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Candidate Q&A: Richard Colsen, Ward 3 Cloquet City Council

Why are you running for office?

For a few different reasons. First, several neighbors had approached me and asked me to do it. I had talked to my wife over years about wanting to be more involved in watching the city grow and helping to guide and direct it.

I think we have a lot to offer -- I think can do some things differently. There are some things we’re not doing that we could do. I think our community has a lot of opinions and voices about where we can do. I hope to be a voice for Ward 3.

I have a lot of experience with capital projects, grant writing, grant management. I am spending a lot of time working with state, federal and tribal policies and helping guide and direct those in my current employment position for the past 11 years.

What do you think are the two biggest issues facing the city of Cloquet? If elected, how would you work to resolve those?

The housing issue is huge. In my job, it can take me 6-9 months to find someone housing. That’s one of the things we really try to focus on in helping an individual’s recovery. To have housing, to make sure someone’s basic needs are met. It’s been that long (of a wait) for the last 11 years. I think we need to add housing, but we need to spread that housing out, not just put it all in one ward. I think there are options, and grants available. I think city has picked up some expenses it doesn’t have to in the current financial workings of the world.

Second issue:

I think we’ve got to look at how spending and do it in a smart way. I’m very pleased with revitalization efforts I’m seeing downtown and in parks, but I think there are other things the city can work on like roads, etc. We should try to make sure we are spending in a way to not increase taxes when we can. I’ve watched my property taxes increases year after year, but recently seeing some payback on that. Revitalizations efforts, I know a lot from half cent sales tax.

Interestly enough my father-in-law’s house is worth more than double mine, but I pay only $15 less a year. He lives in Staples, Minn.

What’s the best thing the city has done over the past four years?

The revitalization. I hope the rebranding of the city as a waterfront town pays off. We need to broaden our business park. We need to bring in new businesses, and diversify what we have. We have unique things here: hunting, fishing and outdoor opportunities right outside your door, bringing in tourists.

Name three character traits of yours that you think will make you a good public official.

Detail oriented: I think you need to be detailed, research thoroughly and you need to have options. I’m very detail oriented individual. I have a number of contracts to come in and audit places to make sure they are financially or policy compliant.

I’m focused: I get on task, stay on task, I like to follow through on things.

Honest. I like to be very upfront, open, transparent about things doing or that I’m involved in.

I also like to involve people around me. I don’t believe I have all the answers; I look for others to contribute to solving problems.

Do you think the city council acted appropriately when it hired a new police chief without following the city’s usual hiring process for department heads? Why or why not?

I like the use of the words “usual hiring process” because usual hiring process doesn’t mean it’s defined in policy. I would want to see the policy. Did they violate the hiring practices in policy, that’s a more important question. We can do things the usual way, it doesn’t mean it’s the approved way. We see a lot of that today.

Did I think it was done appropriately? I think that it definitely could have been done differently.

I also think it was done in one of the most transparent ways, in a city hall room full of people. There was no back-door business going on.

I think we should have gone through candidates and reviewed them and our current chief could have risen to the top and probably would have.

What do you see as the role of the city council?

I think my role as a city council member is to represent the people of my ward. To make sure their needs are being met as well as the needs of the city.