MANKATO — Voters in Blue Earth County’s 3rd District don’t have much in the way of public policy issues to differentiate incumbent Mark Piepho from challenger Caroline Wood.
Wood doesn’t have much criticism of the County Board. Indeed, she has a list of things she thinks they’ve done well.
The closest thing to a difference is that Piepho’s list of the board’s accolades is mostly different, reflecting his budget-oriented priorities.
“What I feel passionate about is markedly different,” Wood said.
To summarize: Piepho sees County Board service in economic terms — money saved, and used efficiently — while Wood is most interested in public health, diversity, veterans issues, domestic violence and poverty’s effect on women.
The 3rd District is comprised largely of the semi-rural area surrounding Mankato. Because the district grew quickly over the past decade, it shrunk after redistricting. It ceded part of west Mankato to Will Purvis’ 4th District.
Wood said she decided to run, in part, because the all-male County Board was something of a challenge. During her 12 years in the Air Force, Wood said she didn’t see much female leadership.
Wood believes she is the first woman in the elected membership of Mankato’s Morson-Ario VFW Post 9713.
As a victim of domestic abuse as a teenager, Wood said that issue would also be important to her as a commissioner. She said one in four women are sexually assaulted during college and one in three are victims of domestic violence over their lifetimes.
While the County Board doesn’t typically address issues like domestic violence as a five-member body, commissioners serve on a variety of boards, some of which would be relevant for an expert in domestic violence.
As for Wood’s praise of the County Board, she has four specific areas: