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

Delano City Council

Dan Gustafson

Why are you running for Delano City Council?

Duty to community and a call to serve.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing the city of Delano, and what are your proposed solutions?

A downturn in revenue based on economic factors. The entire nation is in a financial crunch, as inflation has caused higher prices on all commodities and we are finding that the al-mighty dollar is no longer able to stretch as far.

We need to start reducing the debt load/tax burden on every citizen, to allow for gentle deflation and to help each citizen further the use of their money in their own life.

Vandalism, we have people leaving scrap iron on the side of Highway 12.

Quit seeking grants from the “Legacy Fund” to place these items on our public grounds.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

Cut bureaucracy at all levels. Reduce red tape to business, promoting a pro-business environment, making Delano attractive to new businesses; both retail and industrial. This will grow the tax base and reduce the overall individual tax burden per household.

Harlan D. Lewis

I have been married to my wife, Jane, for 47 years. We have lived in Delano for the past 25 years at 118 4th Street South. We have two children. Our son, Bradley, is a 1988 Delano graduate. He now lives in Kenosha, WI. Our daughter, Siiri, and her husband live in Waconia. We have three grandchildren, ages 20, 18, and 15.

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 bachelor of science degree from Moohead State University, and an automated machine technology degree from Hennepin Tech.

I have 40 years of Boy Scout membership – 10 years as a paid professional. I was a production manager for a medical device company before retiring.

I am a member of the Delano Community Education Board, Delano Public Safety Commission, Delano Dream Team II/Downtown Task Force, Delano CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Delano Commons Community Action Board, and Delano Senior Issues group.

Why are you running for Delano City Council?

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

I’m knocking on the door of most houses in Delano. By doing that, I hear what our citizens have to say and I will listen to their concerns.

I have been active in Delano, both with our schools and our city. 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, and work until it is successfully resolved.

I will do my best to respond to citizens’ desires when I am elected.

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

Work toward reducing taxes and creating revenue.

Rising property taxes are a problem. Good-paying jobs in Delano for Delano residents is another problem. We need to be more resourceful in helping commercial development to Delano.

Ideas to solve some of these issues:

Hold city spending down. We need a new, fresh review of how best to operate our city within a reasonable budget framework. With our current economic reality, we cannot keep doing things the same old way. We must find ways to hold spending down to the level it was last year, or less.

Good-paying jobs:

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 service.

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 information from developers, current businesses, numbers of pulled city permits, Wright County, State of Minnesota, recent city surveys, 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, and develop contact ideas for these targeted business types.

We need someone to manage and promote Delano on a regional and national basis at trade shows, promoting our good schools, water, power, land, 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, and 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 city and 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 nine years. I have read the Delano Comp Plan (its 152 pages). We need to follow it – or better yet, update it. Yes, I’m on the group that is now starting to do just that.

I am active in, and have served our community in many areas.

One example: 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 Sheriff’s Deputy in Delano, to see what kind of coverage we receive for our contract with them. I do dig in and follow through. First group to promote Delano’s CERT program came from this committee.

We must do everything we can for our great schools. Most of all, our city council must keep working for greater collaboration with the excellent school system that we have in Delano.

I am not related to anyone in business in Delano or who is working for the City of Delano; in fact, I’m not related to anyone in 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 Tuesday, Nov. 6.

John D. “Jack” Russek

Why are you running for Delano City Council?

I am running because I feel I can bring a lot of experience to the council, and I am interested in what goes on in our city.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing the city of Delano, and what are your proposed solutions?

Streets and the budget. I believe we need to maintain our streets better, and we also must watch all spending and city needs.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

We must be sure that we are getting the most we can for every dollar we spend, and be careful not to lose on safety and service at the same time.

Betsy Stolfa

Why are you running for Delano City Council?

My commitment to making Delano an even better place to live and work motivates my run for re-election. I am passionate about the city’s long-term health.

Voters may expect my full attention and a proactive, transparent approach. In addition, public input is very important to me. I welcome and respond to your feedback and questions, and I push for inclusive committees, so anyone can have their voice heard.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing the county, and what are your proposed solutions?

