Mower SWCD board seats up for election

Mower County residents concerned about water quality and soil erosion can consider filing for one of three elected seats with the local conservation district.

Now through June 2, individuals can file for election to the position of supervisor on the Mower Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board of Supervisors, a five-member board. Current board members Jim Gebhardt (District 1); Micah Peterson (District 2); and Jon Erichson (District 5) have seats up for election.

Gebhardt and Erichson have four-year terms expiring at the year’s end. Peterson is completing a two-year term for which he was elected after being appointed in 2017 after his predecessor retired and no one filed for election in 2016.

Candidates for the Mower SWCD Board of Supervisors are elected countywide during the general election – Nov. 3 this year – each to a four-year term. Candidates must reside in the district for which they are seeking election.

These districts include the following townships:

·         District 1 –Dexter, Red Rock, Sargeant, Udolpho and Waltham.

·         District 2 – Frankford, Grand Meadow, Pleasant Valley and Racine.

·         District 5 –Austin and Lansing.

Mower SWCD’s Board of Supervisors meets monthly at 8 a.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the SWCD in Austin, 1408 21st Ave. N.W. Business typically includes state grant allocations to landowners; district conservation priorities; coordination with other government units; and legislative priorities.

Mower SWCD also is contracted annually to do the work of the Cedar River Watershed District, which was created in 2007.

Supervisors do not receive a salary but get compensation for attending meetings and expense reimbursements.

Mower SWCD is one of 88 SWCDs in Minnesota, with each governed by an elected board of supervisors. SWCDs are special-purpose units of government that manage and direct conservation programs, such as the state cost-share program.

In Minnesota, SWCDs are a primary source of conservation information, support and program management for landowners and other local units of government. SWCD staffs are the technical experts who understand their specific communities’ needs and help landowners navigate conservation programs from start to finish. SWCD boards set overall policy and long-term objectives for their district as well as work with the local SWCD staff to ensure the implementation of policies and plans.

Funding for SWCDs comes from a variety of sources. Many program administration dollars and funding for landowner projects are state dollars allocated by the Legislature and passed through the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR). General-operating funds are obtained from BWSR, counties, fees for service and grants or partnership agreements with the federal government or other conservation organizations.

Candidates for the Mower SWCD board must complete an affidavit of candidacy form and submit it by June 2 to the Mower County Auditor-Treasurer’s office at the Government Center, 201 First St. N.E., in Austin. There is a $20 filing fee.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Auditor-Treasurer’s office is closed to the public. Individuals, however, may call the Auditor-Treasurer at 507-437-9535 to set an appointment to come file the affidavit of candidacy and pay the filing fee.

Affidavit of candidacy forms also are online at the Minnesota Secretary of State website or the Mower County Auditor-Treasurer’s office, which must receive affidavits of candidacy by 5 p.m. June 2. A notarized affidavit of candidacy can be emailed to [email protected] or faxed to 507-434-2646 to the Auditor-Treasurer. Staff then will call to collect filing fees electronically.

Candidates may withdraw within the filing period or within two days after the filing period ends.

For more on SWCDs, go online at or or contact Mower SWCD district manager Justin Hanson at 507-434-2603, ext. 5, or [email protected].