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Candidate Q&A: Red Wing city council Ward 2

With three candidates vying for the Red Wing City Council seat representing Ward 2, voters in the primary election Aug. 9 will select between John Becker, Greg Boek and Adam Matthew Gettings. Two then will advance to the city’s general election Tuesday Nov. 8.

Becker, who moved to Red Wing to open Red Wing Framing & Fine Art Printing 15 years ago, co-founded the Red Wing Innovation Incubator and has been involved with Friends of the Sheldon Theatre, Downtown Main Street and the mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel for Economic Development.

Boek, a reactor operator of 16 years at the Prairie Island nuclear plant, is a member of the Commemorative Air Force and volunteers throughout the year at the Flemming Field hangar in South St. Paul and throughout the country.

Gettings, an entrepreneur and board member with several Silicon Valley companies, is involved with Red Wing Ignite and is working to launch an agriculture technology company in Red Wing.

BeckerBecker: Grow local economy

What are the primary issues you hope to address on City Council and how will you respond to them?

1. Healthy and welcoming neighborhoods.

A community is as healthy as the sum of the neighborhoods. Red Wing has a rich history of volunteerism and this can be encouraged at the neighborhood level with block captains, block parties and and ”adopt-a-neighbor” programs. This is also an excellent opportunity for social media at the local level.

We have seen the importance of neighbor-helping-neighbor during the recent severe storms. The city can facilitate these efforts without having to manage it, because it doesn’t work if it needs to be managed.

2. Creative economic development.

I am an advocate for a “bottom-up” economic development strategy in Red Wing.

The Minnesota economy has grown 70 percent since 2000 and Red Wing has been nearly flat. It isn’t practical to continue to assume we can “import” prosperity by attracting a major employer. A “top-down” strategy doesn’t work in 2016.

Red Wing is rich in cultural and natural assets. This is unique to our community and it can be leveraged to create an environment that is “entrepreneur friendly” and we can grow our own economy.

Red Wing is all about authenticity and we can work with people who are already here who want to live in Red Wing, contribute to the community, and grow their businesses.

How would you apply your experience, community involvement and qualifications to your duties on the council?

I am a big believer in community involvement. I enjoy it and I hope to see my children and their children become involved in their own communities when they have the opportunity.

My community involvement has included; 15 years as a local business owner, Board of director roles in several local non-profit organizations, including: Red Wing Downtown Main Street, The Friends of the Sheldon Theatre, The Red Wing Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Economic Development, The Red Wing Innovation Incubator, Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC).

The SEMAC position has been especially enjoyable because it is all about bringing state money that Red Wing taxpayers have paid, back to the community. These are all positions of leadership and I am comfortable making difficult decisions.

What opportunities will you provide Red Wing residents to reach out to you and voice their input?

Listening and social media. But mostly lots and lots of listening. I like the idea of reviving Red Wing City Council coffee clutch listening sessions. This was a very effective way for citizens to communicate directly with City Council in a relaxed environment and it is easy to implement.

It is a lost art to have polite discussions with people of differing opinions. These kind of discussions need to be encouraged and it is especially effective when it is courteous and respectful.

Social media can be leveraged at the neighborhood level. The recent storm damage is an example of how social media communications at the neighbor level benefits the entire community.

How would you address controversial business proposals that come before the council like the gun range proposed by a former council member?

The gun range project exposed the lack of a long-term vision by the Port Authority for this very high profile property, which is remarkable, but for all of the wrong reasons.

I have concerns about the Red Wing Port Authority and how taxpayer money is being spent.

I am not seeing the level of accountability I would expect and the tough questions are not being asked.

This is an expensive organization and they are now preparing to increase the tax levy ceiling. It is time for an honest and a public re-evaluation about the direction of the Red Wing economy and it needs to include all elements of the community.

BoekBoek: Build on opportunities

What are the primary issues you hope to address on City Council and how will you respond to them?

Maintaining the small town feel of Red Wing while expanding opportunities for new business growth will be the main focus of my service. I will also seek to promote Red Wing as a tourism destination as well as the place people want to call home for generations.

How would you apply your experience, community involvement and qualifications to your duties on the council?

Over our 16 plus years in Red Wing I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many people from very diverse backgrounds. Each one has something to offer when it comes to what makes Red Wing special and I value the contribution from everyone.

Due to my training in the nuclear industry I take a very pragmatic approach to facing challenges. Prioritizing multiple issues based on what needs the greatest attention and focusing resources to deal with those concerns while soliciting input and feedback characterize my approach to problem solving.

What opportunities will you provide Red Wing residents to reach out to you and voice their input?

First of all my phone number is listed and I would encourage people to call me with any of their questions and concerns.

I am also fairly active on social media. I have started a Facebook group that I will use for my candidacy and after the election (if selected) will continue to use during my term as another avenue for people to contact me with their thoughts and ideas.

I’d be more than happy to sit down over a beverage of your choice to listen to any ideas you may have for improving our community.

How would you address controversial business proposals that come before the council like the gun range proposed by a former council member?

When it comes to expanding the business base and by extension the tax base of Red Wing, our attitude should be one of “How can we make this happen?” The challenges faced by our community are many and sometimes difficult to navigate.

I look forward to facing these challenges and working with the business community to find solutions. I will work to make Red Wing a place that draws in businesses creating jobs for our citizens. I will seek to remove the barriers to starting or relocating businesses in Red Wing.

GettingsGettings: Foster entrepreneurs

What are the primary issues you hope to address on City Council and how will you respond to them?

My main focus is economic development. I want Red Wing to build on its history of innovation and become a focal point for more businesses that produce exports — meaning, that they bring money into our community by employing our highly skilled workforce to its full potential. We need to work together to bring companies to town that are looking to expand operations, as well as foster and grow new entrepreneurs.

Our unique location between Rochester and the Twin Cities, our skilled workforce, and our strong community all position us well to succeed at this. We’re a city of makers and doers. Let’s show the world what we’re capable of.

How would you apply your experience, community involvement and qualifications to your duties on the council?

I started working on our family farm when I was 8 years old. I’ve spent the last 12 years building technology businesses from the ground up and helping others do the same. I’m well versed in financial matters as well as what it takes to run an operation. This is the first public office that I’ve ever run for, so I honestly lack that experience. However, I can bring an outside perspective to running a city and bring my enthusiasm and “can-do” attitude to problem solving.

What opportunities will you provide Red Wing residents to reach out to you and voice their input?

I’m available anytime via phone, text or email. But I think the best way to engage with someone is in person. I’ll make myself available as much as possible to meet with Red Wing’s residents and take their input and feedback.

How would you address controversial business proposals that come before the council like the gun range proposed by a former council member?

It’s important to focus on our goals and take input from our residents. We want to work with entrepreneurs and established businesses to bring quality job opportunities to our city. If a proposal doesn’t meet that bar, then it shouldn’t be considered. If it does meet that bar, then it should be considered if and only if the community wants it.

It’s also the responsibility of the community to speak up and voice opinions to council members. We’re all in this together and we need to hear each other out. If we don’t communicate openly and directly about these matters, then we’re all going to be frustrated and we aren’t going to move forward.

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