City candidates 'an agreeable bunch'Mostly the candidates agreed.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Mostly the candidates agreed.
Those vying for seats on the Red Wing City Council fielded questions during a League of Women Voters candidate forum held Thursday at City Hall. Audience members provided the questions, some 35 people attended, and the topics ranged from the city's budget to economic development to raising chickens within city limits.
On most the issues, the candidates more or less saw eye to eye.
"What an agreeable bunch of candidates," moderator Pat Sween said. Sween is not a member of the league.
@Sub heads:The budget, the budget, the budget
@Normal1: The biggest issue facing the council, the candidates agree, is the budget.
So did those who asked the questions. Of the 11 posed during Thursday's forum, four questions directly related to the city budget and a number of others related to the budget.
When it came to new ways to raise revenue, Council President Mike Schultz, who is running unopposed in Ward 3, suggested implementing new fees, while keeping the property tax levy flat.
Ward 1- 2 candidates, incumbent Dean Hove and challenger John Sachen said they would oppose new fees. Hove said people are "sick and tired" of them, and Sachen said he thought they would be "counterproductive."
Candidates agreed selling Mississippi National Golf Links is a good idea, but that Red Wing should hang onto the Colvill Aquatic Center.
Ward 4 candidates Dan Johnson and Peggy Rehder -- who are going after the seat Jerry Cook will vacate in December -- disagreed somewhat on the city's decision to place 200 acres of city-owned riverfront into a conservation easement.
Johnson said he flat-out liked the decision council made earlier this year. Rehder said the issue should have been put to a referendum so citizens could have voted on the issue.
@Sub Heads:More than just positions
@Normal1: Ward 2 resident Bruce Geary said the candidates were pretty even in their ability to field questions.
"I thought they were pretty close," Geary said, adding he thought Hove outshined Sachen early, but that Sachen finished strong.
League member Heidi Jones said the forum does more than just show where candidates stand on the issues. She said it demonstrates how they reason and how they communicate and how they deal with stress.
"My hat is off to anyone who gets up there," Jones said.
@Sub heads:Schulenberg absent; Meinke excluded
@Normal1: Not all the candidates were on display, however.
At-large council candidate Dustin Schulenberg didn't make Thursday's forum because of scheduling conflict with his work. He said it was important that he be at work on Thursday.
"Any other day would have been fine, but today was just not a good day," Schulenberg said.
Therefore his counterpart, Marilyn Meinke, also could not participate in the forum.
The League plans to air the forum on Red Wing's public access channel and that means the forum was bound to Federal Communication Commission rules, said local President Marm Nihart.
Nihart said the league could not under FCC rules give more airtime to one candidate then another.
Meinke was present for Thursday's forum.
"I'm terribly disappointed," Meinke said. She added, "It really isn't fair to the voters."
She said she found out that she would be held out of the forum Thursday morning while she preparing for the event.
Nihart said there has been discussion of holding another candidate forum for the At-large race.