Herald Journal - Voters' Guide '08

Seven candidates vie for two seats on Delano City Council

Seven people have filed for the two open seats on the Delano City Council. Both are four-year terms.

Both incumbents, Holly Schrupp and Marc Plese, have re-filed, as have Janice Braegelmann-Schweiss, Lee Bunker, Harlan Lewis, Derek Schansberg, and Betsy Stolfa.

Candidates were mailed a political questionnaire with the following three questions:

  • Why are you running for office?
  • What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them? and
  • Why should you be elected?

The following is their responses, found in alphabetical order.

Janice Braegelmann-Schweiss

My name is Janice Braegelmann-Schweiss and I’m running for city council.

I was born and raised in the Delano area and attended Delano High School. My husband Jeff and I have four boys that attend Delano Schools.

I’m running for office because I care about the decisions that are made and how they impact the citizens of this city. I believe the city of Delano needs a change; it is time for new people and new ideas.

The property taxes in Delano cannot continue to rise. There are people that have lived in Delano for years, and are scraping by to make payments.

Being on a fixed income, this is becoming increasingly harder for them to do, and the last thing needed is to raise taxes, so it becomes even harder.

They own their houses but are afraid they may have to sell and move elsewhere. This does not just apply to the retired, it is a problem for everyone. We need to as a government body come up with tax cuts and creative ways to solve this issue.

I understand we want growth for our town. Right now, I’m not seeing that. I see empty lots, houses and store fronts.

I think Delano needs to step back and ask why? Together as a city we need input from the city council members, citizens, builders and potential business people to figure out why businesses are folding and people are no longer rushing to move to Delano

Please vote for me on November 4, because I care about Delano and its citizens.

Lee Bunker

Why are you running for office?

I am running for city council to advocate some innovative ideas that can help reform our government and help prevent problems before they happen.

Our current financial and public debt crisis should remind us that we need to do more than just vote and that we have a responsibility to monitor our government and make sure it acts for the general welfare and not for special interests.

Modern technological advances have made “governing your government” fast and convenient and should be applied in Delano.

Our city has a fine reputation for good and frugal government and I believe these innovations will help maintain this reputation for the future.

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

1. Total Accounting Transparency.

I think this is the key to good government in the modern age. One Truth in Taxation meeting a year is not good enough for a public auditing process.

There is no reason why there should be any secrecy in city government and by having open book and online accounting of expenses – from paperclips to power plants – this would insure maximum efficiency and prevent any potential abuse.

Our city as an organization does not produce that many receipts and could be easily and publicly audited with modern computer spreadsheet analysis.

This has been a standard business practice for years and there is no reason why the city cannot offer this to the public.

There is probably some cronyism in any public government but I am not really concerned about what the current situation is but what can be and should be done to ensure good government for the future.

2. Digital Democracy.

E-mail and automated phone messaging are excellent tools to ask for citizen feedback and priorities and to keep our citizenry informed and about serious municipal matters, especially concerning municipal bonds and TIF (Tax Increment Financing).

Public debt is a major problem in this country and a bond is basically a mortgage for the city and a TIF can be used as corporate welfare.

I think a cost/benefit analysis of any bond or TIF should be e-mailed to all citizens to make sure they benefit the community as a whole and not for special interests.

There are all sorts ways e-mail or phone messaging could be used to assess public opinion and take the pressure off our city council members because they just would be following the “will of the people.”

Why should you be elected?

I think it is more important to elect these ideas and to get away from “personality” politics.

Politics is a sales process and all politicians are going to be nice to your face but the problem in this country in what goes on behind closed doors – I believe the doors should never be closed and if they are, that is a sign of trouble.

Nevertheless, politics is usually based on “who knows who” and on public image and even though I have been a Delano resident for over 14 years and have a wonderful family, I do not think I will win a popularity contest.

However, if elected, I will try to get these ideas implemented or I am willing to sacrifice my time and effort to help create a “Better Democracy/Transparency for Delano” Task Force.

Please e-mail me at mleeb@usfamily.net if you are interested.

Harlan Lewis

Why are you running for office?

My name is Harlan D. Lewis and I’m running for Delano City Council.

