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Candidates divided on role of commissioner

Washington County Commissioner Lisa Weik responds to a question during an election forum for County Board candidates. Also pictured is Weik's opponent, Kelly Monkman. The two are running for the District 5 seat on the County Board.

The candidates to represent most of Woodbury on the five-member Washington County Board disagree over what a commissioner should do.

Incumbent Commissioner Lisa Weik said it should be treated as a full-time job because of the many local and regional committee assignments commissioners take, in addition to attending weekly County Board meetings.

"If you're going to adequately cover the different committee assignments, then with five commissioners we do pick up a heavier load," Weik said in an interview. She added: "If you're going to be an effective advocate for change, then it is a lot of time."

The issue was raised during a recent county commissioner candidate forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters Woodbury-Cottage Grove.

Monkman said a commissioner's job should be to advise, not micromanage government agencies and boards.

"This position should be an advisory role, not a full-time job," Monkman, a Woodbury businessman, said during the forum. He added that if people want full-time county jobs, they should "stand in line" with an application.

In an interview after the Monday forum, Monkman criticized Washington County commissioners' $52,713 salary and the benefits they receive. He called the Washington County salary and an even larger Ramsey County commissioner salary "insane."

However, Monkman also said he would accept the commissioner salary if elected.

"I'll take it, but it's going to be for a short period of time," he said. "I'm not staying there for life."

Monkman said if elected to this two-year term, he would only run once more, in 2012, when the term will be for four years.

Weik, too, said she would only run once more if she wins on Nov. 2. She was first elected in 2008.

The two are running for the District 5 seat on the County Board.