VOTERS GUIDE: Four vie for two spots on FL council

Click here to see the rest of the 2012 Voters Guide.

Jim Dufour (I)

Dufour

I’m a tree trimmer for Asplundh full-time. I also run my own business trimming trees as well as being a trapper doing both nuisance wildlife and fur trapping. I have been on this City Council the past four years. Prior to that I spent 15 years on the board of a local union.

1.) Explain the single accomplishment you take the most pride in from your current term.

I’m very pleased with the way the downtown, Broadway, Lakeside Park, Fenway fields, the airport have been improved lately, as with many other areas, and in working with the county to improve 11th Avenue, the bridge and new pedestrian bridges. I would really like to see progress continue moving forward.

2.) An engineering report found that 46 percent of Forest Lake’s road system is in need of reconstruction. Do you support the city’s recent plan for the establishment of a franchise fee to fund road maintenance? If not, what is your vision for maintaining and improving the street system?

I am in favor of the franchise fee solely because those funds are 100 percent dedicated to streets. It cannot be used as general fund monies. This fee is still in the process of being formulated but I feel that’s the direction it must be dedicated. For far too long our streets have been neglected, not spending the proper funds to maintain them. Now we need to make up for bad decisions in the past.

3.) There has been ongoing debate about the need for new or improved city government facilities. What degree of need do you detect, and how would you like to see it be addressed?

There is a need for new facilities. Currently there is not enough space for our police, firefighters and staff in general to operate as efficiently and effectively as they can and should be able to. I strongly feel the Northland Mall site would not only fit our needs properly but would also improve that area. Open up the current city hall site to development for a more people-friendly downtown. And improve our downtown.

4.) Explain your support for two projects or policy changes; one likely requiring taxpayer money and one that likely saves taxpayer money or does not require it.

Let’s get back to the city hall thoughts. Yes, it’s not a free option. Will it not only improve our downtown as well as vastly improve the Northland Mall site and with a huge benefit to the watershed that flows into Clear Lake? The current space needs for our police, fire and staff are not adequate, not even taking into consideration future needs. Bonding rates are very favorable at this time. This will also add many jobs for the area. Get rid of the blighted mall area that is an eyesore to our great community. It’s time. Move forward.

 

Ed Eigner

Eigner

I am married, have two children, a granddaughter and a bulldog named ChumLee. Residing on Clear Lake, Forest Lake, for 15 years. Graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. I served our country in Vietnam. I am a member of the Planning Commission, the VFW, American Legion and the Clear Lake Association. Currently employed as operations manager for Culligan.

1.) Explain what specifically motivated you to run for office.

I’m running to equalize representation and bring balance to the council, which is leaning towards increased spending and fees. We’re told our financial house is in order, yet we don’t have enough money to maintain roads and infrastructure. I propose a public referendum on major expenditures, such as $22,000,000 for a new city hall.

2.) An engineering report found that 46 percent of Forest Lake’s road system is in need of reconstruction. Do you support the city’s recent plan for the establishment of a franchise fee to fund road maintenance? If not, what is your vision for maintaining and improving the street system?

What is being done with the $300,000-plus that’s been in the general budget every year? If roads are as bad as the study indicates then it’s logical to increase that portion of the budget. The truth is in order to bond for a new hall the city needs to create a new revenue stream called a franchise fee. Revenue is down due to lack of development; a new city hall will not improve our revenue or roads.

3.) There has been ongoing debate about the need for new or improved city government facilities. What degree of need do you detect, and how would you like to see it be addressed?

The debate to improve our government facilities is somewhat self-serving; the mayor and followers are pushing this issue. This all-or-nothing approach isn’t prudent during these economic times. Having toured both police and fire departments, improvement is needed, but what is wrong with remodeling?  The present fire station has enough land to expand to meet our present and future needs; if done correctly there may be room to combine the police and fire into one safety building.

4.) Explain your support for two projects or policy changes; one likely requiring taxpayer money and one that likely saves taxpayer money or does not require it.

I support the city investing funds to entice business. The commercial base needs to grow to provide revenue. We can no longer burden the residential sector with higher taxes; continued incentives, low taxes and less regulation is the formula for success.

