ST. CLOUD -- There are three names on the primary ballot for Stearns County Commissioner in District 4.

One of the names is Jeff Johnson of St. Cloud. He spent eight years on the city council and also served on the Area Planning Organization.

Johnson says public safety is his top issue.

Looking at the riots that occurred down in Minneapolis and the two little mini riots in St. Cloud I'm very concerned about public safety and I'm concerned about adequate funding for law enforcement.  One of the questions I'm now asking myself, is the Stearns County Sheriff's Office prepared for a full-scale riot?

Johnson says communication with other area law enforcement agencies is critical.

He says with the county now participating with the newly formed Regional Airport Authority the focus needs to be on getting the St. Cloud Regional Airport to start operating in the black.

I think we need to look at things just beyond airline service.  A lot of industrial airports have manufacturing businesses that are either on the airport, they are employees, or use aircraft to transport parts.

Johnson says he also wants to work on improving the area business climate which he calls "hostile and ice cold" in terms of barriers to success.

He says in order for the Northstar Commuter Rail line to be a success there needs to be a culture shift in terms of the acceptance of using public transportation.

I don't think it really has happened here like it has overseas.  Also, you have to have heavy ridership and usage and I still don't see that happening.  So the big concern I have is you get it to St. Cloud, but it's going to be perpetually funded by the taxpayers.

There has been renewed interest in recent in by local state lawmakers to get the funding to extend Northstar from Big Lake up to St. Cloud.

Johnson also says refugee resettlement remains a concern for him, especially because it does affect the county's budget.

This week we have been hearing from all three of the candidates running for Stearns County Commissioner in District 4. The district includes southeast St. Cloud, St. Augusta, Lynden Township and Fair Haven Township.

Absentee voting is going on right now for the August 11th primary. The top two vote getters will advance to the general election in November.

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