I have knocked on the door of every house in Delano and from that I bring a unique point of view to help our city. I hear what our citizens have to say.

I have been active in Delano both with our schools and our city. Delano has things that are missing.

I’m willing to tackle any project – I have the time and expertise to get things done.

My desire is to see Delano do what is right for our city now and in the future. I will bring ideas, valuable life experiences, and solutions to the table – not just complaints.

I will do my homework, and then dig-in, get to work until it is successfully resolved. I hear what our citizens have to say and will listen to their concerns. I will do my best to respond to their desires if I am elected.

We need to bring jobs to our town, trim spending, and reduce taxes to make us more competitive in this business climate.

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

Major issues are often in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, Delano has issues. I would say we have not just two but many.

To me, Delano is a “DIAMOND in the ruff” and what we need is a little grinding and some polish.

Property taxes are a problem. Good paying jobs in Delano for Delano residents is another problem.

1. Filling our commercial lots still open along Highway 12, would be a great start.

2. Followed by the need to develop our new Industrial Park site on Highway 12 on the northwest side of our city. This site already has sewer, water and electrical in place.

3. Develop a way for the city council and the school board to communicate regularly. Keep cooperative efforts of goodwill and support for each other with regular meetings.

4. Senior issues of transportation, senior friendly streets, sidewalks and trails, clinics and medical rehab doctors, assisted living housing, adult day care, Community Ed programs for more seniors.

By the year 2020 there will be more people over the age of 65 than there will be children in k-12 schools right here in Minnesota.

5. Work toward reducing taxes and creating revenue.

Ideas to solve some of these issues:

Commercial lots still open. First, I think we need an inventory of our empty commercial lots to know how many sites are still open. (Gather info from developers, current businesses, number of pulled city permits, Wright County, State of Minnesota, etc.)

Put together a “Start a Business in Delano” task force, (operated by the Chamber of Commerce), to generate a list of businesses that Delano is looking for, develop contact ideas for these targeted business types.

Hire someone to manage and promote Delano on a regional and national basis at trade shows promoting our good schools, water, power, quality of life and excellent workforce.

New industrial park needs someone to plan, manage, sample site ideas, recruit tenants, etc.

I would suggest gathering a group of CEOs, business owners, banking groups, citizens who have or are now working outside of Delano on planning projects, known suppliers to these companies, etc. to be recruited to be on a “Blue Ribbon Committee for BUILD DELANO.”

When this park is open it will create a new source of revenue for the city of Delano, thereby reducing your taxes. AND bring more jobs to Delano – with less drive time to work, use less gas, and have more family time.

Senior Issues: If we are to become a world-class city – we cannot ignore our seniors. As a city we need to be friendlier to SENIOR issues. Therefore, I recommend we form a “Commission on Senior Needs” reporting to and working with the City of Delano.

Why should you be elected?

I would bring ideas as well as solutions to the council. I have knocked on every house in Delano getting to know the citizen issues.

I have attended most council and workshops in the past five years. I have read the Delano Comp Plan (it’s 152 pages). We need to follow it – or better yet, update it.

I am active in and have served our community in many areas such as:

Member of the American Legion Post 377 here in Delano. I’m currently serving as club board secretary.

I was appointed to the Delano Public Safety Commission. I have taken concerns to this group about: street crossings, chain link fence needed for Railroad Avenue, re-naming of 9th to “TIGER DRIVE” just to name a few actions.

I have done an eight-hour “ride-along” with the Wright County Deputy, here in Delano, to see what kind of coverage we receive for our contract with them.

Community Education Advisory Board.

I’m active on Delano Senior Issues.

Doctors for Delano - a group to get doctors for the Delano clinic.

Married to my wife, Jane, for 42 years. We have lived in Delano for the past 22 years at 118 4th Street South. We have two children. Our son, Bradley, is a 1988 Delano graduate. He now lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Our daughter, Siiri and her husband live in Waconia. We have three grandchildren ages 16, 14 and 11. I served three years with the US Army Security Agency – 22 months in Korea. I am a member of the Delano American Legion Post #377.

I have a BS degree from Moorhead State University. I have 40 years Boy Scout membership – 10 years as a paid professional. I am now retired. I was a production manager for a medical device company.

