Mahaska County supervisor candidates appeared at a forum Thursday night to answer questions submitted from the public.
Republicans Mark Doland, Willie Van Weelden and Joe Warrick are facing off in the June 3 primary election. Democratic candidate Jeff Foster was invited to participate in the forum; however, he had a prior family commitment. Foster is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Members of the public submitted questions for moderator Dave Krutzfeldt to ask the candidates. Later, a microphone was passed around for audience members to question the candidates.
One popular topic was the candidates' views on the regional airport.
“It's a necessary thing,” VanWeelden said. “It's imperative that the county supports both cities (Oskaloosa and Pella)” that want to build the airport.
“I couldn't support the project with eminent domain,” Doland said. If people are willing to sell their land for airport construction, Doland said he could support the project; however, Doland said he couldn't support it with eminent domain as an option for land acquisition.
“I support the regional airport,” Warrick said.
Warrick serves as the Mahaska County representative on the South Central Regional Airport Agency board.
Warrick said the regional airport would consolidate two current small airports into one larger one that has the room to expand in the future.
The candidates were also asked their thoughts on having a county administrator added to county government.
“That's been thought of before,” VanWeelden said.
It has been part of the question of whether the concept of the county board of supervisors is outdated. It could be compared to the thought of consolidation of counties. Tradition keeps both the concepts of the board of supervisors and Iowa's 99 counties in place, he said.
“I'm open to it” whether it is by the vote of the people or board of supervisor action, VanWeelden said.