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Red Wing mayoral Q&A -- part 1

Six candidates are vying for the office of mayor at a time when Red Wing faces growing concerns over the budget, economic development and mothballed city programs.

With no primary election, voters will have less time than usual to get to know the candidates and learn where they stand on city issues ahead of the June 11 special election.

The Republican Eagle posed a questionnaire to the candidates to help voters better understand their choices.

Over the next several editions, the Republican Eagle will be publishing the candidates' responses as they were received. The only editing will be to trim answers that went over an imposed word limit, ensuring an equal opportunity for candidates to articulate their positions.

Name: Dan Bender

Age: 64

Family: Wife - DeAnna (Dee), 3 grown children

Address: 1729 Red Fox Drive, Red Wing

Education: Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, Iowa State University

Occupation: Retired (former Software Engineer for IBM, Vietnam-era veteran with US Navy)

Civic involvement: Red Wing City Council, 2009 - 2013 Volunteer and former board member at Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at Red Wing Area Food Shelf, member of United Lutheran Church. Member of Live Healthy Red Wing, 2011 - 2012 Currently serving on the Red Wing Advisory Planning Commission, the Joint Powers Recreation Board, and the Cannon Valley Trail Board. Outdoor enthusiast of biking, hiking, kayaking, and cross-country skiing.

What kind of mayor does Red Wing need and how would you fill that role? (up to 150 words)

Red Wing needs an engaged mayor to be the chief promoter of our community and to be a voice of the people. As a former city council member and an active retired person, I have the experience and time to be Red Wing's full-time mayor. I will work with the Port Authority, the Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Main Street, and others to identify and select promotional activities that enable me to effectively showcase our beautiful city and all it has to offer. I'll schedule time to be available to all citizens, collect your thoughts and concerns on issues, and use that in my decision-making. I'll work closely with the city council to ensure that proposed resolutions and ordinances meet the best interests and needs of all citizens.

What is the No. 1 issue facing Red Wing? (up to 200 words)

Red Wing is not a single-issue community. Our challenges include the sustainability of the Mississippi National Golf Links, the impact of area frac-sand mining, property taxes and spending priorities, aging city infrastructure, nuclear waste storage, the future use of the city garbage incinerator, and preservation of the rich area environment. I feel the largest challenge continues to be economic development and, specifically, downtown vitality. We need more retail shops and restaurants to fill empty storefronts. Downtown Red Wing can and should become the prime business and entertainment destination for those who live here and those who visit.

Name: Elizabeth Kocina

Age: 62

Family: Husband & 5 grown children.

Address: 1078 Cottonwood Ave., Red Wing

Education: High School, Vo-Tech, Insurance School

Occupation: Insurance licensed office manager, American Family

Civic involvement: Relay for Life, American Cancer Society, 22 years. Habitat for Humanity volunteer, 1 time/month. Volunteer at MN Corrections facility.

What kind of mayor does Red Wing need and how would you fill that role? (up to 150 words)

Sets politics to the side and listens to the citizens.

What is the No. 1 issue facing Red Wing? (up to 200 words)

Tax money and environment staying healthy.

Name: Christopher Lee Nelson

Age: 30

Family: • Wife: Crystal, married for 7 years

• Children: Danica (5), Jerica (3), & Christian (1)

Address: 109 Finrud Ave., Red Wing

Education: • AAS Degree in Law Enforcement from Alexandria Technical College

• Military Training: Combat Engineer, Interior Electrician, Warrior Leadership Course

Occupation: Armed Nuclear Security Officer

Civic involvement: • US Army Reserves, Combat Engineer (2002-2011)

• Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout (1991-2001)

What kind of mayor does Red Wing need and how would you fill that role? (up to 150 words)

With economic and political landscapes changing as time progresses in our state and country, the next mayor will have to be flexible while holding onto the long-term vision for the city and put into consideration possible changes that would affect the city in the future. As mayor I would strive to make the city of Red Wing prosperous through smart economical decisions with a disciplined budgeting mindset. As mayor I would focus on the financial and demographic trends in Red Wing in order to view the forecast of the future to address issues before it's too late. As mayor I will work towards expanding Red Wing's revenue base while keeping the city as the friendly-historical city that we all love. One of the most critical resources in Red Wing is the people and I want to involve them and work with them for the future of the city.

What is the No. 1 issue facing Red Wing? (up to 200 words)

Red Wing's number one issue at this time is the budget because it is an important link for all of the issues in Red Wing. The financial situation in Red Wing is less than ideal. At this time our budget is spinning its wheels in the mud while the city is trying to recover from the recession. Current issues are utilizing tax payer's money meaning the city has to spend time and resources on the recovery of the city before we can move forward to take on other issues. Red Wing needs to take the appropriate steps to produce a great budget. Simply spending and subsidizing our way out of our problems will not work, and will only contribute to the problems down the road. My first focus is to fix the issues dampening the budget such as the Mississippi National Golf Links, the incinerator, and any unnecessary budgeted items. Second, the city needs to improve the revenue base and not raise taxes. Currently property values in Red Wing are dropping, which will negatively affect the revenues coming into Red Wing. More business opportunities and homeowners will bring in the revenue to enhance the budget.

Name: John M. Sachen

Age: 50

Family: Jayne (Wife, married 26 years) Mallory (Daughter, Age 20, Junior at Hillsdale College. Hillsdale, Michigan). Zach (Son, Age 17, Junior at Red Wing High School).

Address: 5320 Mt. Carmel Road, Red wing

Education: Red Wing High School Graduate 1980. North Dakota State University, Inver Hills Community College, Orange Coast College, Mini Masters- Quality Systems Management and Mini Masters- International Business Management, St. Thomas University.

