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Red Wing mayoral Q & A -- part 3

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news Red Wing, 55066
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Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

In less than two weeks, citizens will vote to elect a new mayor for the city of Red Wing.

The Republican Eagle posed a questionnaire to the six mayoral candidates to help voters better understand their choices before the June 11 special election.

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In this third installment, the candidates were asked to outline their idea of the mayor's role in city government, and how they would go about appointing members to city boards and commissions.

Responses are printed without editing as they were received from the candidates.

Dan Bender

This is a "weak" mayor system, but with veto power. How would you wield that?

In our form of city government the "strength" of the office is determined by the knowledge, time, visibility and effort exhibited by the mayor. As a promoter of our unique community, and as an honest, unbiased voice of the people, I will be a strong advocate for Red Wing and its citizens.

If the mayoral veto is used, I view it as a communication failure between the mayor and the City Council. The mayor needs to work closely with the city council to ensure that all proposed ordinances and resolutions are fully and openly discussed and meet the best interests of the people of Red Wing. This needs to occur before a deciding vote is taken. However, when I feel that a particular ordinance or resolution is still not in the best interest of our community, I will not hesitate to veto.

How would you go about choosing people to serve on city boards and commissions?

Choosing knowledgeable, competent and committed people to serve Red Wing is one of the important duties of the mayor. I will review applications and utilize the contacts I have made as a citizen and City Council member to recruit and select appointees that will help achieve the goals of our city. I also want to renew and build upon the spirit of volunteer service within our community and work together with the new city Volunteer Coordinator to expand this important effort.

Elizabeth Kocina

This is a "weak" mayor system, but with veto power. How would you wield that?

Only if the community had concerns and it would not be beneficial to the city and community.

How would you go about choosing people to serve on city boards and commissions?

Talk to them and make sure they are sincere about their commitments.

Christopher Nelson

This is a "weak" mayor system, but with veto power. How would you wield that?

Checks and balances is a wonderful tool in our federal, state, and local governments if used correctly. As mayor there would be two reasons I would utilize my veto power. The first reason would be due to legal issues and the second would be for financial reasons.

Legal issues would arise, for an example, if an ordinance or resolution contained language that would be illegal or not legally sound to current state and federal laws, statutes, and constitutional rights. Also veto powers would have to be utilized if an ordinance or resolution is counter to an existing ordinance or resolution, unless there was language contained that would replace the prior.

As mayor I would also be responsible for approving the city's budget and with that the mayor position would be able to veto the budget as a whole or any item. As a father and husband, I would not put my family in financial jeopardy and neither would I put Red Wing. The city has a general fund and within that, it has an unassigned amount to go towards any project that comes up, and that also has to be used with discipline.

How would you go about choosing people to serve on city boards and commissions?

The process with choosing a person for a board or commission starts with a Board/Commission Appointment Application Form. As mayor it would be my responsibility to make recommendations to the City Council on applicants to fill the open slots on the city boards and commissions.

First, I would start with the applicants and review the applications. On the applications, I am looking to see if their background information matches the city boards or commissions that they are interested in. I would verify if the applicant meets the resident criteria put forth in the city charter.

Second, I would interview the applicants to get to know the applicant better. I would verify the applicant's ability to commit to the meetings. I would contact people who know the applicant to gather more information.

Third, I would make my decision and if I am convinced the applicant is appropriate for the city then I would make my recommendation to the City Council.

As mayor I plan to frequent the meetings to view the progress and teamwork that is happening within the boards and commissions. How those groups are performing will be important with future openings.

John Sachen

This is a "weak" mayor system, but with veto power. How would you wield that?

This is an awesome responsibility and one that should not be over-used or abused. Our city government was set up to have the City Council be the major decision makers for a reason. I plan on being an active mayor that participates in all the same meetings that the council does. I will not hesitate to share your opinions as well as my own with the council at every available opportunity. I am a good judge of character and have the ability to observe people and the comfort level they have on an issue. If I sensed that an issue being voted on was not in the best interest of Red Wing and there was a split amongst the council, I may veto a decision in order to ensure the council has not rushed to a decision. If I am doing my job as mayor correctly, vetoes should be few and far between. I also need to understand there will be times that I may need to agree to disagree with council and go on to the next issue.

How would you go about choosing people to serve on city boards and commissions?

There is a good process in place to choose board and commission members. I went through the process myself for the Port Authority. I would follow the current process and hopefully as more and more people become engaged in the political process, the time to fill a vacancy will be reduced.

Ernest Stone

This is a "weak" mayor system, but with veto power. How would you wield that?

With all due respect, it would be a weak system only if I chose to let it be. We make of it what we put into it. I choose to give it my all. Respectful negotiations will be my first course of action, but it is clear to me that my priorities differ greatly from our current council's. I certainly do not view this as a "wielding of power." I view in more as a useful tool. A tool that I have no problem using as often as required to get the job done right.

How would you go about choosing people to serve on city boards and commissions?

My first criteria would be for the nominee to be a resident of Red Wing. I would need strong persuasion to convince me that we need to look elsewhere for a talent pool. I will look through past committee rosters to review past nominee qualifications. I will consider residents that are recommended or have expressed interest in filling the seat of any given committee. Knowing the strengths of a member who is stepping down will help in a search as would understanding weakness on the board. This is easily solved by maintaining a respectful relationship with each member.

Samantha Tix

This is a "weak" mayor system, but with veto power. How would you wield that?

I hope to wield the veto pen lightly, because collaborative decisions will come from working together with citizens and the City Council. However, the veto should be used when the mayor has the sense that the wishes of the people are not being met. For example, a tax hike that is unreasonable and unaffordable. The mayor is the last line of defense for the people against bad public policy.

How would you go about choosing people to serve on city boards and commissions?

I would actively recruit citizens to get involved in local government, and try to match talents to available positions. I would always consider how the resident wants to contribute to Red Wing's future success. For example, I may recognize someone has skills that would make them a good fit for a particular board, but they would prefer to serve on another. I would give them the chance to grow and learn by serving on the board they are most interested in.

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Michael Brun
Michael Brun is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program. He has worked for the Republican Eagle since March 2013, covering county government, health and local events. 
(651) 301-7875
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