Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 16, 2000

Profiles of candidates for city council in Winsted

Two persons will be elected Nov. 7 for four-year terms.


Jeff Albers

Family background:

Age 37, two children: Rebecca, age 7, and Katie, age 3. I am a lifelong resident of Winsted. Occupation: insurance agent for Farm Bureau Financial Services.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

The single most important issue to me is growth of our community. We need to promote residential growth, as well as industrial growth, while at the same time making sure our infrastructure is able to handle the increased need for services. Also, making sure any industry coming to our city would not pose hazards to our citizens.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

I am in favor of the location near Winsted. Having a state-of-the-art high school so near our community is an excellent way to promote residential growth.

What do you plan to change once elected?

I don't believe I would change anything, but rather, continue down the path we set these past two years, which is to improve our community by upgrading infrastructure and providing services to our citizens in a prudent manner.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

We should take a close look at all areas of the city budget and make as many slashes as we can without adversely affecting services provided to our community.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

It's unfortunate that the city hall building is in the condition it is. No one likes to see historical landmarks demolished. My opinion is that at $1.4 million to renovate, which is the latest number I've seen, the city of Winsted cannot afford to keep the building.


Tracy M. Harnit

Family background:

I am 40 years old, married to Ruth Ann (Radtke) Harnit. I have two children: Monica, age 20, and Nathan, age 3. A resident of Winsted for 15 years, I am a graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly High School and St. Cloud Technical College. I have been employed by McDermid-Colorspan Corporation of Eden Prairie as an inventory analyst/buyer for 12 years.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

The rising cost of water and sewer bills. I would look into ways to alleviate the rising cost by pursuing new industry and welcoming residential developments to Winsted.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

I favor the neutral site (the Dalbec farm) between the towns of Howard Lake and Winsted, because that is the central location of the existing Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district.

What do you plan to change once elected?

Once in office, I would have the opportunity to review existing policies and procedures and determine areas of needed improvement.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

My goal would be to prepare a plan, within one year, to replenish the reserve fund over the remainder of my four-year term. My intent would be to reduce spending to meet this goal, and would strongly object to any new city taxes.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

I do not believe the use of city money to renovate the city hall is appropriate. I would support other interested parties to come forward and purchase the property for renovation.


Bob Kegler

Family background:

Born and raised in Winsted, served on planning commission and city council for over 20 years. Currently active with Winsted Baseball Club, donating hours and funds to the cause.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

Getting the new public school located near Winsted. With Winsted paying up to 45 percent of the school budget, is there any question to the location?

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

See previous question.

What do you plan to change once elected?

No individual can make changes, we must all work together toward one commitment for a greater community to live in, now and in the future.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

With a small increase in taxes each year, a sharp pencil in spending, and continued growth and expansion of the city, we will make it.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

Preservationists have no money to renovate the building, nor the City to put money into it. What you see now is what you will be looking at for some time. You can't do 21st century business in a 19th century building. Remember, any building can be renovated, but at what price?


Bernie Lueck

Family background:

Married to wife, Karen; dog: Jack Russell terrier named "Teddy;" parents: John and Charlene; four sisters: Dottie Herring, Dawn, Jackie, and Kyla.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

I would like to get more industry into Winsted. We have an industrial park south of town that is under-utilized. I would like to fill that park to compliment the industries we already have. Companies like Millerbernd's, Sterner's, and SJ& F are great assets to our community.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

I would like to see the school in the Winsted area. A new school, that is state of the art, would draw more people to the communities around us. The combination of Howard Lake, Waverly, and Winsted is already solid. If we build the school in Winsted, it could be very appealing to having Lester Prairie join us in a great union.

What do you plan to change once elected?

I already stated that I would like to see more industry. I would also like see even more housing than we have.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

I have to honestly say, "I don't know." I would have to look at what others have done around the state and find the plan that best suits our community.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

I feel the building should be restored, but not by the city. I would like to see a developer come in and buy the building. In order to do this, the city has to make it worthwhile for a developer to renovate it.


Dave Mochinski

Family background:

I have lived in Winsted for about 40 years. I am married, have three boys: Adam 11, Jacob 17, a senior in high school, and Ryan, who is a Marine stationed in Japan.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

The city hall issue. In the past and present councils, they have complained about other people that left their property in bad shape or not looking in the best of shape, and yet our own city government lets their own building go on without any general maintenance.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

After talking to one of the people on the task force, I think I would like to see it somewhere in between the two cities. (Winsted and Howard Lake). It sounds like both cities want the school in their town, especially for the economics. If we put the school in the middle, I think it will serve the kids better.

What do you plan to change once elected?

If elected, I would like to change the way people are treated when they come to a council meeting. If someone has something to say, the council should let him or her speak. The council should also have a better handle on the money coming in, not just what is going out.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

I think some of the spending could be slowed down a little. The major projects could be done in stages, rather than all at once.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

The old city hall building should not be demolished. I co-chaired a committee a few years ago to investigate the building's structure. After showing the building to many structural engineers and contractors, they all came up with the same conclusion that the building is sound and should not be torn down. It is also an important part of our city's history and I think it is important to preserve some of that history.


