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Despite division, City council fills vacant seat
Dec. 8, 2017

Nan Royce
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE – The good news? Three candidates filed for the vacant council seat on the Howard Lake City council.

The difficult news? All three applicants, according to the council, would do a great job.

“I’m equally impressed with all of you,” Councilor Al Munson said during the council meeting Dec. 5.

Who stepped up?

The three applicants, Jason Deiter, Emily Long, and Craig Loebertmann, were each given a chance to address the council and discuss highlights of their written applications.

Deiter approached the podium first. He stated he was excited by the future of Howard Lake, knew there were tough decisions ahead, and would appreciate the opportunity to contribute through all of it.

Although the written application for the council position asked for three significant city issues to be addressed, Deiter had submitted a list of 12.

Deiter briefly mentioned his interest in working to improve the trail system from Howard Lake to Winsted; the condition of Lions Park beach; promoting and fostering positivity throughout Howard Lake by bringing people and organizations together; utilizing the greenspace where the middle school used to be; bringing a variety of musical events to the park; the attractiveness of the city; the addition of a community garden in addition to the FFA program; exploring the use of solar energy; and using tax, utilities, and waste management dollars in ways that would best support community growth.

Applicant Emily Long took the next turn to address the council. Long, a mother of young children, wanted to work to make sure the city was a place her kids wanted to call home when they got older and had families of their own.

Long’s three issues of significance included Lions Park and the improvement of the beach located there; business growth; and working toward making the intersection of County Road 6 and Highway 12 safer.

Applicant Craig Loebertmann took the final turn at the podium. Loebertmann stated that, as a lifelong citizen of Howard Lake, he had personally seen many changes in the city. He was interested in ensuring the city remained a place to be proud to call home for many years.

His top three issues of significance included providing more safe activities for youth, especially at the beach at Lions Park; the creation of walking/running/biking trails to one or more of Howard Lake’s adjoining cities; and the appearance of the Highway 12 corridor and finding and assisting business owners with improvements.

City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller advised the council it needed to select one candidate for the vacant seat. In the event of a tie, Mayor Pete Zimmerman would be called upon to make the final decision.

Council votes divided

The council took time to fully discuss each member’s choice for the open seat.

Councilor Tom Kutz stated he had been talking with Loebertmann about city issues for years, and felt his extensive history with the city of Howard Lake made Loebertmann the best choice for the position.

Zimmerman indicated similarly that he had been discussing city issues with Long for several years as well, and she got his vote.

Councilor Gene Gilbert said she was excited by Deiter’s comments about the lake and Good Neighbor Days in particular. She cast her vote for Deiter.

Munson was the last to express his opinion. He obviously struggled to pick an applicant.

Kutz was sympathetic towards Munson’s plight. “We all know you all,” he said, looking at the applicants. “All three of you would be good. It’s a tough decision.”

Haggenmiller reminded the council they could table the issue, but wouldn’t gain anything by doing so. He also noted the application questions were designed specifically to get a good look at each candidate’s different skills.

Zimmerman lightened the atmosphere by telling Munson, “All you have to do is pick one,” he said. “We all did it.”

Zimmerman further pointed out that the two applicants who were not selected would be free to run against Munson in next year’s election.

Munson appeared to be in deep thought for a few moments, before finally casting his vote for Deiter, noting he was the applicant with the most useful skills.

Long and Loebertmann congratulated Deiter, and Haggenmiller expressed appreciation to all three of them for their interest in making Howard Lake stronger. “It’s delightful to see three people who care about their community – and you sincerely do,” he said. “That’s awesome.”

First official day on the job

Deiter will be sworn in during the Jan. 16, 2018 council meeting.

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