I am not related to anyone in business in Delano or who is working for the City of Delano. I am my own person. I’m retired – I have the time and I care deeply about our great City of Delano. I respectfully request your vote on November 4.

Marc Plese

Why are you running for office?

I’m proud to be a member of Delano’s city council, and I want to continue to help make Delano a wonderful place to live.

For the past two years, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked alongside a great city staff and council. The effort put forth has been tremendous. We are truly lucky to have the people in the positions we do.

The time invested up to this point is extremely valuable, and I want nothing more than to continue my service to you, the taxpayer.

The challenges keep coming, and we as a city need solid leadership to see them through. As a three year resident of Delano, my perspective is one with fresh eyes and ears, and more importantly, an open mind.

I love hearing new ideas, but am careful to understand how things are to be paid for. I am one fifth of the ‘watchdog’ on your tax dollars, and you can rest assured that I’m keeping a close eye on them.

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

Delano is not immune to what is going on in the rest of the country.

The housing market’s condition has stalled growth in our city, placing extra burden on existing residents due to a lack of new building permit revenue.

Thankfully, current and past councils have done an outstanding job of managing our residential growth, so our vacant home and foreclosure numbers are not as dramatic as neighboring communities.

Given the current housing climate, I strongly believe we need to continue to pursue a second industrial park in Delano.

This would provide increased revenues for the city, thus taking pressure off residents. Industrial parks provide substantial tax revenue, in addition to requiring fewer city services than other types of commercial development.

The second major issue facing Delano is the city’s lack of retail businesses.

It saddens me when I see empty retail space where sound businesses once existed. Does it make sense to develop Delano Crossings II when Delano Crossings I has vacant store fronts begging for the next business to take a chance on us?

The answer to this question is not easy, and as a member of council I voted in favor of continued development because I am optimistic that we are creating an attractive place for businesses to flourish.

The completion of Phase I of Highway 12 is a major step in the right direction for both future and existing businesses.

Although not an easy project for our existing businesses to endure this summer, I believe the project’s completion will be a huge benefit to our businesses in the future.

I will continue to support our businesses as I have for the past three years as a resident, and two years as a member of city council. We will not attract new business if we do not support what we currently have.

Why should you be elected?

I’ve worked diligently for the residents of Delano for nearly two years as a member of the city council.

The time I have invested so far is invaluable and provides experience that I’m truly proud of. My background in business and management helps me make sound decisions regarding your money, while my interest in community and family make me a candidate that can relate to the residents of Delano.

I will make decisions as a member of Delano’s city council the same way most residents would – based on what will be best for my family’s quality of life, and the value of our home.

I have no other agenda to pursue. If you feel that the city is moving in the right direction, and the best is yet to come for Delano, exercise your right to vote Nov. 4 and vote Marc Plese for four more years.

Derek Schansberg

Why are you running for office?

I enjoy living in the city of Delano. I feel that I know and am aware of many parts of the city makeup.

As I watched the city council over the years, I have gathered suggestions and ideas to help build and strengthen our community.

I would like to be part of the team that improves the relationship between the school board and the council, Franklin Township and the council, and gets the focus of the council back to governing the city.

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

As everybody knows we are in difficult economy right now. Any way to help the citizens of Delano save money would be welcomed.

The municipal utilities for the past three years has had some of the highest rates among the local utilities. We need to find a way to get the prices back in line with the other communities and maintain them going forward.

There is also serious discussion of a big box retail store being built just outside Delano. The plan also calls for possible additional development to the southeast.

We have to look after the interests of the businesses and citizens of Delano. This development will affect Delano now and also affect the future growth of Delano, especially to the west. We need to work with the developer to make sure Delano gets the best scenario possible.

Why should you be elected?

I grew up in Delano, moved away to attend college, lived in the cities for six years, and moved back with my family to Delano because it is such a wonderful community and I wanted to be involved in that community.

My being involved with youth athletics, various local organizations, and being a business owner has allowed me to see many different aspects in town and has given me a unique perspective from many different points of view.

I want to be a part of the team that continues to improve Delano and keep it as one of the best cities in the state to raise a family.

