A retired banker is running for the Charlotte County Commission against incumbent Stephen R. Deutsch.
Kristen Hansen filed for the 2022 race with the county Supervisor of Elections as a Republican candidate in District 4.
Deutsch said he intends to announce his candidacy soon, which means there will be a Republican primary in 2022.
Hansen, originally from the Boston area, has lived in Charlotte County much of the last 20 years.
“When I retired from banking, I wanted to do something for the community that I love so much,” she said.
Growing up in Massachusetts, Hansen said she was a Democrat — until her son told her she wasn’t.
“He says, ‘You’re a Republican and you don’t even know it,’” she said with a laugh.
Supporting Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign turned her political.
She realized if she wanted to make a difference, she needed to run for office. With her background in banking and business, she decided the County Commission was the right place.
“I just feel like it’s time for some fresh blood in there, and I want to get involved. I think it would be a good fit,” she said.
Hansen considers herself a Constitutionalist, believing in following the U.S. Constitution strictly. She believes mask mandates violate constitutional rights, and is critical of Deutsch’s vote last year in favor of a mandate.
“I think people are adults, and they should be able to make their own decisions,” she said.
The mandate failed as Deutsch and Commissioner Chris Constance, a doctor, were outvoted 3-2. A few weeks later, the board approved a mask resolution “requiring” masks, but not mandating them.
Hansen said she was not happy with that vote either, as it placed pressure on businesses to require masks. She also described herself as “not a vaccine person.”
But criticizing the commission is not something she wants to dwell on. She has not walked in their shoes, she said.
She said her opponent is well known in the county.
“What I have heard is, it will be a tough fight,” she said.
Deutsch has been re-elected to the commission twice, and served in the Rhode Island’s Senate and House in the 1980s.
Hansen said she is well known among the county’s small businesses. She is the local manager of Labor Finders, helping local businesses find staff.
As a banker, she said, she was often called on to fix problems in local branches.
“They called me the fixer. They’d bring me into banks that were not doing well.”
A command of finance would be a contribution to the county, she said, and help the county avoid making decisions she consider bad — such as the purchase of Murdock Village land about 20 years ago. The land was not developed until recently, leaving taxpayers carrying the debt.
None of the current commissioners were elected at that time.
“There’s things like that that are very wasteful,” she said.
Hansen said she also wants to ensure accuracy in news media while in county government. She said she does not trust media.
“I would like to make sure that our media is informing our residents of important issues and being fair, and honest and accurate.”
Hansen also lives in an area of the county targeted by the county for replacement of old septic systems with sewers, paid in large part by the homeowners of those systems. Many residents in these areas have been angry with the current board decisions pursuing projects that previous boards chose not to pursue.
But Hansen said that is not a reason for running.
“I don’t like it personally,” she said of septic conversions. “But I can’t vote on things because of my personal feelings.”