Name: Jason Sebion
Occupation: Service technician for Division 23 Mechanical Services
Education: Red Wing High School graduate. Completed heating, air conditioning and ventilation program at Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Red Wing.
Family: My wife, Ramona, and I have two elementary school-age children.
Civic involvement: Neighborhood meetings.
What is the biggest issue facing Red Wing right now?
The incinerator was set up as an enterprise fund which would pay for itself. Right now, property taxes are paying some of the bill because the amount of garbage we receive from local communities has gone down along with the price per ton.
The proposal to mothball the incinerator will come before the City Council for a vote. I am not convinced that is our best choice. I want to look at the costs to restart if burning at the Red Wing Xcel plant does not work out. Also, there is the cost of the shredder required to get the garbage in the form Xcel requires.
The best deal for Red Wing taxpayers may be to keep the incinerator open, since state mandates may increase the demand for incineration from the Twin Cities.
What would you bring to the City Council?
I will bring a new perspective from a younger generation, along with local knowledge. I live in the same neighborhood where I was born. I know the people. We all want to maintain our small-town atmosphere and keep Red Wing a great place for families.
I want to be the council member that all residents feel comfortable calling with any concerns. My wife and I are facing the same tough financial decisions as other local families. We keep a close eye on our tax bill. I understand what people are going through because I am going through it too.
What would be your highest priority or priorities if elected to the City Council?
I hope to put the plan for a new fire station in Burnside back on track. Equal access to public safety should be fundamental. Red Wing is serving the needs of citizens as far away as Prairie Island. We need to make sure everyone can get the immediate help they need in any emergency.
What are your thoughts on revenue options such as the proposed local option sales tax?
Had I been on the City Council, I would have voted against putting the local option sales tax on the ballot. Each council member who voted “yes” put their de facto seal of approval on the new tax and the package of projects planned for the money raised. Saying their vote was “to let the people decide” was an attempt to avoid responsibility.
While I like that visitors would be paying toward the city services they use, the money raised could not go toward tax relief for Red Wing residents. The local option sales tax will increase the overall tax burden for the citizens of Red Wing because by state law it cannot be used for property tax reduction. A bigger tax bill will hurt Red Wing families that are still struggling, so I cannot support it.
What is an issue or concern you think needs more public discussion?
The residents I have spoken with agree that the concept of imposing a higher local sales tax should have been a major public discussion.
Public opinion was sought on new projects to spend the local option sales tax money on, without asking citizens the more important fundamental question: Is a local option sales tax a good idea?
Putting the local option sales tax on the ballot indicates that a majority of current council members are out of touch with the people. During a recent candidate forum, all council members up for re-election this year said they did not think a higher sales tax will discourage people from shopping in Red Wing. I have not talked to a single small business owner who shares this opinion.
I intend to work very hard toward meaningful communication between residents and the City Council.