2008 Mayoral Race: What are the Issues?

It’s official: A SEVEN-RING CIRCUS.

After yesterday’s filing deadline, we now have seven candidates for the Mayor of Northfield, listed here in alphabetical order:

Jon Denison
Paul Hager
David Hvistendahl
Lee Lansing
Mary Rossing
James Schlichting
Eduardo Wolle

(We’ll eventually link to any candidate blogs or websites, but for now, all I know about is Jim Schlicting’s. Contact us if you know of others.)

Northfield citizens, arise! What are the issues that you expect our mayor to address?

Update 11:25a:
I’m adding additional website/blog links as I receive them. I have Dave Hvistendahl’s and Mary Rossing’s now and will add any others I can verify.


  1. Anne Bretts said:

    We know a lot of the issues, from the liquor store to the library to the process for appointing people to boards and commissions. And it’s important that candidates be specific about their preferences or lack of them on each issue and how they will cope if outvoted.
    I think the important thing for me is to see the candidates give concrete examples of instances where they have brought people together to solve a problem, where they have shown leadership, where they have healed a difficult situation. If they were on the council before, can they give specifics on what they accomplished? Are there feuds between any mayoral candidates and any councilor candidates that could be an obstacle to them working together?
    Promises and good intentions are fine, but right now we need results.

    July 16, 2008
  2. Machelle Kendrick said:

    We need to honor the seven men and women who were willing to put themselves out there for the City of Northfield–who are engaging in the process, and committing to serve the community. We should be be stand-up-American-proud to have an exciting mayoral race in progress that offers constituents a choice.

    This is not a seven-ring circus. This is the political process that helps Northfield elect the very best person for the job. It’s a job most of us would never consider– and we have seven (seven!!) who are willing to do the work to campaign for this important position.

    Thank you James, Mary, Paul, David, Eduardo, Jon, an Lee for giving the citizens of Northfield an exciting and memorable Mayoral race.

    July 16, 2008
  3. David Koenig said:

    Tracy, “issues of the day” come and go. The folks running for office will most likely be members of the Council for four or more years. What I am looking for is integrity, honesty, intelligence, openness, the ability to compromise and the ability to envision and achieve objectives that advance our community.

    Those may all sound like platitudes, but, we can at least measure some of the candidates based on their public records and their consistency, or lack thereof, in demonstrating such behaviors. As for those with no record of public service, let us ask them for examples of their community service that demonstrates these ideals.

    July 16, 2008
  4. Eduardo Wolle said:

    Anne: Thanks for your thoughts on the issues. Your first question about coping with being outvoted is not that difficult. If you look at the school board minutes I sometimes voted in the minority, that being just me. I would pick up and move on to the next issue. If one dwells too much on the loss one becomes bitter and won’t function well with the other members of the deliberative body. I respected the others on the other side of the issue for their opinions.

    Your second question about bringing people together to resolve a problem, I can give you many examples because that’s my job as a mediator. I started the Rice County Dispute Resolution Program back in 2001 precisely because of the Target issue (building the Target store and expanding highway 3) and how the community didn’t have a way to discuss and come to grips with that issue. I run a volunteer based program that deals with conflicts in the community and in court. I do many of those mediations as well (they number in the hundreds). On the school board I contributed to working through an agreement with the teachers when they were on the verge of a strike. It wasn’t just me, because the school board worked together as a unit to work with the other side to come to an agreement. However, I believe my background in conflict resolution helped set some of the tone.

    On leadership, as the Chair of the Minnesota State Supreme Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Ethics Board I work with a diverse group of people including Judges, attorneys and staff. The group thought enough of me to make me Chair 5 years ago and keep me on as Chair. I am the only non-attorney or Judge on the group. I have helped guide discussions through changes in the Supreme Court Rules regarding ADR (some of them controvertial changes), I have brought together opposing parties with the Board afterwards to discuss how to resolve those issues in dispute on the Rules and punctually finished all meeting on time ( from 3:00 until 5:00).

    Your last question, no, I am not in conflict with any of the other candidates. I think the City has an excellent choice presented to its voters for mayoral candidates (and City Council as well).

    Well, that enough for me. I hope this helps and is not too long winded. I will be happy to answer other questions you may have.

    July 16, 2008
  5. Tracy Davis said:

    Eduardo, welcome, and thank you for your comment. It wasn’t long-winded at all, it was just the thing to give people who don’t know you a glimpse of who you are and what you’re about.

    July 16, 2008
  6. Anne Bretts said:

    Eduardo, thanks so much. Those were great answers.
    I think process and attitude will be the underlying factors in everything facing the city right now, so your experience should be really helpful.
    I think the other question I have is how you (other candidates feel free to chime in, too) would help the council and staff maintain public input without allowing a single councilor, the mayor, or individual citizens to overwhelm meetings and the staff with demands and complaints.

