Election 2008 discussion: Northfield City Council Ward 3 – candidates and issues

Don McGee Erica Zwiefel 
Don McGee and Erica Zweifel are running for Northfield City Council, Ward 3. We’ve invited them to interact online with us (the LoGroNo Triumvirate) here in the message thread attached to this blog post for the next few days.

And then we’ll invite you, the citizens of Northfield, to also chime in over the next ten days or so. Here are some links to find out more about the candidates:

Candidate web sites:

Northfield.org (includes their answers to a dozen questions from citizens)

Northfield News:

  • Don McGee
  • Erica Zweifel


  1. Ross Currier said:

    Don and Erica –

    At last night’s Downtown Forum, Jay Walljapser repeatedly emphasized the importance of pedestrians.

    Whether in the context of contributing to vitality on the sidewalks, assuring accessibility for seniors and safety for children, luring people out of their cars and onto their feet, having attractive storefronts and dynamic public spaces to help create a destination, or just assuring sufficient numbers of benches on which to sit, the topic of pedestrians came up again and again in his remarks.

    If you were elected, do you have some specific initiatives that you would like the City and the Community to pursue that are supportive of pedestrians?

    Thanks much,


    October 24, 2008
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    And my standard question, since it wasn’t address in any of the other candidate Q&A formats:

    Can y’all comment on the plan for $880,000 of City Hall renovations?

    What are your top five, in order, Capital Improvement Plan projects?

    And has your thinking about this changed at all since the global financial meltdown has hit hard in the past month?

    October 24, 2008
  3. Erica Zweifel said:

    Good Question Ross. I was at last night’s event because I am a fan of downtown and of Jay Walljasper’s “The Great Neighborhood Book”. Last year I suggested that my book club read this book for discussion. I brought a copy of the park and rec master plan to the book club discussion and we talked about ideas from the book and how we could bring some of them to Northfield. It turned out that many of us from the book club do not travel downtown by bike or by foot because of safety issues. Those of us on the west side have to cross Hwy 3 to get downtown and those from the east side complained of a lack of sidewalks. The bottom line here is that as a community we have a lot of work to do to improve pedestrian safety.

    I have a vision of a connected Northfield. The west side is connected to downtown by a pedestrian bridge. This bridge could serve many functions. The bridge itself could be a work of art designed to be the northern gateway into Northfield. It could link the Qblock to historic downtown. The bridge would improve pedestrian safety. I feel that this idea falls nicely in line with many of the ideas found in our comprehensive plan.

    I would like to see more bicycle racks located in convenient places downtown. My favorite bike rack was in front of the library on Division Street. I could ride down Second Street and walk my bike to the rack, park it and then make my shopping rounds downtown. Sadly the rack was removed during the improvements to Division Street. Bike racks need to be located at the fringe of the downtown area so that bicyclers do not have to ride into the “no bikes on the sidewalk district” to get to a rack.

    Fortunately I do not live in a vacuum and do not need to come up with all of the ideas myself. We have a number of great plans in the works, which I am very excited about. I support the comprehensive plan and would use it as a guide in my decision making process if elected to council.

    I would also like to say that given the current financial situation that I realize that I may have to hold onto my vision for a while and focus on maintaining our essential services and infrastructure.

    October 24, 2008
  4. Tracy Davis said:

    Erica and Don,

    I’m posing the same questions to the other council and mayoral candidates; if you’ve answered them in other contexts, please point me to that information:

    1. Why do you want this position?

    2. What is your personal vision, passion, or hot-button issue as it relates to Northfield and public service here?

    October 25, 2008
  5. Erica Zweifel said:

    I do not support the proposal to spend $880,000 in renovations to City Hall. One of the goals of the Capital Improvement Plan is to prioritize our needs as a community. While the renovations would make City Hall more efficient, I do not feel that this ranks highly enough on our need scale given the current financial situation and the other projects on the CIP list.