Holly Schrupp

Hello, my name is Holly Schrupp. I am proud to say I am a lifelong resident of Delano.

I graduated from Delano High School and achieved two degrees from Rasmussen Business College, the first in Accounting and second for completing the Office Assistant program.

I have worked as a teacher’s assistant at Wee Tiger Preschool for three years. I am also an Independent Sales Representative for Avon.

My husband, Tim, our sons, Cody and Caden, and I have lived in our home for ten years and are members of St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

I have served on the city council for the past six years. During my terms, I’ve been the liaison to the Planning Commission, Utility Commission and Community Education Commission. I have experience with the city budget process, city staffing issues, Highway 12 project with MnDOT, planning and zoning issues and park and recreation needs.

As a member of the council, I believe the two most important issues facing the City of Delano are ensuring the city is providing high quality public services while remaining fiscally responsible to citizens.

I will to continue to require responsible residential and commercial growth, enforcement of the “cleaning up” of properties that are not up to code, and working with the residents of Delano to resolve their concerns.

My vision for the future of Delano is to maintain the growth rate that has been set by the city council and city staff. This includes making sure that new development pays for itself – from the new infrastructure that is required to any improvements that need to be made in order to assure current residents are not impacted with these expenses.

I will continue to work on:

• the expansion of community services.

• the flood control project with the Army Corps of Engineers.

• planning and zoning issues

In the years to come, the City of Delano will be faced with development and services issues.

We will need council members with the knowledge and experience to make well-informed decisions to balance the pressure of progress with the need to maintain the rural tradition that is Delano.

Over the past six years as your council member, I have shown I can be that person and will continue to do so to benefit our city.

Please exercise your right to vote on November 4, 2008, and I would greatly appreciate your support.

Betsy Stolfa

Why are you running for office?

My family roots in Delano, going back over 100 years, and the bright potential of Delano’s future brought my family “back” to Delano.

I love the small-town, wave-to-your-neighbor quality of life, which I will strive to preserve. I am running for city council because I am passionate about the city and its long-term health and success.

I value getting things accomplished. I will be proactive and hands-on for real future progress. Delano residents deserve the full engagement of their council members.

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

Encouraging business development is my first priority.

We have an historic town center, an improved highway corridor with unfilled retail space and an unrealized industrial park.

Filling these spaces with new or expanding local businesses will increase our tax base, attract consumers and create jobs. I will advocate for locally-owned businesses while seeking new businesses to locate here.

• We must identify and eliminate unnecessary obstacles for business development. Flexibility and simplicity should be key elements.

• The potential of big-box retail across our eastern border requires the public’s input.

We must insure that Delano receives favorable compensation and revenue for any long-term investment in infrastructure. We must consider our own business owners’ interests, and fight for a quality design consistent with our standards.

• Downtown Delano needs an identity to make it a destination for consumers, such as that of Stillwater or Excelsior.

The proximity to the cities creates an opportunity to become known as the place to go. I would work with business groups to define a vision of that identity.

• We must lay out the red carpet for our proposed industrial park west of town. Any issues that hold up development there must be resolved immediately.

A second major issue is livability for all generations.

• More walking/biking paths are needed so seniors and children can travel safely across the railroad, highway and river.

I support continued improvements to our parks and would welcome an arts commission to beautify and enliven them.

• We have an exemplary senior center, and I will listen to seniors and their families about what service gaps remain.

• I believe the excellence of Delano Schools is vital to sustaining our property values.

• I will be attentive to area organizations. We have a bountiful supply of volunteers who make Delano a friendly, livable place and whose work benefits us all.

Why should you be elected?

The real choice between candidates is in the skills, experience and personality strengths each has to offer.

I am an independent candidate with no particular axe to grind nor alliances to appease. I will be attentive to residents and business owners alike.

I have a record of getting things done and doing them right the first time. My record of community service demonstrates enthusiasm, competence and dedication.

I have been chair of the Concerts in the Park committee for two years as a member of the GFWC Women’s Club of Delano; chair of the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) Advisory Board; and treasurer of the Big Woods Garden Club.

I work as executive administrator of two area Rotary clubs. I am a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Go ahead – ask anyone I serve with about my enthusiasm, competence and dedication!