Red Wing mayoral candidates get bit more specificMayoral candidates Dennis Egan and Stan Nerhaugen agree on many of the ways they’d like to see city government change.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Mayoral candidates Dennis Egan and Stan Nerhaugen agree on many of the ways they’d like to see city government change.
Both men — who are vying to win Tuesday’s special election that will fill Red Wing’s vacant mayor’s office — have said they’d like the city do more to curtail spending, make Red Wing friendlier for business and work harder to include residents in decision-making.
But Egan and Nerhaugen also sought to differentiate themselves during a debate Tuesday by discussing a couple specific proposals they’d support and current policies they wouldn’t.
Red Wing Rotary Club sponsored the debate, which was held at the St. James Hotel.
“Plain and simple I want to be involved in the future planning of Red Wing,” Nerhaugen said, explaining his reasons for running for mayor.
But he doesn’t want those plans to end up on the shelf, he said.
Nerhaugen, a former high school administrator, criticized city officials for not doing enough to utilize existing studies and plans at their disposal.
Meanwhile, Egan continued his appeals to the business community.
“We need to jointly create a community that is livable, affordable and open for business,” said Egan, a self-employed lobbyist for cities and a former Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce president.
Nerhaugen agreed Red Wing must do a better job of accommodating the business community.
Both candidates criticized the city’s recent decisions to spend money on lobbying contracts and for a community survey.
“We have to live within our means,” Nerhaugen said.
Egan said a $12,500 lobbying contract was ill conceived because Red Wing’s local lawmakers were already backing the city’s wishes.
And both candidates also said they’re running out of patience with the city’s incinerator.
The facility disposes of solid waste in a way deemed more environmentally responsible than land filling. But the operation loses $500,000 a year, which is made up for with taxpayer dollars.
“It’s not a core function of the city,” Egan said. “We can’t afford to lose $300,000 when were cutting summer (recreation) programs and pool hours.”
He said he’d propose giving the operation a year to turn things around. If it doesn’t, then nix the operation, he said.
Current city officials have had similar discussions.
But they’ve also noted shutting down the incinerator could bring financial penalties from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which helped pay for the facility.
Egan also proposed setting up a youth counsel to encourage civic interest amongst young people. He also suggested the council make more community visits to garner feedback from residents.
Nerhaugen, meanwhile, said he’d encourage city officials to switch their focus from budget cuts to the things they still can do within a limited budget.
Polls for the special election open Tuesday morning. The mayoral vacancy was created by John Howe’s departure to the Minnesota Senate.