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Not a contest for chickens, who will be mayor of River Falls?

Former mayor (2004-12) Don Richards (left) and the man who beat him in 2012, Dan Toland, are again on the April 1 ballot for mayor. The office is the only contested position on the city’s ballot

Dan Toland has the job. He took it away two years ago from four-term incumbent Don “DR” Richards in a close election. These two met in a March 10 candidates forum at City Hall.

Said Richards: “I want to be mayor because several people asked me to be mayor and told me I did a good job…I believe that’s the case.

“We built a new City Hall; we won an America in Bloom or River Falls in Bloom Contest. We put up signs on the edges of the community that say something I strongly believe in: ‘Welcome, we’re building an inclusive community.’

“And we restored (River Falls Municipal Utility) to the top 10 of cities which have a high percentage of their citizens buying renewable energy. Just before I got to be mayor, we had fallen out of the top 10. I wrote a letter to RFMU customers and they responded magnificently.

“Secondly, I want to be mayor because I have a strong belief in customer service. I think that’s part of a mayor’s job. I’m currently a member of lots of organizations as a volunteer: St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, Assistance and Resource Center, Community Ed, the Academy site council, Meals on Wheels and I’m on a committee right now that’s trying to establish a free mental health clinic based on the clinic that now exists in the hospital.”

Said Toland (who with his wife runs Pearson Florist and Greenhouse): “I think that helps (running a business) because we know how to make tough decisions with money. We have so much money we have to spend the best way that’s possible for us in the city. So that comes along with being mayor.

“I want to make sure that we keep the level of service that our citizens have become used to – police/fire/ambulance -- make sure we keep all that up so we don’t have any issues there.

“I guess just keep doing what we’re doing, because we’re in a really good position, and I want to make sure we keep focused on that.”

“I want us to grow at a sustained rate, so we don’t get behind on the infrastructure or anything like that. We want to keep making sure we are looking down the road. We don’t make any snap decisions now. We look down the road: If we make that decision now, what is it going to look like in 20-30 years? Is it going to fit in with our vision for the city?”

The two mayoral candidates seemed to have their biggest split when it came to a question about raising chickens.

Said Toland: “I have no desire to have chickens in town. There are all sorts of places out in the country you can buy and raise whatever you want.”

Said Richards: “I’m a friend of chickens,” and added that with restrictions on coop placement and cleanliness, allowing city households to raise chickens could be beneficial.

A much longer version of this story can be found in the March 13 print edition of the River Falls Journal. 

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