    July 17, 2008
  7. Eduardo Wolle said:

    Anne: I think someone mentioned the answer to your question in another thread under Who should run for Mayor? Part of the answer is Robert’s Rules of Order and an equal application of those Rules by the chair of the meeting (the Mayor). Council members (and the Mayor) should receive training in Roberts Rules in order to facilitate debate and discussion.

    Robert’s Rules does not have to be overly complex in small groups. There is a section which deals with small group use of Robert’s. The other part to this is limiting presentations during open mike to 3 – 4 minutes. Otherwise, the Council will not be able to do its work and will remain in a locked debate with an individual presenter for a long time (hence, long meetings). This is not unique to a deliberative body in that discussion from the audience is time limited. The School Board implemented such a policy a number of years ago with success. I was the Board’s Parliamentarian.

    If a citizen would like to follow up with staff, the Mayor or a Councilmember they can certainly meet with them after the meeting regarding the issue they raised. There are other avenues that can be explored on issues to give citizens full ability to discuss a particular issue through a facilitated discussion outside of the Council meeting (with Council and Mayor present). Again, the School Board has used this method to get public comments from citizens regarding building new schools and other issues. In the end, the Council needs to make the final decision.

    July 17, 2008
  8. Larry DeBoer said:

    One mayoral candidate value that is missing in all these threads is the need for a fiscally conservative manager who can lead Northfield through the next four years of troubling economic times.

    July 17, 2008
  9. Eduardo Wolle said:

    Larry: I would say more fiscally aware than just fiscally conservative. The Mayor has to balance the needs of the City and its population with the ability to pay to meet those needs. The Mayor also has to work with the Council to evaluate and determine if the funding is there without having to constantly go back to the voters for more funds (taxes). These are going to be difficult economic times as you stated. Government and the the citizens need to work together to develop priorities for funding projects. Part of that is answering the questions: what are the needs and can we afford it?

    Since people on this thread have asked for more specifics regarding experience and less wind, they should be aware of my background in executive management as Executive Director of several organizations in the past and present, including serving as a board member of several non-profit organizations as well as 10 years on the School Board. This experience has given me quite a lot of knowlege in working with budgets and competing needs.

    For example, the School District’s budget is much larger than the City’s budget. As a board we needed to work through priorities, needs and budget. There were years when we faced financial difficulties and had to make difficult decisions. That was tempered with the needs of the students and the taxpayers. We weren’t always loved for our decisions but we made them, that’s why we were elected. As a manager of a non-profit (RCDRP) and a for-profit (Gilbert Mediation Center) I am working in two different worlds; one bringing in money through grants and government funds the other, bringing in money through marketing, outreach and client satisfaction. Both groups operate in the black.

    I have many more examples of my experience with budgeting and finance. If you want to talk, let me know.

    July 18, 2008
  10. Ray Cox said:

    Larry makes a good point on the need for sound fiscal policies, and Eduardo gave a fine reply.
    I wish to second the need for an awareness of fiscal issues…and a willingness to truly examine all aspects of city government. Are we doing well the things a city government is expected to do? Are we doing things that the city should not be doing? Just because a program or person was part of city government 4-5 years ago and is no longer here does not necessarily mean we are deficient in that area. It may simply mean the program or person is no longer needed. We have to take a hard, long look at everything the city is doing and see if our residents want to pay for all those things.
    Many in Northfield are experiencing very tough economic times. We cannot overburden residents with ‘fluff’ at all. Fiscal responsibility has to be the #1 issue for our Mayor.

    July 18, 2008
  11. Peter Waskiw said:

    Let’s get practical. I would like to see a Mayor and his/her staff demonstrate the need to prioritize City spending and projects. The important CIP tool is currently being used to just list projects that people like or think are a good idea, and to create future wish lists.

    The whole point of connecting the City budget with priority spending becomes a farce under the current process. Why is the City talking about new facilities when local streets are not even paved or maintained? For example, 9th Street from Division Street to the War Memorial needs new pavement, curb and gutter, not to mention what needs to happened to other infrastructure under the road. 9th Street connects residents from the east side of Division to the War Memorial and to the walking/cycling path that connects to Downtown and Highway 3 South.

    This is just simple example to demonstrate that not more than 2 blocks from Downtown, an important residential street falls by the wayside, while there is talk about multi-million dollar civic projects. Where are the priorities? There needs to be real prioritization of City infrastructure projects and the financial decisions that go along with them.

    July 18, 2008
  12. […] Tracy recently wrote a post asking about the important issues in the upcoming campaign. Although the liquor store, street projects, rental ordinance, missing millions, new business park, and capital investment priorities, are all topics of significance, for me, the most important thing to find in a candidate is whether they will listen to, and acknowledge having heard, citizen concerns. […]

    August 16, 2008
  13. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    EDA public meeting w/Dunbar Consulting and city staff on plans for the 530-acre business park is tomorrow night, Aug. 21, 7 pm at Viking Theater in Buntrock at St. Olaf. Anne Bretts says the website shows their experience to be mostly residential with very little industrial. Hmm.

