2015 Election - New Brighton candidates talk budget, water safety

Dave Jacobsen
Dave Jacobsen
Gina Bauman
Gina Bauman
Val Johnson
Val Johnson
Mary Burg
Mary Burg
 Susan Erickson
Susan Erickson
Paul Jacobsen
Paul Jacobsen
Richard "Rick" Moses
Richard "Rick" Moses

With two at-large city council seats up for grabs, current council members Mary Burg and Paul Jacobsen look to hold onto their seats against challengers Susan Erickson and Richard “Rick” Moses.

Mayor Dave Jacobsen seeks to keep his spot against current council member Gina Bauman and mayoral hopeful Val Johnson.

The Bulletin asked candidates about what skills and experience they would bring to elected office, what challenges they think their cities face in upcoming years and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

Mayor

Dave Jacobsen

Jacobsen, who did not provide his age, has held the position of New Brighton mayor for the past six years. He is retired from Onan Corporation and married to Kathy.

Jacobsen says his experience is one of the biggest things that sets him apart from his opponents and that his years of team leading in a corporate setting also gave him the temperament to fulfill mayoral duties. Because he is retired, Jacobsen says he has the time to perform the duties of mayor.

One of the top challenges he sees New Brighton facing is the continued work at the New Brighton Exchange. When he first started as mayor, he says the city was pouring money into the development

"As mayor I worked diligently to find solutions for the difficult issues," Jacobsen says. "While the work is not finished, I am optimistic for the future of the New Brighton Exchange."

If reelected, Jacobsen says he would continue to prioritize the budget. He says he has led the city to develop long-range financial plans while maintaining high levels of city services with taxes remaining stable.

Gina Bauman

Bauman, who did not provide her age, has been on the city council for 10 years, works for Cargill and is married to Corey.

Having managed a $500 million budget, Bauman says her strong and diverse financial background is a skill she would put to use as mayor. She says her 10-year record shows she is the only council member who consistently votes to match spending to revenue, without using reserves or raising taxes

"I have been the voice for the people with unwavering commitment, respect and dedication," Bauman says.

The safety of New Brighton's drinking water is a challenge Bauman sees the city facing in upcoming years and she says she has knowledge and understanding of the ongoing water negotiations.

If elected, Bauman says she would make the budget her top priority, saying the city budget has had imbedded increases of 7-10 percent in the last two years, including hidden franchise fees.

"I have the leadership and consensus building skills needed that will give residents the peace of mind that they will not be taxed out of their homes," Bauman says. "I proudly advocate responsible spending of your tax dollars, and will always be transparent."

Val Johnson

Johnson, 57, is CEO of Roundabout Ventures LLC and owner of The Village Scoop. She has a bachelor's degree in business administration from St. Catherine University.

Johnson has lived in New Brighton for more than 50 years and is on the board of directors for New Brighton Area Historical Society and is vice-president of community relations for Stockyard Days.

"My values are New Brighton values," Johnson says.

She says the biggest challenge facing New Brighton in upcoming years is the economic development of the city. Johnson says finding businesses to fill the New Brighton Exchange needs to be a focus of the mayor.

The safety of New Brighton's drinking water is another challenge Johnson says needs to be addressed.

If elected, she says she will work to bring new businesses to New Brighton and will also provide fiscal oversight to provide services that citizens demand, while keeping the budget in line. 

"I will prioritize bringing decency, respect and relevance back to the city council," Johnson says. "I will work to bring back the voice of the citizens to the council."

Council candidates

Mary Burg

Burg, 61, is an employment specialist case manager for Guild Incorporated. She has diplomas from National American University and Anoka Technical College and is married to Ron.

Burg has been on the council for 12 years and says her proven record of promoting policy that strengthens the city’s financial position makes her uniquely qualified for the council.

"I have 39 years as a small business owner and understand the impact of council actions on our community. I have a commitment to making our community go in the right direction," Burg says.

Burg says she will continue to support the services and meet the demands of New Brighton and says she has supported critical maintenance of infrastructure.

If reelected, Burg says she would continue to focus on long-term financial sustainability.

"I will support and encourage both public and private partnerships to meet our strategic goals. I am committed to this community and focus on excellence and I will listen to the residents to whom I serve," Burg says.

Susan Erickson

Erickson, who did not provide her age, is a paralegal at Fisher, Bren & Sheridan, LLP. She attended Lasell College in Brighton, MA.

Leaning on her paralegal experience, Erickson says it helps her research the issues, allowing her to ask the right questions.

"My background and listening, plus critical thinking skills, make me uniquely qualified to find the best solutions to address challenging issues facing New Brighton," Erickson says.

Like other candidates, Erickson says a challenge the city faces is the budget. Erickson says she would make necessary budget cuts without losing core services.

Erickson says another challenge the city faces is safe drinking water, which she says could be achieved by supporting negotiations with the Army.

If elected, Erickson says she would put the people and best interests of New Brighton first.

"My vision for New Brighton is a safe, prosperous and vibrant community," Erickson says. "It is crucial that our new Council be receptive, thoughtful, fair and respectful."

Paul Jacobsen

Jacobsen, 54, has held his seat for one 4-year term and is the director of digital health project management for OPTUM. He has a master’s degree from St. Cloud State and is married to Denise.

Jacobsen says his leadership and management experience separate him from other council candidates, noting that he is a retired lieutenant colonel with more than 32 years of military experience.

The top challenges facing New Brighton, Jacobsen says, are city finances and budgeting, water contamination and development.

Of these three, he says he would prioritize the budget, noting the debt has been paid down and that reserve funds have been stabilized but that more work needs to be done.

"Our levy is similar to what it was in 2007, but we trimmed excess fat in the budget and now need to look into where to direct our limited resources and the needs for future funding/budgeting to ensure our city remains a great place to work, play, and live," Jacobsen says, "Not just for ourselves, but also for our children."

Richard "Rick" Moses

Moses, 65, is a retired data analyst with Thomson Reuters. He earned an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and is married to Jane.

He says his years of experience as a data analyst, plus his business degree and writing experience, equip him for challenges he may face as a council member.

"I have followed local city politics for more than a decade and have quietly supported candidates who are fiscally responsible," Moses says. "Now it’s my turn."

Moses says the city has taken an about face when it comes to tax levies. He says ways need to be found to keep property tax increases between 0 percent and 2 percent and that he would oppose any increases that are greater than 2 percent.

One thing he will prioritize is modifying the chicken ordinance that passed back in May.

"They failed to listen to the majority of citizens and ignored expert testimony," Moses says.

He says he would do so by either enacting a complete ban on chickens or putting in place stronger restrictions and fee-based registration.

 

Election day is Nov. 3. Most polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Find your polling place at http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us or by calling 651-266-2171.

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or staffwriter@lillienews.com.

 

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