The days of building large city complexes are ending, conducting city business via the Internet is becoming the norm. Libraries don’t generate enough revenue to maintain staffing. The Internet is replacing the need for books, look at this trend before building a new city hall. Big-box stores are scaling down in size. Why should the city be any different?

 

Jeff Klein

Klein

I live in Forest Lake along with my lovely wife, Jackie, and two adorable school-age daughters. I’m currently senior manager of operations for the Minnesota Wild/Minnesota Sports and Entertainment. I’m just a regular guy who will be an independent voice to represent all citizens on the council.

1.) Explain what specifically motivated you to run for office.

I’m running so everyone in Forest Lake will feel represented. I am not beholden to any special interest and will always vote for what is best for Forest Lake, its residents and business owners. After all, my family and I live here too!

2.) An engineering report found that 46 percent of Forest Lake’s road system is in need of reconstruction. Do you support the city’s recent plan for the establishment of a franchise fee to fund road maintenance? If not, what is your vision for maintaining and improving the street system?

Yes, but only as originally proposed. The theory behind the fee is it is a transparent tax that must be dedicated to roads as opposed to being in the general fund where future councils can move it around for other purposes. So while we may all pay a few dollars more a month, it would keep you from being assessed $20,000 when it is time for the street you live on to be reconstructed.

3.) There has been ongoing debate about the need for new or improved city government facilities. What degree of need do you detect, and how would you like to see it be addressed?

There is a need for new police and fire stations and, to a lesser degree, a new city hall. Would it be more efficient to build all three at once? I am open to all suggestions and locations. Right now it’s being portrayed as an enormous expenditure versus a zero, do-nothing approach. As with most issues, the answer lies somewhere in the middle where my independent, common-sense approach lies as well.

4.) Explain your support for two projects or policy changes; one likely requiring taxpayer money and one that likely saves taxpayer money or does not require it.

The project requiring taxpayer money would be the one mentioned in question No. 3, the franchise fee.  We all have a need for roads, we all should contribute to their upkeep. It’s a core role of community and government. As for the latter, I would support better communication from city hall. If ideas were presented in a more timely manner by those in government rather than via negative spin in misleading letters to the editor, we would be a much more friendly and efficient city. Thank you, please vote! To learn more, visit www.kleinforcouncil.webs.com.

 

Ben Winnick

Winnick

I’m a native Forest Laker. I am 47 years old, married with three children, owner of Winnick Supply in Forest Lake. This is the first time I have run for office.

1.) Explain what specifically motivated you to run for office.

The arrogance of the city in wanting to purchase Northland Mall and build a new $22 million city hall without a referendum. I also want to restore the public forum at all council meetings.

2.) An engineering report found that 46 percent of Forest Lake’s road system is in need of reconstruction. Do you support the city’s recent plan for the establishment of a franchise fee to fund road maintenance? If not, what is your vision for maintaining and improving the street system?

No. A franchise fee is just another name for a tax – in this case a tax increase. Maintaining our roads is one of the very basic services any city should be providing, and it is a shame that the city keeps reducing the amount it spends on the roads every year. I believe the council needs to analyze the budget and prioritize its spending, taking care of the necessities first.

3.) There has been ongoing debate about the need for new or improved city government facilities. What degree of need do you detect, and how would you like to see it be addressed?

As I said before I am against spending $22 million on a new facility. The current city hall could use some T.L.C., and I do believe facilities could be reconfigured to increase efficiency without incurring a lot of expense. Beyond that, we should look at a second fire station located somewhere in the old township to reduce response times to certain areas of the city.

4.) Explain your support for two projects or policy changes; one likely requiring taxpayer money and one that likely saves taxpayer money or does not require it.

The city council needs to be proactive on the budget. We need to compare our expenses to other cities around us and see where we can become more efficient. Also, I would also like to look at improved cooperation with the surrounding cities. As far as spending taxpayer money on projects, I would like to see an effort to develop a technology park to attract new businesses with high-paying jobs to help improve our tax base.

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