    Griff, my thinking on the CIP has changed given the current financial times. I think that some of the time lines for projects will change. We will have to work hard to prioritize our needs as a community and stick to our budget.

    I would put the safety center and the library at the top of my CIP priority list for major projects. The community should keep in mind that the CIP addresses the city’s needs for facilities AND infrastructure, including maintaining existing assets. So I would put maintaining our essential infrastructure as a top priority. The CIP is designed to balance our capital needs with our available resources. It is a tool to use as we make long term planning decisions.

    October 25, 2008
  6. Don McGee said:

    Griff: Hope it is not too late to weigh in. I have opposed the $880,000 since it was proposed and told the council so. 1. A plan has not been made public. 2. $250,00 have been made available for improvements through the “Johnson Control” project. 3. This project should not butt in line with the other CIP projects.

    My top five CIP projects are 1. Library, the staff and boerd are on top of thi sproject including working on outside funding sources. 2. The safety center and it can move to No. 1 if a plan with a building concept, site and budget can be created. 3. Skateboard park.. The kids involved have raised money, more support has beenpedged if the council acts and the council has approved a site (Why is the council ignoring the kids?). 4. Liquor store should be upgraded to meet OSHA standards using the store fund balance. Any further olans should not use tax funds for expansion. %. City hall someday.

    The global meltdown only increases my position that 2009 should be a year of regrouping before we issues bonds for any major projects not already in the General Fund budget.

    Tracy: I made the decision to run for city council because the most important thing that th ecouncil neds right now is to operate in a businees like manner because we have a $25,000,000 per year
    operation. I have not seen any other candidates bring this perspective to the job. Fiscal resposibility is the most important thing to be addressed right now. My personal passion is for pedestrian safety. I have lost friends. I am currently typing this at the library which is a 1.5 mile walk from our house. Crossing hiway 3 is dangerous and discourages many from walking to downtown. We need a bridge acroos hiway 3 at second street.

    October 27, 2008
  7. Erica Zweifel said:

    I have been active in Northfield for many years and my involvement has touched on a number of issues. I feel that now is the time for me to offer my experience and passion for Northfield to elected public service. If elected I will work for; improved pedestrian safety and healthier communities, more transportation options and increased connectivity, adding mixed use development to the third ward, and moving Northfield toward greater sustainability. All of these issues are addressed in the new comprehensive plan. I am proud to have had input on this plan and I look forward to implementing it.

    October 28, 2008
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Citizens, feel free to keep asking questions of the Ward 3 candidates and/or discussing the candidates and issues among yourselves.

    Only five days left till the election!

    October 30, 2008
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Erica and Don, looks like this quote from the Thurs. candidates’ forum got attributed to the wrong person, according to this correction in today’s Nfld News:

    We’ve created an environment that’s turned city government into a blood sport. We have a case where the media, bloggers and rumor mongers are just waiting for someone to make a misstep.

    Don, do you ‘own’ the quote? If so, which bloggers are you talking about?  Or were you confusing bloggers (me, Tracy, Ross) with commenters?

    November 1, 2008
  10. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: Just a small/big ‘correction’: The NF NEws posted the quote with an incorrect attribution on their website; it WAS ALSO INCORRECT in the paper issue of Saturday’s paper!

    They then put a correction article on the website, and also corrected the version there, on the website. You have often complained about their lack of specificity when updating website stories; I didn’t bother to look at how they handled it (the corrected update) this time.

    I had sent them an inquiry about this, and received a return e-mail which said they would be putting a correction in the next issue of the paper ! Obviously this would be after the election!

    My comment to the paper and their (admin) reply to me engendered a long exchange in which they (admin) said they were proud of their “journalistic quality” (which I had criticized) over the last year and a half, and felt it was their “watchdog role” which had been responsible for ending the problems at city hall.

    The bottom line is: once again a serious error, and one that any newsroom intern could be fired for; one that may have impacted these two really good third ward candidates, and how people may vote for them.

    November 2, 2008

Leave a Reply