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Candidate Q&As: Red Wing City Council at-large

Three candidates are hoping to represent the city as a whole on the Red Wing City Council.

Erik Fridell, Kalista Kaufmann-Willi and Dustin Schulenberg are on the ballot for the at-large seat in the Aug. 12 primary election, which will bring the race to two for the fall general election.

Current at-large City Council member Marilyn Meinke, who served one term, said this spring she will not run again.

The City Council also has another primary race in Ward 4, and two other spots that will be on the November ballot.

Read on to learn about the Red Wing City Council at-large candidates.

Name: Erik C. Fridell

Age: 40

Address: 503 Summit Ave., Red Wing

Occupation: Pro Shop & Food/Beverage Associate, Gopher Hills Golf Course, Miesville

Education: Sustainable management, University of Wisconsin-Extension

Family: single

Civic involvement: Red Wing Sustainability commissioner (former)

What sets you apart from the other at-large City Council candidates?

I believe that my term on the Sustainability Commission authoring a large portion of the frac sand ordinance has given me unique insight into how administrative portions of city government functions. I had the benefit of working alongside numerous cross-sections of Red Wing including city staff, city councilpersons and citizen activists throughout the last few years.

The at-large position is unique in that it represents the whole city rather than a specific ward. What does that mean to you?

It is quite evident that different wards in town have vastly different areas of import to its inhabitants and to the city as a whole. An at-large candidate should have a sharp ability to hear the needs of downtown to Burnside to the Twin Bluff area to Colvill, amongst other areas, through a lens that represents all of Red Wing to effectively be a leader for its citizenry.

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

My priority is simply to hear the needs of the people as a representative for all of Red Wing without taking on personal pet projects or favoring special-interest factions. I pledge, as I have always done concerning city matters, to challenge leaders to be transparent in governing, to not follow personal political ambition for personal gain, to embrace real civic innovation as an essential goal instead of being satisfied with sloganeering as the end result of successful government.

Multitudes of citizens have different “top priorities” and I wouldn't feel I have accomplished anything if I adhered to my personal priorities. Being an activist is a completely different role. One should be heard and then listen. That is not my job as a representative. I need to listen and then be heard.

Name: Kalista Kafmann-Willi

Age: 32

Address: 1047 Birch Ave.

Occupation: Store manager, Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet Red Wing

Education: Medical Institute of Minnesota

Family: Husband Pete Willi; daughter, Lauren, will be 3 in October.

Civic involvement: Active in coordinating fundraising events for multiple non-profit organizations

What sets you apart from the other at-large City Council candidates?

As a small business manager in Red Wing, I have firsthand experience in successfully navigating my store through the economic downturn of the past six years, and still experiencing growth. My ability to listen to, understand and ultimately find solutions to customer concerns are what my success in management has been built on. I feel my customer service and management background are great assets for our City Council. The council needs to embrace more of a customer service approach to finding solutions that work for all of Red Wing.

I bring experience in solving complex problems that I can utilize to combat Red Wing’s existing and future challenges. This experience comes from growing up on a small organic farm in rural Wisconsin, being an Army Reservist and living and working in both large and small communities.

The at-large position is unique in that it represents the whole city rather than a specific ward. What does that mean to you?

As the at-large representative, I need to focus on how each decision will impact all of the community, not just one ward or one group of residents. If a new manufacturing facility wants to open in Burnside, with the intent of hiring entry-level workers, we need to ensure their transportation needs are met. Otherwise we may not fully realize the economic gains of the new development.

Being the at-large representative means I will be held to a much higher standard for actively engaging and regularly meeting with all community members across Red Wing. As the at-large representative I will be actively engaging my constituents on a regular basis to ensure I am on top of the concerns of the community. I will be communicating by social media, update emails and regular neighborhood walks to help ensure I remain connected with all of Red Wing.

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

My top priority will be clearing the way for businesses to start and grow in Red Wing. I will approach this through collaboration with all stakeholders in the community. We need all agencies working together to grow Red Wing’s economy.

Improving collaboration with the school district, county and private business will allow us as a community to grow. We will have our greatest success working together.

I would also like to review our zoning and permitting processes to ensure we are not inadvertently stopping growth with our policies.

Growing tourism is a very important piece of economic growth, especially for our local retailers and restaurants. Community branding and marketing are important elements to growing our local economy.

When we get our local economy growing, we will have more financial resources available to address the substantial infrastructure and capital improvement needs within the city, with a minimal tax burden.

Name: Dustin J. Schulenberg

Age: 38

Address: 1057 Birch Ave.

Occupation: Xcel Energy electrical planner

Education: 1994 Red Wing Central high school and IBEW night school in Rochester for five years to become a licensed electrician

Family: Wife Angie, son Alek and daughter Taylor

Civic involvement: Red Wing Elks Lodge 845, Red Wing Hockey Association, Red Wing Soccer Association and United Way

What sets you apart from the other at-large City Council candidates?

I ran for this seat four years ago, coming in second in what began as a very crowded field of candidates. I have already had the chance to listen to the voters. I understand that they want local government to live within its means. I know they want a vibrant local economy that produces good jobs with benefits. I understand that our residents want Red Wing to continue to be a safe, beautiful place to raise a family. I got the people’s message that we must move forward with respect for our natural setting and architectural heritage. I am ready to bring that perspective to our City Council.

The at-large position is unique in that it represents the whole city rather than a specific ward. What does that mean to you?

It means I need to knock on more doors and listen more. If the people choose me to represent them, I plan to work harder than anyone to be sure my votes on the City Council reflect the views of everyone.

The at-large seat was designed to be the “tie-breaker” seventh vote — the one City Council member who is accountable to all voters and must take the broad view in public policy questions. I will be asking: What is the greatest good for all of Red Wing?

What would be your top priority if you were elected and why?

My top priority is maintaining our quality of life by keeping taxes low, public safety strong and building our economy. The Main Street reconstruction project will help boost our tax base by making Red Wing a more attractive place to do business. New investment will bring more good jobs and greater tax revenues for the city, which will keep taxes down for homeowners and allow for new investment in public safety.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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