    Hope mayor candidates will turn up with questions.

    August 20, 2008
  14. Anne Bretts said:

    Stephanie, please be careful what you repeat without context. I simply asked a question, which Rick Estenson answered in the original thread. You insinuation that something is amiss is quite unfair and disturbing.
    By all means, come to the meeting, but keep an open mind.

    August 21, 2008
  15. Patrick Enders said:

    There was an excellent candidates’ forum at City Hall last night. There are many good candidates for mayor; I’m looking for a consensus-building candidate with good leadership skills who can first and foremost bring stability and civility to city hall. I was particularly impressed by much of what I heard from Paul Weller and Mary Rossing, but I want to go back and give another listen to the proceedings.

    Does anyone know when this will be broadcast on NTV? More importantly, does anyone know how we could watch this recording, given that we do not have cable at our house?

    Thanks to anyone who might help.

    August 29, 2008
  16. Jerold Friedman said:

    From Suzanne Rook at the Northfield News:

    “I’ve e-mailed Paul Hager, who runs NTV, about the schedule. Also, as soon as we get the DVD, hopefully today, we’ll post it to our site.”

    August 29, 2008
  17. Patrick Enders said:

    Thanks Jerold,
    I spotted you at the forum last night (thanks for the ‘Gravitar’) – and would’ve introduced myself if I wasn’t in a hurry to get home and watch Mr. Obama. Some other time, I guess.

    Also, I arrived a bit late so I missed the rules, but I was surprised that you and Betsey Buckheit didn’t get a chance to speak. I guess that’s because you weren’t going to be in a runoff?

    August 29, 2008
  18. Jerold Friedman said:

    The League of Women Voters will have another candidates’ forum in late October for candidates who survive the primary. Since there are two candidates for Ward 2, therefore no primary, we were not invited to last night’s forum.

    I was happy to see all the candidates there, except Alan Lindberg who didn’t show up. That’s terrific turnout and speaks to the enthusiasm this election is bringing.

    I look forward to an introduction some time soon. I will be at most or all of the “Politics and a Pint”. I enjoy community governance and I especially enjoy hearing what’s on the minds of Northfielders.

    August 29, 2008
  19. Patrick Enders said:

    Oops! Paul Hager, not Paul Weller (re: my post #16).

    Incidentally, you know you’re living in a small town when a mayoral candidate is also the TV executive (very colloquially speaking) responsible for broadcasting the mayoral candidates’ forum.

    August 29, 2008
  20. Patrick Enders said:

    Good catch. I did actually have both Paul Weller of The Jam, as well as Peter Weller (of ‘Robocop’ and, strangely, ‘Engineering an Empire’) on my brain yesterday, so maybe that’s where the slip came from.

    August 29, 2008
  21. Jerry Bilek said:

    Robocop or Buckaroo Banzai(Peter Weller) would both be good mayoral candidates. Buckaroo defeated the martians from Planet 10 and Robocop did that great no smoking in theaters skit years ago.

    Sorry Brendon, I may have to write in one of the Wellers.

    August 29, 2008
  22. David Koenig said:

    Jerry, it was Lectroids from Planet 10 who were led by the evil Lord John Worphin, who possessed the body of Prof. Emilio Lizardo when the good professor prematurely attempted to cross into the 8th dimension. He and his henchmen, among which were the infamous John Big Booty (boo-tay), John Smallberries and John YaYa.

    Buckaroo was indeed able to save the world from imminent destruction by the Rastafarians who now ruled Planet 10 and swore not to allow Worphin to escape our planet. Buckaroo was able to save while at the same time being an active neurosurgeon and member of the hard rockin’ Hong Kong Cavaliers.

    He also spoke 10 languages and could write songs in each one. I believe that he also set a land speed record and eventually was successful at crossing into the 8th dimension.

    Give him 10 minutes and he’d fix our problems!

    August 29, 2008
  23. David Koenig said:


    A good laugh indeed…just what we need now!

    I neglected to mention the important role played by Penny Pretty, held prisoner at the innocuous sounding, but stealthily dangerous Yoyodyne Jet Propulsion Labs! Business park developers beware!

    I’ve got the VHS…maybe we should invite the Mayoral candidates and Council to all get together for a screening. If nothing else, they’ll walk away scratching their heads wondering what was so funny. Anyone who does that will immediately be eliminated from consideration for election. 🙂

    August 29, 2008
  24. Jerold Friedman said:

    The mayoral candidate forum schedule, according to Paul Hager, will be Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 9 p.m. The three sections will rotate, with a different grouping going first each night. The same rotations will run the following mornings (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) at 8 a.m. Other times are available at NTV.org

    August 29, 2008
  25. David Koenig said:

    “Home, home is a where you wear your hat”
    “Home, I feel so break-up, I want to go home”
    “Lithium is no longer available on credit”
    “Jesu Christo, make-a the ganglia twitch”
    “Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy!”

    August 29, 2008

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