As north-metro primary elections approach, races are shaping up that could change the makeup of city government in Coon Rapids, Ramsey, Brooklyn Park and Columbia Heights. In each case, several candidates have filed to participate in the Aug. 14 primary, to determine who will compete in the Nov. 6 general election.
Today, the Star Tribune is publishing answers to questions posed to candidates vying for council seats in Coon Rapids and Ramsey. Next week, look for information from Brooklyn Park and Columbia Heights.
In Coon Rapids, Ward 1 incumbent Denise Klint faces two challengers, including a frequent critic of city projects. In Ward 2, four candidates are vying for the seat vacated by outgoing councilwoman Melissa Johnson. The At-Large seat -- currently held by Scott Schulte, who is running for the Anoka County Commission -- has four candidates, including a former police chief.
Denise Klint (incumbent)
Top issue: Spending. As a current council member, we do everything in our power to limit spending while maintaining the services people want and building a future for the city.
Key experience: 14 years on the city council. This experience puts me in a better position to represent our citizens. Living in this city most of my life gives me experiences other candidates don't have.
Top issue: City investment. True economic growth can only be spurred by allowing our residents and businesses to spend more of their own money through lowering property taxes and costly regulation levels.
Key experience: Running the downtown market for Enterprise Rent-A-Car has given me experience in leadership, cost control, capital planning, cash flow management, long term strategy, negotiating, and being a part of giving back to the community that gave me so much.
Top issue: City spending and construction projects. The solution is letting construction people of Coon Rapids give them advice on what to build and how to build.
Key experience: 46 years as a bricklayer
Top issue: Maintain essential services, parks, trails, roads and public safety to citizens' expectations, while carefully guiding the redevelopment of Coon Rapids Boulevard.
Key experience: After a career as a firefighter and as a Captain for the City of Coon Rapids, I understand how budgets affect essential services. I have witnessed the painful decisions department heads have had to make, at times having to make cuts, not because of a lack of funds, but because of directives to find money for unfunded projects.
Top issue: We need to find a balance between spending and revitalizing our city. By looking for alternatives we can reduce spending, resulting in lower taxes, which in turn would make our city more inviting to business owners.
Key experience: As a business executive, I am required to find ways to reduce spending while completing the job effectively.
Top issue: Transportation. I'd work with the planning commission and the Anoka County Commission to increase bus lines and routes in the Coon Rapids Area.
Key experience: The Citizen's Academy, an eight-week course offered by the Coon Rapids City Council, explaining how the council and the city work.
Top issue: Better government can welcome new businesses holding high-tech/high-wage jobs to attract young families for our older housing stock. The council should advance active citizen involvement on city commissions and task forces that are seriously engaged in planning for such development. Regulations should lead to long-term business sustainability.
Key experience: The combination of my full career teaching college technical courses, business and licensure seminars has given me understanding of complex technical issues and their financial underpinnings.
Top issue: Restoring fiscal responsibility. Trimming unneeded expenses, lowering taxes, and eliminating unneeded regulation that stifles business and restricts redevelopment of vacant property to attract jobs.
Key experience: Licensed Financial Advisor with a BS in Business Management and an MBA in Economics
Top issue: The redevelopment of Coon Rapids Boulevard, which has to be accomplished by working in conjunction with other government entities, as well as the private sector. It also must be done without draining resources used to deliver quality city services.
Key experience: Coon Rapids police officer for 32 years, the last 11 as Police Chief.
Top issue: Fiscal Responsibility, I plan to pick up where the previous councilman leaves off with honesty, integrity and common sense. Public Safety is also a big priority, we need to stop our parks from being a haven for criminal activity.
Key experience: I was part of the employee engagement senate at my previous employer. During this time we would work on projects to promote employee engagement and process-improvement projects. My personal experiences at the capital have taught me a lot about local government.
No response: Ron Manning (Ward 2). Withdrew: Tracy N. Trull (Ward 2).
Three City Council seats are up for grabs in Ramsey, in addition to the mayor's position. Mayor Bob Ramsey is being challenged by Sarah Strommen, a current city council member. In addition, five candidates are competing for the At-Large seat currently held by incumbent Jeff Wise, whose most recent term has been marked by legal problems, including a 2011 assault conviction. Ward 2 member Colin McGlone has two competitors. The Ward 4 seat being vacated by mayoral candidate Strommen has four candidates.
Top issue: The current administration prides itself on keeping taxes low, but this does not mean money is not being spent. If we continue down this path, we will see our city taxes rise and be unprepared for snow removal or other emergencies. We need to scrutinize and review city expenditures, and develop a plan to replenish our reserves.
Key experience: President of Flaire Print Communications Inc. for 34 years.
Colin McGlone (incumbent)
Top issue: Planning and funding for up to $90 million of road reconstruction, scheduled to begin in 2014. I have made this issue a top priority by budgeting $1 million in the 2013 budget to begin the process of funding Ramsey's roads.
Key experience: I have been a business owner most of my adult life and have served on the City Council since 2009.
Top issue: No city council in the history of Ramsey has addressed our aging roads except the present council. They just started a budget, but it's not enough, so we must continue to make this a priority and then set up a grid system to start replacing them.
Key experience: I was in management for 30-plus years in the trucking industry.
Top issue: Unnecessary city spending that could potentially raise taxes for the residents of Ramsey. The best way to solve this issue is to try and bring more businesses into the community to help fund some of Ramsey's large developments and projects.
Key experience: As a Realtor who deals in the foreclosure market, I understand that as foreclosures increase in Ramsey, that will limit taxes being paid, and if the city keeps up the unnecessary spending they will have no choice but to raise taxes on the homeowners who are current on their mortgages.
Top issue: The greatest concern for the City of Ramsey is the amount of resources that have been allocated to The COR. The city has all of its financial eggs in one basket. It is now time for the city to step aside and find a developer who will take over and let market forces drive the development.
Key experience: Member/chairman of the Ramsey Economic Development Authority for 13 years.
17-year Ramsey resident
Top Issue: Reconstruction of Ramsey's 30-year-old roads, which will cost $3 million a year for several decades. The city should trim government expenditures by emphasizing efficiencies and consolidation of services, and entice business development to further lessen the tax burden on residents.
Key experience: Chairman of the Ramsey Charter Commission.
Top issue: Lack of depth and experience in our City Staff, after the resignation of five key employees. The solution is to rebuild an experienced, seasoned staff, appropriately sized to meet the city's needs, while being mindful of taxpayers' pocketbooks.
Key experience: 11 years of service on the Ramsey Economic Development Authority, 20 years as a Ramsey business owner.
No response: Rick Chubb, Thomas Towberman (both At-Large); Bob Sibilski (Ward 2).
Withdrew: Rebecca Brown
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409