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Christensen touts experience ‘at the right time’

MITCH CHRISTENSEN

By JOHN RISHEL

jrishel@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — Republican Mitch Christensen, 57, is hoping to turn his experience in the health care industry into his first term as Clinton County Commissioner.

“I am a former veteran, I was a field medic in the army and that is what started me in the health care industry,” Christensen said. “I have over 30 years of health care experience, as a provider, an administrator, and a promoter of health products to help people lead a healthier life. Through that experience, I gained valuable skills that will help me in the commissioner role to give analysis and examining the issues from both sides. Also, in making decisions that benefit the greatest amount of county residents.”

As for his platform, Christensen said he will represent fiscal conservatism and fiscal responsibility.

“I really want to look at broadening our tax base instead of reaching deeper into each individual taxpayer’s pocket. I want to promote development and growth so there are more taxable entities in the community to share the costs of government and these programs. I want to champion the relationship between the government, county employees and our schools, Keystone Central and Lock Haven University.”

According to Christensen, “it seems like each of those entities are working in silos.”

“I want to promote greater communication and greater work between entities, so that we don’t duplicate resources. So if we can combine resources and get greater things done, promoting academic excellence and economic fortune.”

He said he wants the position because he sees great potential and opportunity for Clinton County for growth, both for recreational use and economic.

“The county has resources that most people want. What makes people decide to live here is strong schools, strong employment and the ability to grow. I have three children in KCSD, so I have seen them develop,” he continued. “My oldest is now going away to college. I want to make the county a place where, when he is done, he can come back to and have the opportunity and what he needs to be successful and thrive. That is what everyone should want for the county… growth and opportunity and to be a place where they want to live.”

Christensen said that his experience puts him in the “right place” and makes him the “right choice” for the job.

“My 30 years of experience in health care has involved long range planning, data analysis, communications with community leaders, and that experience will help me make decisions at the government level to benefit all Clinton County residents. There are two sides to every issue. It is critical to do the research and listen to both sides of the story, so that we can make an educated and informed decision. Again, those decisions would benefit the majority of residents. It is always better to make decisions that benefit the many instead of the few.”

According to Christensen, changes need to be made to “remove the many obstacles that prevent development of the county.”

“I have talked to a lot of business owners and I sat on the Wayne Township Planning Commission for multiple years. There are many, many obstacles to development. Whether it is individuals who want to build a home in certain restricted zoning areas, or whether it is businesses that want to expand. I think we really need to take a greater look at the zoning that exists in the county. Sometimes, in some cases, the zoning we have in place is archaic,” he said. “What we really need from the county government side is to encourage the regular townships and zoning boards and planning commissions to work on removing obstacles from development and encourage development, instead of impeding it. The commissioners need to collaborate with the Clinton County Planning Commission and get on the same page, as to what they’re planning to do as an entire county instead of working in silos individually. I talked to a business owner recently that wants to expand but because of zoning, he can’t pass the zoning board… and that is a restaurant situation. We need to look at it like, if you really want to grow economically, we need to provide more opportunity for residents, and more jobs. That is really one thing that definitely needs to change and work harder to promote growth, and remove some of the obstacles.”

The single most important issue facing the county is poverty, according to Christensen.

“Just knowing that of all the Clinton County residents, approximately a third of them are at or below the poverty line… that has to be in the forefront of every decision that county government and the commissioners make”, he said. It has to be a priority item. As different programs come forward, that has to be kept in the forefront.”

Christensen believes that encouraging economic growth can raise county residents out of that poverty level.

“I also know that we have have a school district that is in some fiscal difficulties, and experiencing low academic achievement. We really need to do everything we can, in our power, from a political standpoint and achievement standpoint. We need to support KCSD to raise academic excellence and to raise economic funding, so that they are not millions of dollars in debt and we can offer greater opportunities,” he said. “As a commissioner, I would also want to continue promoting our eco-tourism. Speaking with many residents, it is an area that the residents support as well.”

He said that he wants to continue promoting events and attractions such as the Boulder Beast, the Hyner Trail Challenge, the ATV trails up in Western Clinton County, and the Bald Eagle Valley Trail that we just finished.

“These are programs the residents support and want to be a part of and that they can be proud of. It also brings a lot of economic prosperity to our region as well,” he explained. “People that need to find food, find lodging, and spend their money here in the county. This area is an area where… I know friends and colleagues who live in New York, New Jersey, and the hectic places… they will pay top dollar to come to Clinton County and experience the resources that we have. From fishing, hunting, trails, kayaking. These are the things that we build and prosper and use to stimulate growth.”

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