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Red Wing mayoral Q&A -- part 2

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Red Wing mayoral Q&A -- part 2
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

The Red Wing mayoral special election is Tuesday June 11, and voters will have to decide which of the six candidates will help lead the city into the future.

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In this second installment of a multipart series, the Republican Eagle asked candidates to outline their first months in office and to disclose any conflicts of interest that could affect their role as mayor.

Responses are published as they were received from the candidates.

Dan Bender

What would you do in your first six months in office?

I plan to:

• set mayor's "office hours" to be available at City Hall, and establish and hold "community conversations" with the people of Red Wing.

• strengthen the connections with economic development related agencies (Port Authority, VCB, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Main Street, business incubators) to strategize new ideas for effective economic development.

• re-establish regular meetings with the Prairie Island Indian Community to discuss common goals and challenges.

• re-engage Red Wing 20/20 as a mayor's advisory group.

• review the city/county emergency response plans to become familiar with the mayor's role in emergency situations. My experience on the city council has provided me an orientation to city government, so I will be able to "hit the ground running" as the mayor.

This special election is a direct result of conflicting duties and opinions. What personal/professional interests do you have and how might they affect your service as mayor?

My personal interests have centered on organizations and activities that strengthen citizens' quality of life. Like many others, I volunteer at Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity and the Red Wing Area Food Shelf. As a member of the City Council, I was fortunate to have been part of Live Healthy Red Wing, focusing on community improvement through physical activity and better nutrition. My concerns for the well-being and safety of all Red Wing citizens will continue to enhance and drive my decisions as mayor.

Elizabeth Kocina

What would you do in your first six months in office?

Listen to citizens and be their voice at the city.

This special election is a direct result of conflicting duties and opinions. What personal/professional interests do you have and how might they affect your service as mayor?

None.

Christopher Nelson

What would you do in your first six months in office?

There are two areas I would like to focus on in the first six months as mayor.

First, I would perform my duties as described in the city charter and other governing legal documents. The first six months will take us to the end of the year and there are important matters coming up such as the 2014 budget, road construction on Highway 61 by Colvill Park, and receiving resolution to key parts to moving forward on the incinerator issue.

Second, I desire to develop a solid rapport and working relationship within the many working parts of the city government. Starting out as a new mayor I plan to engage in communication with key individuals and groups to ensure consistent goals and outcomes. I plan to continue strong communication throughout my term. With experience in the military, I've learned knowledge is power and communication is the key to success on the battlefield and at home.

This special election is a direct result of conflicting duties and opinions. What personal/professional interests do you have and how might they affect your service as mayor?

I am currently employed by G4S, a security company, at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant (PINGP) which is operated by Xcel Energy. Red Wing uses Xcel facilities that are located in Red Wing for energy production. People may find this as a conflict, but I assure that there will be no conflict between my position at PINGP and Red Wing, as Red Wing comes first. Also with my occupation I do not hold any positions that influence the operations or management of G4S, PINGP or Xcel.

John Sachen

What would you do in your first six months in office?

To be honest, I have already started. I think it is very important to learn the current state and how things are getting done before you suggest or attempt to make any changes. In the past two month I have made the effort to go to as many board and commission meetings as my schedule has allowed. I want to understand what the issues are for the boards and commissions and how they interact. By election time, I hope to have attended all board and commission meetings at least once. Remember, one key responsibility of the Mayor is to appoint board members and commissioners. It is paramount to understand each role before making such an appointment. I have also met with the Chamber and asked how they have interacted with past mayors. We talked about what worked and what did not. I also asked what future expectations they had. I will continue these efforts to communicate and assist in any way possible throughout my term. I would also like each board and commission to review the comprehensive plan and how it affects them. We all need to paddle together to get to our destination.

This special election is a direct result of conflicting duties and opinions. What personal/professional interests do you have and how might they affect your service as mayor?

I work for Red Wing Shoe Company and believe they have and always had the reputation for putting our community first. This is one of the reasons I left my previous job and wanted to be a part of the "Shoe" team. I have been privileged to sit in meetings where the senior leadership team has debated long term strategies. One thing I can assure you is the question of how it will affect the city of Red Wing always comes up and has a major impact on any decision. Having said that, as Mayor I will not be able to participate in conversations pertaining to RWSC. As you know, the Mayor does not have the power to vote so that will not be an issue. The Mayor does have veto power; I will leave all decisions pertaining to RWSC to the City Council and never use the veto on behalf of RWSC.

Ernest Stone

What would you do in your first six months in office?

In my first six minutes, I will need to learn what tentative schedule is on the books. During my first six hours, I will need to learn the status of commission and board members. There are vacant positions and possibly people stepping down early. For my first six days, I will need to learn the prioritized projects list from the city staff and Council members. In my first six weeks I will craft a plan to make all this happen in a smooth efficient manner. This being executed, I will spend the balance focusing on bring good paying jobs to Red Wing.

This special election is a direct result of conflicting duties and opinions. What personal/professional interests do you have and how might they affect your service as mayor?

I am truly pleased that so many people stepped forward to take on the challenge of being Mayor of Red Wing. The good residents of Red Wing received a gift being able to choose from six candidates with a vast array of talent. Yet as any good leader would suggest, please, choose wisely. Who I am, the lessons I have learned and all the skills I bear have nothing but positive potential for the city I call home. The post of mayor comes with great responsibility and not to be taken lightly. My goal is to honor the residents as well as the city of Red Wing itself. Too many issues burden this area. We no longer have time for misplaced trust.

Samantha Tix

What would you do in your first six months in office?

I am planning a "listening tour" to get as many ideas as possible and restore trust in local government. We can get back the sense of community that Red Wing is known for. We just need leadership that recognizes the great pride we all take in making Red Wing a great place to live.

I will also create a Blue Ribbon panel to consider the fate of the Mississippi National Golf Links.

I will seek state grant money to help offset the costs of local solid waste disposal as we design a strategy that will allow solid waste disposal to pay for itself.

I will work for a new, long-term infrastructure plan with the goals of improving the services city government provides and saving tax money. I will represent the citizens of Red Wing at meetings whenever frac sand mining policies are being created by state and other local governments in order to protect our residents.

This special election is a direct result of conflicting duties and opinions. What personal/professional interests do you have and how might they affect your service as mayor?

I do not have any personal or professional conflicts. I will treat each issue in an unbiased way. For example, I would have done everything possible to allow the Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation to present their revised proposal for the future of the Mississippi National Golf Links to the City Council.

Every American understands that we cannot always have our way, but we all have the right to have our say. Civic leaders have a responsibility to respect the rights of citizens and ensure that they are upheld.

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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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