Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

Howard Lake City Council

Three people have filed for a position on the Howard Lake City Council; Mike Mitchell, Allan Munson, and Pete Zimmerman.

Mike Mitchell

Why are you running for office?

I am running as the incumbent councilman in order to continue the projects that are underway and nearing completion at this time.

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

The first major issue Howard Lake has is continuing to upgrade the infrastructure, such as sewer, water, and streets, so that councils of the future will not have to worry about them for, hopefully, the next 50 to 75 years.

The second major issue Howard Lake is facing is the industrial park. It is a drain on the city, and due to the downturn in the economy, has not developed as expected.

However, I am sure that with more marketing, and incentives to get businesses to locate there, we will see a positive growth of the industrial park in the near future.

Why should you be elected?

I grew up in Howard Lake, retired here in 1998, and enjoy helping out wherever I can. I also have the time and visibility to continue representing the citizens on the city council.

I enjoy receiving citizen input, whether it be positive or negative. Lots of good ideas come directly from the citizens, and if something is bothering them, an attempt can be made to correct the problem. If unable to do so, I can explain why certain things are, or are not, done the way they are.

Alan Munson

Why are you running for office?

When I was previously on the council, I enjoyed working with the city staff and the other council members on the issues that came up and the planning that was required to prepare for the natural growth of the city.

I was disappointed when I had to resign because my work out of town kept me from attending the required meetings.

I look forward to working with both city staff and the council to move the city in a direction that the residents of the city find to their liking.

Howard Lake is a great community to live in and we all need to do our part to keep it that way.

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

An assisted living facility is possibly the biggest project before the city. Many lifelong residents have moved to a different community, just to have a little help with their day-to-day needs. This is unfortunate.

Assisted living here in Howard Lake would allow them to stay close to their family and friends, while maintaining as much independence as possible.

The Good Samaritan Society and the city’s volunteer committee are engaged in a process to make such a facility a reality, and the city should work closely with them to assure that all possible federal and/or state programs and grants be utilized to keep it economically feasible.

The industrial park is now a city entity. We would do well to aggressively market this property and return it to the tax rolls. Land is available, with utilities, ready to be home to the right business.

There is also a sizable amount of open land that could be fashioned into a campus-type setting suitable to a larger business.

The biggest problem with selling this property is the state of the economy. This will probably take some time.

Why should you be elected?

I’ve lived in this community all my life, and I found my previous experience on the council to be both interesting and enjoyable. I would like to again be a part of the planning and decision-making process for the city of Howard Lake, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve again in that capacity.

Pete Zimmerman

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office because I care about Howard Lake. I have enjoyed representing the residents of Howard Lake for the past four years, and would like the opportunity to continue representing them and working hard for what is important to the residents and the community.

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

One major issue affecting us currently is our underperforming funds that are affecting the general fund, most specifically the liquor store and the industrial park.

These are two areas that can, and should, be helping to strengthen our general fund and lessen the burden on taxpayers. It is time to get aggressive in marketing the industrial park, creating programs to fill its vacancies.

We have a unique opportunity to use our Tax Increment Financing fund balance to offer programs to entice new businesses, and we need to take advantage of that opportunity.

Similarly, with the municipal liquor store, we need to find ways to turn the business around, making it a fiscal support mechanism for the general fund. The city staff and the Liquor Store Committee, of which I am a member, have been working on new ideas to increase our customer base, increase the profit margin, and maintain a business model that is consistent with the needs of Howard Lake.

Another issue affecting the City of Howard Lake and many households is the current state of the economy and finances in general.

Each year, Howard Lake faces deeper cuts in our local government aid (LGA) from the legislature, putting pressure on our already-decreasing tax base and our increasing expenditure budget. We have worked hard to maintain a tight budget, while maintaining the service expectations of our residents.

We need to continue with our budgeting philosophy, while not losing sight of the future needs of Howard Lake.

We have been able to take advantage of lower interest rates and grant programs that allow us to accomplish projects within the city that benefit the residents and conform to our long-range plan. It is important that we have the foresight to use these programs and make them work for the betterment of the community.

Why should you be elected?

I should be elected because I am the right person for the job. As a council member for the past four years, I have learned a great deal about Howard Lake and what makes us such a special community.

I feel that I have a good understanding of the needs of the residents of Howard Lake, and the vision to aid in fulfilling those needs.

Over the last seven years, my professional career in government has given me a great understanding of the uniqueness of government management and finance.

I will work hard to bring in new ideas to make Howard Lake even better, and yet maintain the qualities that give the community strength.

I have made Howard Lake my home and chosen to raise my family here; Howard Lake’s future is my future and I would be honored if the voters of Howard Lake chose me to help shape that future.

© Herald Journal Publishing, Inc.