tool available to the County, but its impact is somewhat limited. If there is a specific set of projects that we can move forward with some additional funding, I would be open to looking at an increase from $10 to $20 in the wheelage tax.


There is some positive movement thanks to private investors who are creating market-rate rental options in and around Willmar, and the Bethesda North Pointe project in New London will address needs within our senior community there. 

However, vacancy rates are still very tight, and our local jurisdictions including the County need to look at other solutions to build up what has been described as “the missing middle” between subsidized and upscale housing options, by reviewing zoning restrictions (such as parking, lot size and single family zoning), and opening up to new possibilities in housing.

I am eager to work with our local partners to enhance our housing options in Kandiyohi County. My six years on the City of Willmar Planning Commission, including three years as Commission Chair, informs me on these matters and I look forward to bringing my thoughts and expertise forward in this area.


I applaud the efforts of the Board and County Staff to keep levies at a stable and necessary level. While it’s tempting in an election year to advocate for a zero-increase budget, that’s not a responsible position to take. 

By paying close attention to budgeting, keeping proper reserves and doing long-term planning for capital projects, our top bond rating is protected and lowers borrowing costs when bonding is necessary.

Those who think we should shrink the budget below the growth in revenues created by increased property valuations are not actually serious about the long-term sustainability of County finances, instead seeking to create chaos like that seen at other levels of government. This would lead to wild fluctuations from year to year in the taxpayer levy.

Thanks for your support & carrying us to victory in November!

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