Occupation: Project Manager, Red Wing Shoe Company

Civic involvement: Current- Red Wing Port Authority Board Member and Finance Committee member. Red Wing Harbor Commission representative. Red Wing Youth Hockey Referee Coordinator and Official. Youth and High School Baseball referee.

Past- Red Wing Youth Baseball board member. Coached girl's softball, basketball, boy's hockey, baseball, basketball and football.

What kind of mayor does Red Wing need and how would you fill that role? (up to 150 words)

Red Wing is a great city with huge opportunities. We as citizens should be looking for a person that is willing to invest the time, effort and enthusiasm to be an ambassador for our city. We need a person willing to work collectively with all aspect of city government, current and future businesses and our citizens to mold our community. The mayor will need to balance growth and sustainability issues based on our current and projected infrastructure. Red Wing has many projects in process. These projects are being driven through many different avenues. The Mayor should have the ability to maintain effective communication with the different project leaders. All these groups are important as we shape our future. My background as a Manager and Project Manager has enabled me to hone my skills as a speaker and communicator. I have also had extensive experience in "selling" projects and gaining buy-in.

What is the No. 1 issue facing Red Wing? (up to 200 words)

Red Wing does not have one singular issue. We have many challenges that affect many people differently and picking one would be akin to saying that particular group is more important than another. I would like to provide an example of this with one issue I hear often; we need more restaurants in Red Wing. On the surface this sounds like a no brainer, who would be against this? Think about our current restaurant owners and their businesses. They have business's that are supporting our downtown with service and jobs. How would a new arrival affect them? All issues have two sides; the Mayor along with the City Council will have to be able to make balanced well informed decisions on multiple issues in the near future. I would like to list a few of them. Downtown vacancies, MNGL, mining, budgets, city marinas, library, Sheldon, and the Historical Society. I could go on and on. I entered this race with the full understanding of what challenges lie ahead. I promise to work hard and make informed decision that will benefit the whole of Red Wing.

Name: Ernest W. Stone

Age: 53 years of age

Family: Wife Anne, Son Andrew (age 29) Son Eric (age 25)

Address: 647 21st St., Red Wing

Education: West High School, Davenport, IA, 4 year apprenticeship; Master Printers of America, Decatur Electronics; licensed to teach the theory and operation of Doppler radar, Many assorted accredited courses towards electronic servicing and leadership programs.

Occupation: Maintenance Manager at Gemini, Inc.

Civic involvement: Election Judge, GOP Caucus Convener, Secretary of Red Wing Sportsmen's Club community fire arm safety and Second Amendment Rights, Treasurer of Hiawatha Valley Toastmasters local leadership training program, Member/volunteer Goodhue County Senior Executive Republican Committee

What kind of mayor does Red Wing need and how would you fill that role? (up to 150 words)

Red Wing requires an honest, open minded and fair Mayor. As the Ambassador to Red Wing it will be my duty to learn the plans, goals and vision from the City's Staff, City Council members to the diverse perceptions of every resident. As Mayor, I will work with neighboring mayors and cities to enhance all resources.

What is the No. 1 issue facing Red Wing? (up to 200 words)

Silica Sand Mining. This issue has divided our City and has done so in a grievous way. This complicated issue brought the shameful end to a decent Mayor. Let me be clear, the shame is in how he was treated. This outcome only reinforced the misrepresented and demonized issue. Mining of silica sand has been banned in the City Limits. I feel this to be wise. However, the legal ramification of banning this industry County wide or State wide will not hold up in Federal court. Let's put the emotions and misinformation aside so we can reveal all the facts. This is not only practical for Red Wing, but Goodhue County, Minnesota and America too.

Name: Samantha Tix

Age: 33

Family: Married, one child.

Address: 3309 South Service Drive, Red Wing

Education: Red Wing Schools

Occupation: Homemaker

Civic involvement: Current Red Wing Amateur Hockey Association Board Member (past manager and assistant coach). Head coach of the Twin Bluff Middle School "Girls on Track" track and field program. Reading teacher. Ypal volunteer at the YMCA. Ducks Unlimited. Red Wing Wildlife League.

What kind of mayor does Red Wing need and how would you fill that role? (up to 150 words)

We need a mayor who wants to help people and has a clear vision for our future. Red Wing has always been a big, extended family. We genuinely care about each other. I will bring a concerned, listening ear combined with a new perspective and a focused plan to help Red Wing thrive, while keeping our beautiful community a safe place to live. I will be a strong voice for Red Wing families. If I am elected, I promise never to forget that I serve the people, and that I am in office because they gave me the chance to demonstrate that I could improve their lives.

What is the No. 1 issue facing Red Wing? (up to 200 words)

There is a profound lack of trust and communication between residents and city government. As mayor, I will address this problem first and continuously. Important decisions need to be made in the near future. The answers will come from the people we serve if we just listen! Examples:

1. Solid waste handling is a constant drain on the general fund and we need to focus on a long term solution.

2. We must decide the fate of the Mississippi National Golf Links. There are stark differences that are going to require leadership that can bring people together.

3. Our City's infrastructure is under constant assault from the weather and general use. Our roads, water and sewer systems need upgrades that will not be paid for easily. It is time for a twenty year infrastructure plan that includes realistic cost projections and the flexibility to deal with unforeseen problems.

4. Although we have a strong frac sand mining ordinance in place in Red Wing, the effects of sand mining outside our borders will impact every local family. Red Wing must be represented as other government entities create their policies in order to protect our air, water, bluffs and local tourism economy.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875