Herald Journal - Voters' Guide '08

Seven file for positions in Cokato

Seven people have filed for positions on the Cokato City Council.

Two have filed for mayor; incumbent Bruce Johnson, and Wayne Murphy, who is currently serving as a city council member.

For city council, incumbents Carl Harju and Butch Amundsen re-filed, as well as newcomers Chad Wuollet, Matt Stumpf, and Mark Curlew.

Seats open include the mayorship, served by Bruce Johnson; along with the council seats served by Carl Harju and Butch Amundsen.

Bruce Johnson

Why are you running for office?

I have been mayor for the past 10 years. During that time, the council and I have led the City of Cokato through some large projects, such as the completion of the Highway 12 project, the development and construction of a mandaed water treatment plant, the rebuilding of Broadway Avenue South, the upgrading of the city’s parks, and welcoming of new subdivisions and businesses.

I would like to continue to serve as your mayor. I look forward to any new challenges, keeping within the city budget, while maintaining essential services.

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

A major issue this year and the next two years is the mandated levy limit increase of 3.9 percent. This levy limit, along with the foreclosed property in the city, severely limits the council’s ability to meet expenses and work on city projects in the future.

Another major issue is essential repairs to the city streets. A number of our streets are in disrepair, due to age and increased traffic. They need to be replaced. Funding for street replacement is hard to do with the levy limits now in place for the next three years. I will work on financing and starting street replacement in the city.

The city’s public safety building is quickly becoming inadequate. A larger building to handle the fire and ambulance department will be needed soon. A group of volunteers is currently working on making a recommendation to the council regarding a building. I will help to make the recomendation a reality, with the support of the citizens.

Why should you be elected?

I take great pride in the City of Cokato. It is a city that has grown during my 10-year tenure, both in population and new and expanding businesses and housing. I will continue with dedicated efforts to insure Cokato is even a more desirable, safe community in which to live and work.

Wayne Murphy

Why are you running for office?

I am running for mayor because I have a vision for the future of Cokato that I call “Cokato, a Neighborhood for Life.” I want to build on the First Impressions program that the newly formed Cokato EDA and I as a city councilman began. I believe the role of leadership is to build on the achievements of the past and to shape a vision for the future.

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

Cooperation between the citizens and city staff are vital to the life of Cokato. As mayor, I will continue to promote the education and accountability for the city staff.

I also support new equipment and facilities to effectively and efficiently protect and serve the citizens.

Responsible spending of time and money is extremely important in city government. As mayor, one of my priorities is to account for the wise use of the city’s engineer and attorney. The current water/sewer budget and fee schedules should also be reviewed for possible cost savings to the citizens.

Why should you be elected?

I will share my God-given gifts of leadership, insight, hospitality, compassion, and vision to stir a “can-do” attitude in others. My call to serve as mayor is my way to give back to the community that helped raise my family for the past 20 years. I would appreciate your support and your vote.

Carl Harju

Why are you running for office?

I was born and raised here. Cokato is a good, safe place to live and raise a family. I want to see future generations be able to safely and affordably live here. We need to keep our long range plans in mind when dealing with the issues we face today.

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

First, the proposed public safety building needs to move forward. The current building no longer meets the needs of the fire department and ambulance. I believe the city council should authorize the construction of the new building.

Second, the city needs to continue to promote growth, despite the current economy. Our EDA needs to have the encouragement and resources to actively promote Cokato for business expansion. The city council needs to show fiscal responsibility and make good decisions about maintaining and updating our infrastructure to meet current and future needs.

Why should you be elected?

I have an open mind and am willing to listen to citizens’ concerns. I try to look at an issue from many sides before making a decision.

Butch Amundsen

Why are you running for office?

Many items have been accomplished by the City of Cokato in the past few years. Among these are the broadway reconstruction, federally-mandated water treatment facility, upgrading of city parks, and the establishment of a city EDA.

I would work to continue to serve the citizens with a vision for the future to upgrade the services provided by the city.

We must work together with an “open door” policy where the citizens are concerned.

Some may run for office because of a single issue, without looking at the total picture of serving the city – budgeting, streets, water and sewer, parks, planning an zoning, and economic development.

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

We, as a city, must face a number of items. Among these are long-range planning for roads and infrastructure and maintaining services to the citizens of Cokato with the cutback in state aid and the advent of levy limits.

I will work to control spending and budget controls to accomplish these goals.

The public safety building that is being proposed for the city is a “hot button” issue. While I personally believe that this is a needed facility, it is something that the citizens should have the right to express their opinions on through their vote.

Why should you be elected?

It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Cokato for the past eight years as a councilperson, and before that as mayor. I am dedicated to the City of Cokato and have the experience and vision to see the city grow in the future. I will continue to work to maintain services to our citizens, even with the budget limits.

Chad Wuollet

Why are you running for office?

I am running for city council because I care about how the city government is run, and I know I can have a positive impact.

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

I think the important issues to most of us right now are government spending and the intrusion of government into our lives.

As a city council member, I would ensure that our tax dollars are being spent on the legitimate function of government and keep the city focused on city business.

Why should you be elected?

I will be your common sense conservative voice in city government.

Matt Stumpf

Why are you running for office?

Because I think it’s time for somebody with a fresh perspective on things to try and better the way things are done.

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

Water bill and streets. I think the city could have better spent money on the streets than the purchase of a building just to tear it down. As far as the water bill, I’m not sure that anything can be done about it, but I can’t just sit back and keep paying that much without trying to do something about it.

Why should you be elected?

Because I think it’s time to replace the “yes men” that currently are on the council.

We need somebody on the council that didn’t grow up here, and isn’t afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, if it means doing what’s best for Cokato.

This is a good town to live in, but I think it could be great.

Mark Curlew

Why are you running for office?

I felt that rather than commenting to friends and family on how things could be better – I should take a more active approach in trying to improve them.

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

I would like to see more businesses moving into the Cokato area. It is my opinion that we have an under-utilitized downtown area. With more businesses come more tax dollars, and more emloyment opportunities. I would like to see Cokato actively pursuing businesses to locate and invest here.

I would also like to see what we can do about lowering water and sewage rates. I have friends in other parts of the country (without 10,000 lakes) with bills one third the size of mine, and I know I’m not alone in this.

Why should you be elected?

If you feel that we can do a better job of attracting businesses to the Cokato area, and think that your water and sewage bill is too high, then vote for me.