By Ivan Raconteur
MAYER, MN Residents who attended last Monday’s political forum in Mayer took full advantage of the opportunity to question candidates about a wide variety of subjects.
Two key issues that emerged during the event were the ballot question regarding whether the city should bond for $685,000 in improvements at Old Schoolhouse Park, and whether fire department members serving on the city council would constitute a conflict of interest.
Council member Myron Taylor served as moderator, and resident Ray Laakaniemi served as timekeeper.
There are three candidates running for two open city council seats. Neither Taylor, nor Dawn Oman, who is serving the remainder of the seat vacated by the resignation of Mike Dodge last summer, filed for re-election.
The council candidates are Dan Lueth, Erick Boder, and Paul Malberg.
Mayor Chris Capaul also participated in the event, but stated at the beginning of the event that, since he is running unopposed, he would defer all questions to the council candidates, unless residents had specific questions for him.
One of the issues that drew the most questions during the forum is a question that will be on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 2: should the city of Mayer be authorized to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $685,000 to finance improvements to Old Schoolhouse Park, including the construction and installation of a grandstand, bleachers, lights, and restrooms.
Malberg said he would vote in favor of the project, while Lueth and Boder said they would not.
Malberg said there is never a good time to spend money, but noted the city has been battling with the need for the improvements for about six years. He said if the improvements are made, the park would be a focal point for the city.
Lueth said he is not in favor of the improvements as proposed, but acknowledged that the park would be something that a lot of people would use, and it would draw people into the city.
Boder said it would be nice to have the improvements, but noted that his home is surrounded by four houses that are in foreclosure, and the cost of the proposed improvements would be a lot for families that are already struggling.
Another question that was raised during the forum was whether having firefighters on the council would constitute a conflict of interest.
Lueth and Boder are members of the Mayer Fire Department.
Both indicated that they would not allow their fire department affiliation to affect their decisions if elected to serve on the council.
Lueth said he would recuse himself from voting on any issue that would benefit him directly.
Regarding a question about land that the city owns that has been discussed as a possible site for a new fire hall in the future, Boder said the city’s existing fire hall is adequate.
Lueth said now is not the time to build a new fire hall, and one will not be needed until there is substantial growth in the city.
He said that even when a new fire hall is needed, the city should consider all available options, including the possibility of building a fire hall half- way between New Germany and Mayer, so that services could be combined.
Malberg said he wouldn’t have purchased the land in the first place, and more growth is needed before a new fire hall would be needed.
One resident asked how many city council meetings each of the candidates has attended in the past two years.
Boder said he has not attended any, due to a conflict with fire department meetings.
Lueth said he has not attended any, but has read the minutes on the city website about every six weeks.
He added that he is running with no agenda, and hasn’t seen the need to attend meetings, since there has been nothing he wanted to change.
Malberg said he has attended the last six or seven council meetings, as well as the city council workshops that followed some of the meetings.
He said he has attended other council meetings in the past.
“I want to know what issues the community is facing,” Malberg said.
Each candidate was given the opportunity to present an opening and closing statement.
Malberg grew up in Watertown, and moved to Mayer in 1993.
He said he is running because he wants to give something back to the community.
“I will be a new voice your voice,” Malberg said.
He added that he would like to bring business and development to town, while keeping the small-town feel. He said he would stand up for the taxpayer, present an unbiased opinion, and stop wasteful spending.
Lueth said he is a lifelong area resident, and has lived in Mayer for six years.
He has served on the Mayer Fire Department for five years.
He has a two-year degree in law enforcement, and a four-year degree in business management with a focus on political science.
He works as an investigator for an insurance company.
Lueth said he is running for office because it is time to get involved in the process.
Lueth said he would take personal pride in making frugal decisions on behalf of the city, and focus on maintaining core services.
“I will work hard to make this a great place to live,” Lueth said.
Boder moved to Mayer six years ago. In addition to being a firefighter, he has served on the economic development authority and on the Rising Community Festival committee.
He has worked 12 years in law enforcement, as a police officer, police chief, and sheriff’s deputy.
He described himself as a problem-solver, and said he has experience in budget management.
Boder said he would keep taxes low, and make sure the city is getting value for its money. He said he would support lower taxes and business growth.
“I will be available to every citizen in Mayer,” Boder said.
Capaul closed with a pitch to get residents more involved in local government.
“I encourage everyone to visit a city council meeting,” Capaul said. “Stop by and see what we are up to.