Business retention and development is my first priority. A healthy level of business growth will be just as effective in holding our property tax in check as cost-cutting. My goal is for the city to take an active role to attract more shopping, services, and quality well-paying jobs to Delano.

Helpful, flexible and fair business policies make it easy for businesses to locate and thrive in Delano.

Since I took office, we have had record-setting commercial growth, including new retail and services at Delano Crossings; major expansions, such as the clinic and Randy’s Sanitation; and redevelopments in the industrial park and the old Dodge dealership.

We also took a giant leap forward on making the new westside business park a reality. All of this occurred despite tough financial times. Let’s keep this track record going.

Maintaining our quality of life is my other top priority. Some of my goals:

Implement our comprehensive road maintenance plan, so we have smooth streets city-wide.

Protect the small-town feel, and encourage redevelopment in our historic downtown.

Support the excellence of our schools.

Continue advocating for safe crosswalks and trails, so all ages can move around the city.

Support and improve our parks and senior center. They are gems.

Increase flood protection.

Build on our Spirit of Community Initiative, which fosters cooperation with our fantastic volunteer organizations.

In all things, strive for clean, well-maintained, and beautiful.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

The last four years, my approach to fiscal responsibility emphasized balance between increasing the tax base and looking for innovative ways to deliver services more inexpensively. In response to the recession, we cut costs in a number of ways. We stabilized the city’s finances while prioritizing services that directly affect residents.

For example:

We share our building official and costly sewer maintenance equipment with a neighboring town.

We reduced city hall staff.

We re-financed debts to more favorable interest rates.

We partnered with community organizations and businesses, such as the Delano Athletic Club and Landscape Structures, to make improvements in our parks. Volunteers have been invited to adopt a park.

We sought and received grants for flood control measures, road improvements, and other projects.

We bought used instead of new.

Kudos to city staff for their great efforts in delivering friendly, professional services with a lean budget.

I comb through each and every line of the budget, reassessing the need for each expense, every year, always mindful that these funds are taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Thank you for participating in Delano’s future success by voting Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Jon Sutherland

Why are you running for Delano City Council?

There are two open seats on the council, I care about Delano, and I want to serve the public. I want to utilize my skills to work towards maintaining and improving Delano. I want to be a part of Delano and to fulfill the duties of a council member.

When you meet someone new, they may ask, “Where are you from?” I am happy to say I live in Delano. It’s a great place to live and to raise our family. My wife, Margaret, and our kids can say, “I grew up in Delano.” We love the small-town character, the community, and the schools.

What do you believe are the top two issues facing the City of Delano, and what are your proposed solutions?

Management and finances of the city is number-one. Our home is our biggest investment and its value continues to go down, yet the tax levy keeps going up. The 2013 proposed levy is close to a 10 percent increase.

I would like our local government to balance itself out with the downturn in the economy, and also to be able to react to it faster.

The economy changes so fast and it seems like the government cannot keep up. Taxes, fees, increases, and subsidies continue, where many folks’ income has gone down, and not just for one year, but for several.

The solution is holding back on spending and making some tough choices. Tax levy increases in the face of a falling economy and personal income is not sustainable.

To focus on maintenance is number-two. Focus on repairing the streets, reducing spending where possible, and retooling across the board. Plan for the recovery of the economy, and provide for slower and well-managed growth. Keep Delano’s rural small-town character and historic downtown. Maintain our excellence in schools.

What specifically can this unit of government do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

This seems like an impossible question, and I have seen it posed before. It’s not impossible.

Perhaps we need to live with less, until the economy gets better. I suggest we start with directing staff to prepare a budget that has a zero increase in the tax levy. I suggest we conduct a staffing study in the city and see what results come in.

Reduce spending across the board. Encourage staff to think out-of-the-box, and continue to encourage cost savings. I think the public will be happy to live with a little less in order to keep taxes down, and they will have some good ideas also – seek the input of the public.

Ultimately, things will get better.

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