’s Election Forum: submit your questions by Friday, Oct. 10 is hosting an election forum for Northfield, both city council and school board races.

It’s not really a forum in the traditional online sense, eg, message board, email discussion list, real-time chat, etc. Rather, it’s an asynchronous Q&A — questions submitted via email by Oct. 10 will be forwarded to candidates and responses will be posted to their web site by Oct. 20.


  1. Felicity Enders said:

    Two comments:

    1. I hadn’t realized that there isn’t a primary election for Noah Cashman’s seat. The four individuals running for that spot will be on our Nov 4 ballot. I hope to see some discussion about differences between them here on LGN.

    2. Turnout at tonight’s mayoral debate was pretty low. The good news is there also wasn’t much distinction between the two candidates based on tonight’s debate, but I thought there were some pretty important differences at earlier discussions. Where was everyone?

    October 7, 2008
  2. Patrick Enders said:

    Planning Commission, I think. Or settling in for that other debate tonight.

    October 7, 2008
  3. Tracy Davis said:

    I don’t want to blow anyone’s cover, Patrick, but the only people who came to the Planning Commission meeting were City Administrator Joel Walinkski and Councillor Dixon Bond.

    October 8, 2008
  4. Ross Currier said:

    Felicity –

    What were the important differences that you perceived in earlier discussions? In particular, on what topics did you sense the greatest differences?

    Furthermore, in your opinion, have the candidates changed their views or become less candid?

    Thanks much,


    October 8, 2008
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Felicity wrote:

    I hope to see some discussion about differences between them here on LGN.

    Felicity, I do plan to launch separate blog posts for all the various Council races… real soon now!

    October 8, 2008
  6. Felicity Enders said:

    Well, first let me state that I do think both these candidates would be a change for the better. At the LWV forum, however, there were two questions for which I noted distinct differences. Their video is at

    1. “How would you rank the order of capital improvement projects, and why?”. To my mind this was a critical question since not everything on the capital improvements list may be feasible in this economic environment.

    Mr. Hager (57:15) prioritized the library as the number one project. He also indicated interest in combining the safety center with city hall. He justified this with a long-term view about the number of roofs the city has to maintain. He also likes the idea of “building the liquor store fairly soon, because the liquor store generates positive cash flow back to the city” and would do even better in a larger space. He wants to use money generated by the liquor store to help pay for some of the other project.

    Ms. Rossing (58:29) didn’t describe her priorities, but instead wanted to find ways for ordinary citizens to add MORE items to the CIP list. She recognized that more projects require a greater tax burden; she proposed having citizens vote on which projects should move forward. She also questioned whether the library needs to expand as much as the consultants say.

    2. “What should the city do that it’s not already doing to address the drug problem?”

    Mr. Hager (64:22) thought the city should provide funding for non-governmental organizations (presumably such as the Mayor’s Youth Task Force) to help fight Northfield’s drug problem.

    Ms. Rossing (65:05) was not convinced there was a role for government in this problem. She felt it was definitely a problem, but one to be dealt with at the individual/family level.

    At last night’s forum:

    #1 did not come up in quite the same way. However, Ms. Rossing did find a moment to clarify that she is in favor of the library expansion; she said she didn’t understand how the idea that she didn’t support the library had arisen.

    #2 came up last night more specifically; Ms. Rossing significantly refined her previous position, bringing it closer in line with Mr. Hager’s – emphasizing the need for broad community efforts, including an active governmental role. She also talked about the need to develop opportunities for positive youth engagement in Northfield as a way to prevent drug abuse.

    October 8, 2008
  7. Patrick Enders said:

    Felicity, thanks for doing the leg work on that post.

    Back at the Aug. 28 candidate forum, I went in never having met (or, as far as I knew, seen) any of the candidates except Mr. Lansing and Mr. Denison. Not being sure what the Mayor’s level of support was at that time, my main priority at that forum was identifying the best candidate to replace/defeat Mr. Lansing. Given word-of-mouth/reputation, I was penciling in Mary Rossing as the candidate to support. Instead, I walked out of that forum very impressed by Paul Hager.

    For the reasons Felicity has cited above, as well as his generally straightforward and knowledgeable answers on all of the topics that have come up at these forums – including how to build/work through consensus – I believe that Paul Hager represents our best choice for Mayor of Northfield.* We have a mess in city government right now, and what I think what we really need is a Mayor who can provide leadership and clarity on basic nuts-and-bolts city issues from the moment they walk in the door. In this, I believe that Paul Hager’s previous experience as Mayor will be a tremendous asset.

    *: (That is, unless anyone provides information about Mr. Hager’s previous tenure as Mayor which would contradict the general impression he gives in these forums – again, we weren’t around at the time. I previously asked for more information on these boards about his previous tenure, and the few responses were fairly positive).

    October 8, 2008
  8. Peter Millin said:

    OMG Patrick we actually agree on something.

    Never haven’t met either of the candidates I was very impressed with Paul Hagers presentation on the preliminaries.

    He knows the issues and seems to have a common sense fiscal approach to the issues at hand.

    October 8, 2008
  9. Patrick Enders said:

    I think we already agreed on Mr. Hager (at least out of those remaining after the primary) a while back, on another thread.

    Local politics is, and should be, a very different beast than national politics. Although there is of course some overlap.

    October 8, 2008
  10. Barry Cipra said:

    I wonder if we could get candidates for the school board to comment on a snippet (edited for brevity) of a news article I just came across online:

    Making math uncool is hurting America, report says
    Fri Oct 10, 1:14 AM ET

    Americans may like to make fun of girls who are good at math, but this attitude is robbing the country of some of its best talent, researchers reported on Friday.

    They found that while girls can be just as talented as boys at mathematics, some are driven from the field because they are teased, ostracized or simply neglected.

    “The U.S. culture that is discouraging girls is also discouraging boys,” Janet Mertz, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who led the study said in a statement.

    “The situation is becoming urgent. The data show that a majority of the top young mathematicians in this country were not born here.”

    [many paragraphs skipped here…]

    “Just as there is concern about the U.S. relying on foreign countries for our oil and manufactured goods, we should also be concerned about relying on others to fill our needs for mathematicians, engineers, and scientists,” Joseph Gallian of the University of Minnesota [Duluth] and current president of the Mathematical Association of America, said in a statement.

    October 10, 2008
  11. Rob Hardy said:

    Clearly we do need to encourage girls and boys to take math seriously and to work hard to excel at it. I do think that there is often too much emphasis on learning math with a goal of doing well on standardized tests, and not enough emphasis on really fostering an enduring interest in the subject. We need students who want to do math, not just students who can do it when forced. Perhaps, for middle school age girls, we need more role models like Danica McKellar, author of Math Doesn’t Suck.

    October 10, 2008
  12. Barry Cipra said:

    Rob, you might have added a link to McKellar’s own website,

    She apparently has a new book out, “Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss.” Adult discussants here may remember McKellar as the winsome Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years.” Any teenage boys cruising this thread may want to google “Danica McKellar” and click on “images.”

    October 10, 2008