City Council: Three races up for grabsOn April 5 elections will be held for four council seats in the city of River Falls. Three of those are contested.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
On April 5 elections will be held for four council seats in the city of River Falls. Three of those are contested.
The following are excerpts from a March 7 City Council candidates forum sponsored by the River Falls Optimist Club.
Incumbent Randy Kusilek says the council will be stronger and wiser by keeping the current members who are seasoned, pragmatic and fiscally conservative. “We have some people here that know what’s going on.”
Kusilek said the city has made budget cuts and might have to make more — just like households in River Falls have done. He also favors the push to expand industrial and corporate parks, saying, “You need jobs to keep people here.”
Challenger Josh Hudek supports local job creation, but he said too much focus is given to high-tech corporate jobs. He also says the current industrial and corporate parks aren’t full and that lots could be combined to bring in bigger companies.
Hudek praises the council for supporting the efforts of Our Neighbors’ Place to set up an overnight homeless shelter.
However, he said the city is underestimating and overlooking growing social problems in its own backyard like hunger, homelessness and domestic violence.
Incumbent Tom Caflisch is a big proponent of industrial parks, saying they boost the city’s economy and its tax base. He said the north-side corporate park, with its high-tech, well-paying firms, has a reputation as one of the finest in the region.
Caflisch admitted you can never please all constituents all of them time, but added that if council members act in the best interests of the entire community, they will be doing “what’s best for most of (their) constituents.”
Challenger Todd Coleman stressed that as a council member he would bring a rational, calm approach to the job and treat every constituent with respect. He said this means compromising when necessary, even if that means the outcome isn’t a win-win, but “maybe a partial loss.”
Coleman said the current council, though well-intentioned, needs a youthful shot in the arm in the form of “new energy, new ideas and new perspectives” that he was more than capable of providing.
Incumbent Jim Nordgren said he wants to keep the city on track for sound fiscal policy, keeping taxes down, controlling spending, and maintaining basic infrastructure like roads before they deteriorate.
He said the industrial/corporate development brings in new revenue that eases the tax burden for all city residents.
While he only represents a district, Nordgren said he bears in mind how his council votes affect the entire city.
Challenger Eunice Beauchman says she will bring a pro-small business view to the council. She said that includes doing more to retain and bring shops and stores to Main Street.
She supports mixed-use, self-sufficient neighborhood clusters and adds, “We want to avoid urban sprawl…We don’t want to look like Woodbury.”
Like Coleman, Beauchman emphasized meeting all sides halfway to find solutions. She said raising a family has taught her this, “As a mother, I’ve mastered the art of compromise.”
In District 3, incumbent David Reese is running unopposed. He supports his colleagues on the council who are running but also said: “Vote for people who are knowledgeable and will represent you well.”
Read more about area elections in the March 31 print edition of the River Falls Journal.