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Olson looks to bring change to Wadena County

Heather Olson

Verndale resident, Heather Olson, is the new auditor/treasurer for Wadena County in 2019.

Voters showed their support for Olson, as she came out ahead of Brian Hagen by about 15 percent (2,980 to 2,253.)

Olson expressed excitement Wednesday morning despite only running on a couple hours of sleep.

"I'm very excited," Olson said. "Wadena County is in need of change badly and I'm going to be that change."

Olson said as the outside observer looking in during the last few years, teamwork and transparency were key additions she felt needed to be improved in the position for the benefit of tax payers.

"I think we can have better financials," Olson said. That would help commissioners make better decisions with the county money, she said.

In getting out to knock on doors every other day during the election, Olson said she heard the concern of high taxes. While she doesn't vote on the amount of taxes in the county in this position, she does hope to be able to give commissioners better information in a timely manner for the best outcome.

In taking office in 2019, Olson said she looks forward to showing, "that Wadena County can work together."

Hagen was disappointed in the results after a long night waiting to see the outcome. He congratulated Olson on her win and said she will do well on the accounting side of things for the county. He felt she did a great job campaigning for the job. He did, however, share that voters will likely miss out on someone being able to hold a fire to commissioner's feet.

"What they didn't get (voters) was a conservative voice that would challenge county commissioners," Hagen said. "I have a huge concern over where the county's tax dollars are going."

In his campaigning in the area, Hagen said he heard from county residents concerned about how they were being taxed, particularly those age 25-45, those buying homes, starting businesses, having families.

"That's going to hurt us sooner rather than later," Hagen said.

Hagen has been attending Wadena County commission meetings in recent months and said it was concerning to see a county attorney and county coordinator on hand at each meeting being paid to be there, with very little actual input into meetings. He felt their time could be better spent elsewhere if their skills were not being utilized. He also brought up concerns over county commissioners lack of concern over extra spending during the election, giving the example of the vendor mailing ballots to the wrong locations.

Election results

Auditor Treasurer

Heather Olson: 2,980 58.83 %

Brian Hagen: 2,253 42.96 %