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Forum introduces voters to mayoral candidates
Oct. 25, 2010
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Three vying to be Delano’s next mayor

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

The second night of forums sponsored by the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce took place Oct. 14, and featured candidates for Delano mayor, state representative district 19B, and state senate district 19.

Josh Hecksel, of the chamber’s government affairs committee, served as the moderator for the night. Here is what Delano’s three mayoral candidates, Larry Bartels, Dale Graunke, and Harlan Lewis had to say about several key issues.

Top priorities

Lewis said he’s not sure it is a top priority, but said increased accountability is a priority for him. Involving more of Delano’s citizens and taking an inventory of Delano to see what resources are available are also priorities.

Bartels said responsible spending, looking at long-term cost benefits, and managing road improvements considering present economic conditions are priorities.

Graunke said increasing revenue to defer costs in the city is a priority for him. He cited the creation of an industrial park on the west side of town that could relieve some of the burden on taxpayers, and also bring jobs to the community.

Plan for funding street improvements

Bartels said this is the big topic around town, and said, if one analyzes the numbers, and looks at the age of Delano’s streets and borrowing limits, the reconstruction requires some sort of an assessment policy.

“If you want to have a sustainable, long-term plan, I don’t know of another way to do it,” Bartels said.

Graunke said he would prefer to form a task force to look at the issue further, and said economic issues are affecting everyone.

“It’s not that I’m not in favor of fixing streets; there are just a lot of other things going on,” Graunke said.

Lewis said many people have many different opinions on the issue, and said he feels the public has not had the opportunity to hear them all.

“What is the urgency now, without getting further input from citizens?” Lewis said.

Extending utilities across County Line Road to Independence

Graunke said this issue is a “moot point,” and said he wouldn’t be in favor of extending utilities into Independence unless there is a benefit to Delano.

Lewis stated he was opposed to the idea, and said he does not want to get involved with the Metropolitan Council in any “way, shape, or form.”

Bartels said, in a resident survey recently done, the number one request from Delano residents was to have some form of shopping. He said he’d love to have a Target store on the west side of town, but said it’s not going to happen. He added, if the right agreement can be worked out with Independence, he would be in favor of extending utilities into Independence. He said control can be maintained if Delano is involved, thus protecting existing Delano businesses.

Industrial park

Bartels said the city has already done a lot of work on this issue, and said a plan is in place once a tenant comes forward to get the park up and running. He said it sounds good to build something, but said it would be “crazy” to put up a building at this time unless a tenant is secured.

“It’s going to happen, but right now, it’s very difficult to attract businesses,” Bartels said.

Graunke said plans are in place for the industrial park, and said you could pull the pin on it and it would happen. He said a lot of costs could be offset if the right business comes in.

Lewis said he believes the city needs to do something. He said he would like to see the city’s economic development authority (EDA) be made up of people other than the mayor and city council members.

“I don’t think we’re reaching out there,” Lewis said, citing the need for business retention and expansion.

Additional questions were posed to the candidates regarding the proposed street assessment policy and forming a committee, traffic and safety issues surrounding potential big box development, and retooling government.

Candidates for state representative, Chris Brazelton and Joe McDonald and state senate, Jim Bischoff and Amy Koch, also participated in a forum following the mayoral candidates. Their views can be found in candidate profiles elsewhere in the newspaper. City council candidates and school board candidates appeared at a forum Oct. 12, and coverage of that appeared in last week’s newspaper.

Full candidate profiles for all of these candidates can be found online at www.delanoheraldjournal.com. Click “voters’ guide” at the lower left.

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