Tom Ollig

Family background:

I am a lifelong resident of Winsted, married for 27 years to my wife, LuAnn. We have four daughters, Michelle 26, Beth 21, Laura 17, and Breanna 11. I served on the Winsted City Council from 1976 to 1986. I will be 49 years old this December. For three generations, my family owned and operated the Winsted Telephone Company, until its sale in 1993. Today, I manage the TDS TELECOM office in Monticello.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

Really, there are several. I believe the issue with the old city hall needs to be brought to closure so that, as a community, we can move forward. As a community, we are changing and growing, and along with growth comes growing pains and culture change. No longer does everyone know everyone else in our community - lots of new faces. We need to be open to new ideas and make everyone feel welcome.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

For the past year, there has been much discussion about the possibility of building a new public high school in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district. The politically correct location would be between Howard Lake and Winsted. I favor the school being built near Winsted. As a community, we pay over 40 percent of the total taxes needed to operate the district. Also, the construction cost of putting a school between the two communities would increase by one million dollars in order to bring sewer and water to the school from either Howard Lake or Winsted. Police protection and fire department response time is an issue as well, if not located next to a community.

What do you plan to change once elected?

I'm not so sure anything has to be changed. I very much respect any individual who serves on our city council. It is not the kind of position where people come up to you and tell you what a good job you are doing. It's all about making well-informed decisions and listening to the citizens so that once made, you can justify your position. I would hope that I could bring some professionalism and experience to the table.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

First, you have to understand how the fund became low. What can be changed regarding expenses and what is needed from the fund for future projects? The city is a business with income and expenses and like any business or family, it must operate within its means. We must look at the services we provide to our citizens, how we provide those services, and the cost. Just raising taxes every year is not the answer.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

I believe that our history is very important, I also believe that our future is equally important. Regarding the old city hall, we should do what we can afford to do. As I see it, there are three options: one, remodel the old city hall; two, sell it to an organization or person who will restore it; or three, remove it and move forward. I do not believe that, at this time, we should be looking at purchasing any other building until a decision on the old city hall is made. Most importantly, we need to be in a building that can meet the growing needs of our community for years to come.


Bonita (Bonnie) Quast

Family Background:

Married 44 years to husband, Paul; seven children: Mike Quast, Jeff (Carol) Quast, Shelly (Terry) Jorgensen, Melody (John) Hintzen, Tammy (Larry) Vealetzek, Staci (Greg) Revering, Jodi (Ben) Gilyard; 14 grandchildren. Member of St. John's Lutheran Church, Sunday School Supt. Of St. John's Lutheran Church, and member of Winstock Country Festival for Holy Trinity School. Served on the city council of Winsted from September to December of 1999.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

Is there any one single issue that will not involve everyone's purse strings in one way or another? My concerns are the people, and how much you take from them before there aren't any people to take from. In other words, I feel all the issues that are on the table at this point are going to be costly to the citizens in one way or another. We, as council members, have got to find a way for people to afford these costs over a period of time, eliminate or adjust them.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

I would like to see a location that will be centralized between all the towns involved, taking into consideration the location chosen to be the most economical and cost effective for everyone. The second thing we should take into consideration is the length of time the students (especially the little ones) have to be on a bus.

What do you plan to change once elected?

No one person can change anything, but a good combination of interested citizens that are voted in can try and make good decisions. I feel we had that at one time. I do respect and will always listen to the citizens of this town, but if I were elected, it would be my duty to act, in the best way I know how, on their behalf.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

I do not know that I have the precise answer to that right now. Due to family illness, I have not been able to study or keep up with the present situation at this time, but I do know you cannot keep making increases on every bill you send (i.e. water, sewer, special assessments, etc.) You can only get so much money from the people. There has to be a better solution and if elected, I will help try to find it.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

I do not feel the city hall situation should have gotten into the court system. Right now, it is in a state of limbo. The money that has been spent arguing and on the legal process could have been put towards restoration, destroying it, or building a new city hall. The building was, is, and has been too small to house our present city offices. Our present city council has made decisions that they thought were in the best interest of the building. Right or wrong, it is in the legal system now and there is nothing at this time, that I am aware of, can be done about it.


Aaron Wiemiller

Family background:

Wife: Joy; children: step-daughter Samantha 7, Kennedy 2. I have lived in Winsted my entire life.

What is the single most important issue to you at this time?

Issues concerning the city hall.

What location do you favor for a possible new school and why?

Somewhere between Winsted and Howard Lake. This would be an equal distance for both communities when commuting to and from the school.

What do you plan to change once elected?

To be a voice for the residents of Winsted, and not base decisions on one person's opinion.

How would you replenish the reserve fund?

Investigate current budget and spending and collected law enforcement fines.

How do you feel about the former city hall building issue?

It should've been resolved long ago, and as your elected city council member, I would strive to put this issue to rest.


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