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Candidate Q&A: Roger Maki, Mayor

Why are you running for office?

I ran in 2010 because I had a lifelong interest in politics after studying it. After our children had grown and left the area, I had more time. I had sold my business, still working but I had the time and the interest to do it.

Now we need to restore the trust that has been lost. So many people have thanked me for running, said we need change, it’s very encouraging. Most of the time it’s just people coming up to me, not solicited.

Having been an owner and a business manager and everything that goes along with that, I have a lot of experience with conflict resolution. I will work to be more of a mediator than a confrontational leader, allowing input from all sides.

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

Job 1 is to restore trust in city government that’s been lost, especially in the last year and a half. We need a fresh start. I’m hoping the election results will go a long way toward resolving some of the conflict we see on the council. I don’t get upset about different ideas people have — you want that.”

Otherwise, we obviously have things we need to work on that are important. Figuring out a way to work with Friends of Animals is important. It’s not acceptable to me to do as the city administrator recommended and rescind the ordinance and just let the dogs run. I will work with FOA. Ideally it will be a county wide solution. It would be great if county takes over and everyone just pays the county.

Retention and recruitment of businesses is another big issue.

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

I would say all the work on parks that has taken place has been impressive, but it’s the sales tax money that we’re using. Been spending last 4 years, but wouldn’t have had that money except for hard work of (previous longtime City Administrator) Brian Fritsinger and (previous longtime Mayor) Bruce Ahlgren working for years with the legislature to give us the ability to get that passed. So I don’t take credit for what’s been done. We figured out where to spend it, yes, but it would be disingenuous to take credit for it. I’ve been there eight years, so I saw it all: the groundwork and the execution. And there’s been some beautiful work. Vets is an amazing park.

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

Honesty, integrity and willingness to listen

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?

We did not act appropriately. I was the first one to speak at the work session saying we should have a posting in-house in the department and also look outside to advertise the position because we have a city administrator and HR person — they could have handled a search without us hiring a consultant to do it. It was wrong to appoint someone who had not had any competition at all, or vetting.

What do you see as the role of the mayor?

I believe the mayor needs to show leadership, work very closely with the council to do whatever we can that’s in the best interest of our citizens. The mayor should not be micromanaging the city. We have department heads as well as a city administrator. The mayor needs to know what’s going on in overall sense but not get down in the weeds with every department or favor one department over another.