Supervisor makes his case for Holthaus
I strongly endorse Rick Holthaus for Chickasaw County Supervisor, District 1. This endorsement is based on several years of working with Rick, first when I was high school principal in the late 1990s when Rick was on the New Hampton Board of Education, and now as fellow members of the Board of Supervisors. Rick and I were both elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. Rick has performed very effectively over these past eight years and the residents of the County have benefitted from his service on the Board. These have not been easy years for the Board of Supervisors. We’ve faced several significant challenges. Without Rick’s steady and thoughtful leadership, the County would not be in the relatively healthy status it currently enjoys. Many if not most of these years, Rick served as Chairman of the Board.Two examples follow. Although not especially comfortable to talk about, when the County was faced with the threat of potentially high cost lawsuits regarding the Price Wildlife Habitat Area, Rick led the way through the process of resolving the issues by working with the County Attorney’s Office and by helping to facilitate the sale of the Area to various adjacent landowners. For too many years, not enough had been done to address the underlying concerns regarding the Area. By the time Rick and I joined the Board, too much had happened to allow us to continue to maintain the Area. The Board was able to avoid the high costs of defending the County in court as well as avoiding the costs that would have been incurred if the County would have tried to undertake the task of addressing the underlying issues about the Area.A second substantial challenge was addressed by the Board of Supervisors under Rick’s strong leadership in 2013 when the County faced a significant financial crisis that arose from the nature and structure of the self-funded employee health insurance program. While it is true that, in hindsight, the Board should have foreseen the crisis coming sooner—perhaps by understanding better the way the existing health insurance plan was put together and the extreme risk we had taken on—at the front-end of the crisis we thought that we could overcome the challenges by continuing on the path that had been set by preceding Boards. That was not to be. The self-funded health insurance structure that we inherited from previous Boards, although partly protected by re-insurance, was still tremendously risky. That pre-existing structure could not withstand the expenses associated with the occurrence of several very high claims suffered by the participants in the program especially when coupled with the fact that the re-insurers could “laser” individual claimants for which the County would be responsible for higher limits than for regularly insured employees. In other words, for “regular” insureds, after $45,000 of claims were reached, the reinsurance “kicked in.” However, for those individuals who were “lasered” by the re-insurance carrier, instead of being responsible for just the first $45,000, the County in some cases was responsible for the first $125,000 for these individuals. And this could, and did, happen multiple times in that given year, thus rather quickly depleting the health insurance reserves.Rick, probably before all of the rest of us, realized that we needed to move in a different direction. Rick did the research, Rick made the contacts, and Rick “discovered” the path to a better situation for the County and for the employees. Although the transition from one method of providing health insurance to another had its challenges, an effective mutually acceptable solution was found. Rick was the chief “discoverer” of that path, at least for us. Through Rick’s leadership, the County now has substantial health insurance reserves with much less financial risk. Rick has consistently demonstrated leadership in the other “content areas” in which the Board operates. He leads the way in the area of mental health in his service on the County Social Services (CSS) board of directors. Rick responsibly represents the County through his service on the Heartland (Liability Insurance) Risk Pool which requires clear thinking and sound judgment as various counties’ liability claims are discussed, evaluated and either paid or not paid. He has become very knowledgeable about the issues in the three watershed management areas that have been formed that affect Chickasaw County—the Upper Cedar River, the Turkey River, and the Upper Wapsipinicon River Management areas. Rick has taken the lead in becoming knowledgeable about animal confinement systems that affect not only the economic destiny of Chickasaw County but also the quality of water that residents and visitors to the county consume and that affect people downstream.Another of Rick’s strong suits is his command of the County budget. Rick is probably the most knowledgeable person by far with respect to the operational aspects of the County budget. His previous experience with private and governmental budgets has been useful—from his early years as a Farm Bureau member, to his several years on the New Hampton Community School District Board of Directors and now with Chickasaw County—and he uses that information effectively to help the County stay on track with respect to its budgets.Rick has consistently demonstrated an exceedingly high level of commitment to the County. Rick puts in more hours doing his “supervisor work” than any other member of the Board of Supervisors. Most people generally know that Supervisors get appointed by the Board to serve on various committees that have to do with County business. Rick goes above and beyond those areas for which he is responsible and he becomes knowledgeable about a variety of other areas as well—each of which takes time AND thoughtful attention. Rick does his homework.Rick is known by other supervisors in surrounding counties as a hard-working, thoughtful, and detail-oriented supervisor. He comes well-prepared to meetings and he is not shy about sharing his well-thought out perspectives on the issues that the County (and the State of Iowa) face as these governmental entities seek to provide for the common good, the general welfare, and public safety.Perhaps there are others “out there” who have as much knowledge as Rick has with respect to the various kinds of topics and issues and “situations” that supervisors are expected to have knowledge of—and I haven’t even mentioned the area that most supervisors spend most of their time responding to—the work of the County Roads Department—but I feel very comfortable saying that no one can match Rick’s work ethic. When he commits to playing a role such as a member of the Board, he’s “all in.” Rick establishes high standards for his own performance and he has consistently demonstrated that he’s not satisfied when he feels that he falls short of these personal standards.Please vote for Rick Holthaus for Supervisor, District 1. You may not agree with Rick 100% of the time, but Rick will give the job his best effort all of the time if elected as Supervisor. Because Rick is running as an independent, and not as a Democrat or Republican, even if you vote a Straight ticket, you MUST find the County Supervisor portion of the ballot and you must mark the ballot for Rick Holthaus.