Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Four competing for two seats on Independence council

Oct. 26, 2009

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

INDEPENDENCE, MN – Four candidates have filed for two seats on the Independence City Council in this fall’s election.

This year, seats presently held by Lynn Betts and Lance Gyllenblad are up for election. The two incumbents, along with Brad Spencer and Chris Stephan, are running for election to the seats. Council members serve four-year terms.

The election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3. It should be noted that the City of Independence is the only local government entity to be having an election this fall.

Below are candidates responses to a Delano Herald Journal Newspaper questionnaire for 2009 candidates.

Lynn Betts

Why are you running for Independence City Council?

I believe in service to the community that I love so much. I believe I represent our residents. There are important issues and challenges in regard to the economy and future growth. I want our citizens to be treated fairly and with respect when they come to the council with their issues.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

The first is the economic slowdown and its impact on the city. This issue may be with us for some time and careful budgeting and consolidation of services must continue.

Cutting or postponing some expenses may be necessary and this has been done previously.

Continuing workshops on the city budget throughout the year is important for such cost control.

Retention of essential services for safety – namely our police and fire – is of great importance to our city.

The second major issue is development – both residential and commercial. The lack of sewer service somewhat limits such expansion.

The additional tax base to our city would be beneficial and must be done carefully to insure impact on residents and lifestyle is minimal and protects property rights.

Such planning is essential and can be difficult, but I believe this can be done and will happen over time as the economy returns to some normalcy.

Why should you be elected?

I have lived in Independence since 1963 and know it well. I have served Independence on the park board before being elected to the council.

I have served two terms on the council and attend seminars pertinent to our city to gain knowledge of state, county, and city rules and regulations or new issues.

I come to meetings prepared and ask questions until I am satisfied I have answers to make an informed decisions. I am respectful to our residents and to fellow council members.

I welcome e-mails, phone calls, or meetings to help our residents with any issue.

Lance Gyllenblad

Why are you running for Independence City Council?

I am running for reelection to the city council, because I feel more has to be accomplished to make this city once again, affordable to live in for the average resident.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

The first major issue facing Independence for 2010 is the approval of 2030 comprehensive plan by MET council. This plan is essential to our second major issue paying for, and providing, badly needed sewer for Lindgren Lane residents on Lake Independence.

Why should you be elected?

I should be elected because I will continue to fight for land owner rights, lower taxes, and the preservation of a rural lifestyle in Independence.

Brad Spencer

Why are you running for Independence City Council?

I am running for city council because I am worried about the future of Independence.

Our city will be facing several important issues and many difficult decisions over the next few years. The two council seats in this year’s election will determine the path our city will ultimately follow.

Important decisions are being made outside the public forum and I find that disappointing. Some of the members of our city council have forgotten the art of respectful disagreement, and public meetings frequently contain sadly inappropriate personal attacks.

I also felt the council failed to respond to the public on the West Hennepin Public Safety issue.

Reflecting on these failures, I came to the realization that a change in the composition of the council was needed.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

Development, taxes, budgets: Pressure on the city to develop increases each year, presenting tempting possibilities for new sources of income, but these development decisions need to consider both the true value and the real cost to the city over the long run.

Well-planned growth, rather than spot-zoning where opportunities appear, will pay dividends down the road.

Property values are down, state aid to cities is gone, and cost-cutting proposals are threatening core city services. Relief through responsible spending can help while we search for ways to improve city revenues.

Finances should be managed more like we would in our businesses or homes, deferring maintenance or investment only where they won’t come back to haunt us in the future, as well as protecting the assets, talents, and services we benefit from the most so they will be available when we need them again.

West Hennepin Public Safety: The responsibility of the city to adequately provide for our safety remains a central issue. Despite overwhelming community support for maintaining the city’s contract with West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS), some members of our current city council continue to maneuver to replace WHPS with Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies.

These council members would dismantle a police department that has served us faithfully for over 30 years, reduce service, coverage and response times, and discard the years of experience and knowledge accumulated by our officers and staff just to save a couple bucks.

I will vote to maintain and strengthen our relationship with the police commission and WHPS, and against any effort to destroy what I consider to be a strong and valuable relationship that is vitally important to us all.

Why should you be elected?

Local political candidates seem to come from two different stocks; a few who are trying to make their city a better place, and those with a big chip on their shoulder who are still emotionally mired in the issues and problems of the past.

The latter sometimes gets elected and quickly discovers there is a large and important job that goes along with the title.

I have no personal agenda and I am prepared and willing to serve the city in the best interests of the majority of residents.

During my 12 years as an Independence resident, I have been involved in our community for the past six years as a member and chairperson of the Independence Planning Commission. I have also been a director in the Lake Sarah Improvement Association for eight years, and a leader for the Delano Cub Scouts for four years.

In these positions and as a volunteer for other city activities, I have worked hard for the betterment of our city and our families.

I would like to continue to serve our community and I have the knowledge, capability and experience to do the job.

Chris Stephan

Why are you running for Independence City Council?

I love living in Independence and I want to keep it an affordable place to live and raise a family.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

I think the two major issues for Independence are the ever rising property taxes and the large amount of debt the city is now servicing.

We need to get our property taxes under control and reduce our growing debt, while protecting essential services that ensure the high quality of life in Independence.

Why should you be elected?

I should be elected because I am a candidate that will vote to protect the financial future of the city and preserve our high quality of life here in Independence.


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