Jon Zirkelbach, county supervisor Dist. 3

Jon Zirkelbach
Staff report

     In an effort to better inform the voters of Jones County, the Monticello Express conducted separate interviews with both Republican candidates running for Jones County Supervisor in District 3. Both names will appear on the Tuesday, June 5 Primary Election ballot.

     The following are Jon Zirkelbach’s responses.

Town:  Center Junction

Education/family: Zirkelbach graduated from Monticello High School in 1980. After high school, he “went right to work.” He worked for an agriculture cooperative (the predecessor to IAS) for 10 years, and helped local farmers as well.

     After the death of his brother and his father’s retirement, Zirkelbach became a full-time farmer.

     “I’ve been farming since I was 10 years old,” he said.

     He’s owned and operated his own farm and property for 27 years.

     “I’ve learned a lot about life experience, met a lot of people, and have become aware of situations visiting one-on-one with people,” said Zirkelbach. “You get to know people and build relationships and gain customer service skills.”

     Zirkelbach and his wife, Tracy, have been married for 28 years. They have three kids: Gennifer, Nick, and Jacob.

Why should Jones County voters vote for you? Zirkelbach is in the fourth year of his first term as a county supervisor. He said he ran for supervisor the first time because he wanted to be a part of the process.

     “So much goes on in Jones County,” he said.

     Zirkelbach said the experience he’s had the past three and a half years “counts for quite a bit.

     “You’re always learning the process, and it takes a while to get up to speed to know what’s going on,” he said. Zirkelbach spent the year prior to his service attending county board meetings and sitting in on the budget process.

     “I went through my fifth budget this January and February,” he said.

     He also attended Compensation Board meetings before running, as well as other county meetings related to seeking office, to gain experience, and to gain insight into what’s going on throughout the county.

     “In the past three and a half years, I’ve missed three and a half meetings,” he said.

What do you believe are the core responsibilities of being a county supervisor? First and foremost, Zirkelbach said his priority is the citizens of Jones County and their wellbeing.

     “I go to bed at night with concerns weighing on my mind,” he shared. “They’re on my mind all the time.”

     As someone who likes to be “in the know,” Zirkelbach said it allows him to formulate better decisions and answers.

     “I try to be proactive,” he said.

     Serving the most sparsely populated district of the county, Zirkelbach said every inch of Jones County is important to him.

What specific goals do you have in serving the citizens of Jones County? “Jones County has been very good to my family,” said Zirkelbach.

     He said his grandfather came to the area in the early 1900s and worked as a hired hand. He eventually worked his way up to be able to purchase his own farm ground, where he raised his family.

     “We’re all involved in ag in Jones County in one way, shape, or form,” said Zirkelbach of the family legacy. He said he doesn’t want to disappoint those who know the strong family history here. “We have a great reputation in Jones County and I don’t want to disappoint that heritage.”

     Zirkelbach said he wants to take the trust people have in his family and instill that in Jones County.

     “I am fortunate to seek office without an agenda,” he said, “whether my own or someone else’s. I have the genuine desire to serve the folks of Jones County.”

     Zirkelbach said he has nothing to gain from the decisions he makes on the board of supervisors. “I am a Jones County taxpayer, and a lot of taxpayers work for the county.”

     He said he looks at the county as a business, which taxes a certain amount of money to run, as with any business.

     “We can’t run into a deficit,” he said. “We need to fine tune the budget and work within our means.”

     Zirkelbach said it’s always been his goal not to raise county taxes “anymore than absolutely necessary.”

What do you believe are biggest concerns/issues facing Jones County? What are some good things going on throughout the county? Zirkelbach said people here are always aware of the fact that Jones County lies between two urban areas when it comes to business retention, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.

     Zirkelbach’s involvement with the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition has made him more aware of the effects on local young people.

     “We are one big community and we have to take care of our youth,” he said.

     Zirkelbach said his favorite memory in serving as a county supervisor are the times when Head Start brings the young preschool children into the board room every year.

     “I get a kick out of that,” he said.

     A project Zirkelbach would like to get accomplished is a wage/salary study for county employees. “We need to do it right,” he said.

     Zirkelbach feels the supervisors as a whole are fair and balanced. “There is no one with any financial gain based on the decisions that are made,” he said.

     Zirkelbach said he took office with a goal of being transparent. “You shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and share if that’s how you feel. The decisions I make are with input from a lot of folks.”

     Zirkelbach said one good thing going on in the county right now is the lake project at Central Park.

     “We approved the funding for the dredging of the lake, and it’s an improvement project for a county asset.”

     Another quality of life project is Wapsi Trail. Zirkelbach, serving on the committee, helped in securing some funding. “It had to be approved by the board of supervisors to continue,” he said.

     Another county project in Monticello is the new JETS facility.

     “It’s a great plus,” he said. “It’s for the benefit of our transportation service.”

     Zirkelbach said the facility will benefit the population who utilizes JETS, those people who otherwise don’t have the means to get to and from medical appointments. “Folks use that services and won’t know how to get along without it,” he said.

What would be your priorities when preparing the county budget? Zirkelbach said when he first came to the board, he wanted to see the various county departments come to the board with their budgets already prepared.

     “That way they come in and present to us and it’s clear,” he explained.

     Zirkelbach praised the county department heads for doing a great job with their budgets.

     “We have a lot of department heads with years of experience,” he said.

Additional comments: Zirkelbach said his campaign promise is to always be available to all citizens of the county.

     “Four years ago when I had to get the signatures to run, I went to the outlying areas of Jones County,” he said.

     Zirkelbach said he’s always willing to learn, and is proud to have been chairman of the board after two years of service.

     “I am really proud of that,” he reflected.

     Zirkelbach said people are well aware of the ag community and it’s importance to Jones County, “but we can’t discount the cities, either. They pay a lot of taxes.”

     As a county supervisor, Zirkelbach said people trust him, which is another great part of the job.



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