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Candidate Q&A: Dave Hallback, Mayor

Why are you running for office?

I’m looking for my second term. I’ve enjoyed my first term. I think we’ve done some good things in the city — myself and the council. My passion for Cloquet still runs pretty deep, pretty hard. I don’t do it for the money; I like seeing where Cloquet is and having a voice.

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

Hard to pick 2.

First and foremost I still think there is a major drug problem in this area, not just in our town. I support the police and fire, helping curb that problem. The fire department is just as busy responding to the overdoses, the problems that drugs bring to this area.

Second, I’d say economic development. We’re in direct competition with Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor, Esko. We’ve got good people working on it -- but we haven’t been able to sustain something. we’ve lost some businesses, Jardin’s/Diamond Brands, Avenue C. We’ve had smaller businesses close. We want to see them thrive.

I think we’ve bit into the housing need with the 14th Street project and now the new middle school, which should make Cloquet more attractive to a business looking here. Right now there’s no place for them to come.

I’d continue to work with city staff; they’re really good at what they do and work really hard. It’s just really tough right now.

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

I like what we’re doing with the parks. I’m not taking credit for the sales tax, that was before my time. But with the money being spent, we are making Cloquet a destination. It’s really spruced up Cloquet, makes Cloquet really pretty. If you go by Voyageurs there are people there all the time, and it’s not even complete yet.

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

Im honest, hardworking and genuine.

We’ve had some really tough issues come up since I’ve been mayor. I supported the middle school, had the SKB (landfill), the Scanlon merger … there have been a lot of issues where I think I’ve worked really hard and my traits have come to the forefront.

I haven’t taken the easy way out on any issue, just because I can. I want to do the best I can for Cloquet.

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 do. I supported it. I was one that recommended it. It wasn’t outside usual protocol. Wade Lamirande was also appointed to police chief. The reason I supported doing it that way was I saw in Jeff Palmer maybe what others didn’t see or were aware of and how things had turned around during the time he was (interim chief). Morale was way up, sick leave was low. Jeff was asked to do it, he stepped up to the plate and did it and he deserved a chance.

The way I looked at it was I saved the city some money (by not doing a search) and it was Jeff’s to lose. Looking back a year later though, I’m glad I did it. I didn’t take the easy way out and the results speak for themselves.

He’s got that department running smoother than when I was there.

What do you see as the role of the mayor?

A mayor should build good working relationships with community representatives, school board members, etc. You are the voice of Cloquet. I’ve built good relationships with school board, teachers, students … I have good rapport with Scanlon, the Fond du Lac RBC -- that’s huge -- we never had a relationship before 2 years ago.

I lean on people for advice, Commissioners Proulx and Brenner. I had a good relationship with (former Duluth mayor) Donny Ness, working on that with (current Duluth Mayor) Emily Larson.

It’s important to have good relationships with the attorneys in town … State Rep Mike Sundin, Senator Tony Lourey. Having those relationships in place helps Cloquet and the mayor. Without those relationships you’ll be taking steps backwards.