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

Winsted City Council

Bonnie Quast*

Why are you running for Winsted City Council?

I am running again because I know, that as a member of the Winsted City Council, we made decisions on behalf of the citizens that we thought were in their best interest. I also feel my past years as a council member speak for themselves. I will continue to work for, and with the citizens of Winsted.

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

Taxes; finding ways to cut corners without neglecting the importance of projects that affect this town. No one likes taxes, but they are needed to make this town what it is, and can be in the future.

Helping the businesses we have, and looking for more companies that may want to come to this town. Revitalization of the downtown area would be a real plus.

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

We have already cut our budget to zero. We now have a couple of months to find more ways – if any – to make additional cuts, while making sure we don’t cheat the people of the necessities and amenities they deserve and are so proud of. Winsted is a great town, and I want it to stay that way.

Tom Ollig*

Why are you running for Winsted City Council?

I am running for Winsted City Council, simply put, because I enjoy it. I like being a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. I enjoy working with people, listening to both sides, and making decisions.

I am conservative by nature, I have no hidden agenda, and I am proud of our community.

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

There are many important decisions that will need to be made over the next few years. Since the next question asks about cutting costs (taxes), I will identify the top two issues as downtown revitalization and expansion of our industrial park.

Downtown revitalization – over the years, the city has built up a substantial revolving loan fund, which can be used by the city for the purpose of economic development.

The city council will need to work with either the economic development authority or a local development organization to identify how these funds will best be used in concert with the Downtown Vibrancy Task Force report and its recommendations.

The report identifies the downtown strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We will need to consider all of these areas, form a plan, move forward, and spend our dollars wisely. It will require creative thinking on our part, and reviewing what other communities have done that has worked and has not worked.

We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, however, we do need to get off square-one and move forward with a vision, plan, and purpose.

Expansion of industrial park – our industrial park has been a great success. Over the past 12 years, many new businesses have moved to Winsted, bringing with them jobs which feed the local economy, and also bringing a larger tax base to our community. This, in turn, helps to keep residential taxes lower.

As a city, we need to identify property to expand, commission a study to determine the cost of expansion, and explore how best to utilize the property and how to pay for it.

The city regularly receives requests from businesses looking to move from their existing location, and as of now, we are unable to accommodate those requests.

What specifically can the city do to cut costs and operate efficiently, while still maintaining service to taxpayers?

Over the past few years, we have seen a reduction in local government aid to the city. Decisions to cut expenses and increase non-tax revenue opportunities have been developed by the council to accommodate those cuts.

As we develop the tax levy for 2013, I have been a proponent of cutting our 2013 tax levy at least 3 percent, in order to stay ahead of future local government aid reductions. This can be achieved by reviewing employee benefits and wages, efficiencies in our police and public works departments, reviewing capital expenses, reviewing timelines for future street projects, and reviewing revenue-generating opportunities (cost-causing fees) that would not affect taxes.

The city cannot control what the county or school district does regarding their tax levies and its effect on taxes. The city also does not control valuations of property, however, I believe the council has a responsibility of maintaining or reducing expenses and making the hard decisions, just as any good business would do.

Mike Thonvold

Why are your running for Winsted City Council?

A city council position would give me the opportunity to serve my community and protect the values and things that I love about Winsted. It is time for new council members, who will bring fresh ears and direction to our community forum.

While serving as a volunteer firefighter on the Winsted Fire Department, I’ve been able to meet the citizens of Winsted, and get to know their concerns and needs. The citizens of Winsted need community volunteers and a city council that enables them to be successful.

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

The top two issues facing the city of Winsted are low employment opportunities, and a lack of local businesses.

Business leaders and the city council must work together to create a healthy atmosphere for existing, as well as new businesses.

Creating local employment for our citizens is accomplished by business tax incentives, infrastructure, and people.

The bones of our downtown area are hurting. Continued support for our downtown buildings, sidewalks, and streets will bring businesses and people to Winsted.

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

Develop new or increased revenue opportunities at the Winsted Airport that will offset city expenses. The Winsted Airport is an asset that most towns do not have.

Dirk Anderson

Why are you running for Winsted City Council?

Having lived in or near Winsted most of my life, I would like to give back some of the good life that I have experienced here.

I have been employed for 12 years with the Wright County Highway Maintenance Department. Previously, I traveled extensively as a field tech with Sterner Lighting. I have visited many communities, and I know Winsted is a special place.

I want to help preserve its good qualities, and correct those things that stand in the way of its vitality and growth. I would like to be a part of changing the atmosphere for small businesses, and encouraging the use of our resources. I believe it’s time for fresh ideas and viewpoints on the city council.

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

First of all, we need to do something about our downtown buildings.

We cannot compete with the metro area for shopping and entertainment, but I think we should take a look at other small, thriving towns and see how they are handling this issue.

I would like to encourage specialty stores. It would be nice to have a hardware store in town. Perhaps, it could offer bike rentals, promoting the Luce Line trail. That could mesh with the city marketing our assets, such as the parks and the promenade.

We need to support the small businesses already here, and I would welcome their input on how we can do that.

The second issue is the tax levy.

We need to look down every avenue to find ways to keep it manageable for our population. We have to examine closely what we need, versus what we want; and the people need to be able to express their views openly on this issue.

I don’t know all the answers, but I am willing to listen, and will work hard for solutions.

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

We need to examine our current expenditures. There are always ways to streamline operations. I have experience with infrastructure maintenance, and believe I can put forth ideas to support our services while cutting costs.

Again, in these tough times, we need to look at spending where it is needed, versus where it is wanted.

I think we need new input and new decision-making on budget issues, and I want to do that for the community.

Brian Currey

This candidate did not submit answers to the questions sent him by Herald Journal.

Joel Hirsch

Why are you running for Winsted City Council?

I am a graduate of Holy Trinity, and have been a homeowner in Winsted for 25 years.

The opportunity to run for council is there for everyone, and it is good to see that more individuals are willing to get involved. It may be the state of politics across the nation that prompted me to run.

The more thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and opinions that reach city hall the better. I hope to bring these from a broader segment of the population of Winsted.

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

Probably the top two for every city – debt and taxes.

The general levy (cost to run the city/provide services) seems to rise every year. I realize that when the cost of everything, from gas, healthcare, insurance, etc. goes up, that our cost to run the city will go up.

Somewhere/sometime a line needs to be drawn. We need to cut the cost of government, while maintaining the basic services people expect.

The debt levy is projected to increase by approximately 28 percent in 2016, according to city administrator’s figures.

Do people realize that it will still take 15 years to pay off the public works building, and 24 more years to pay for the city hall building?

The tax base of the city needs to be increased to be able to handle the increased debt. A new industrial park may be an option for that. The cuts in local government aid will probably not be restored anytime soon, due to the state budget problems.

The city must be business friendly and encourage/ promote growth without excessive rules and regulations.

The downtown area has a lot of empty businesses. Low interest loans and/or grants may be available and have been offered in the past to make downtown a more attractive area, both for current and future businesses.

The promenade looks great (maybe we could have our town celebration/fireworks there and utilize this area).

I do not know the inner workings of city hall, but am willing to learn. To pass a budget takes a lot of hard work, to be sure. I am willing to try, and to “draw the line” if needed.

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

Need to explore the possibility of shared services with other communities/agencies to reduce spending.

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