Candidate Profiles: Scanlon city councilScanlon city council (2 seats) James Pratt • Scott Boedigheimer • Mathew Falk • Marshall Johnson
Question 1: How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve on the Cloquet City Council?
Question 2: What are the top three issues facing the city right now and how should they be addressed?
Question 3: Other than finding greater efficiencies, what areas would you look to trim first if there are unexpected budget deficits (for example, should the state choose to further cut Local Government Aid)?
I served and retired with 20 years on the Scanlon fire department. In that time I was asst. chief and ran the relief association retirement fund for our members.
I have 34 years in the retail business working with people every day. Of those 34 years I have run my own businesses for 22 years. The knowledge and experience I have gained through the years will benefit our city in the day to day running of a city. To make sure our limited budget is spent well, I will look at expenses like I do my own company and plan long term decisions for our community in the same manner.
Our budget is probably the most gruesome task anyone has to try and balance. Because of little funding from the state, we have to prioritize where to spend what little money we have.
Our infrastructure is another challenge with our budget – how do we keep water flowing and roads drivable. We have to have this working to live in our community. It is the backbone of any city.
We need to make it easier for our citizens to get their properties maintained so that people will want to come and live here. Any business that wants to make improvements to their properties shouldn’t have to struggle to get it done. Making it easier to do these small tasks will help improve the image and lifestyles of any community.
Because of short fall in state funding, we as city councilors have to step up to the plate and make tough decisions as to what projects are most important to our community so we can still run our city and keep infrastructure working.
I currently own a small business in Scanlon. I also have a BA in Business management, and serve on the Cloquet Area Fire District as a Firefighter/EMR. I have worked for a period with the US Census Bureau managing over 300 individuals throughout MN. I was involved directly with many local, county and state government entities to create awareness and acceptance of the 2010 Census.
1) Infrastructure: We have an aging sewer/water system that needs to be updated. This can be accomplished by not losing sight of the end goal, and being proactive in the future rather than reactive. 2) Funding: As with anything in this economy prices are skyrocketing and funding has been cut from every direction, we need to remain diligent in watching costs, as well as remembering that any added tax burden to the citizens could be overwhelming. 3) Community Involvement: I have noticed less and less community involvement and participation in the last five years. I would like to implement more community sponsored events and groups to create a stronger community bond. Scanlon neighbors all know each other and should continue to take a stake and interest in their city.
City spending in general. To begin budgets are cut tight, I believe city spending should be done with more diligence and more oversight.
My past experience of being on the council for the City of Scanlon has been to help bring business (Blaine Brothers and Suncrest) to the city. We also worked to develop streets such as Doddridge and Fairview Avenues to bring in new housing to go on the tax rolls.
Top issues facing the city are street improvement, and bringing the flow of water being discharged to WLSSD under control. Our monthly sewer bills are going to increase dramatically in 2013 because of the high flow sent to WLSSD. Correcting this problem requires all residents to have sump pumps and our sewer lines repaired.
To help find greater efficiencies we should consider merging with the City of Cloquet. This would save over $60,000 in expenses. We would also see our water/sewer bills reduced because we would no longer be buying water from Cloquet. These are things that have to be talked with Cloquet before this happens (maintenance of streets, etc.). There are some that don’t want this but with the bad economy it may be necessary.
To be quite honest I expressed interest on the city council when a position opened up. I feel that one should be pro-active with problems in their community. What better way than to become part of the solution. I have currently been on the city council for a year and a half now. I work for MNDOT and feel that I would be most useful with our street department. Everyone knows streets are a problem everywhere you turn, however underlying issues regarding water lines and sewer also fall into the same
Three of the top issues in the community in my opinion would be streets, very dated infrastructure, and ever-increasing water/sewer fees. We are always looking into grants to help remove the burden from taxpayers. We have helped citizens with pathways for individual grants to become compliant with ever growing regulations.
If funding was limited tomorrow we would have to begin limiting spending from within. However, seeing that we no longer have a school, police or fire department, and we have to buy our water, we could possibly start thinking about sitting down with Cloquet city officials and discuss the possibilities of a merge.