What will be your top priority if you are elected and why?
Doug Henke: My top priority will be completion of the Business Park. I believe it is important to bring new businesses to Kenyon and also to expand our tax base. Of course I am still committed to retaining downtown businesses and developing growth there, as well. The city of Kenyon has an Economic Development Authority, an up-to-date website and the Kenyon Area Business Association (KABA) as tools to help drive business. But to attract companies, we also need to attract more residents.
I think we need to make a great first impression when people visit our town. I’ve led a vigorous effort to clean up blight and improve the appearance of neighborhoods. We want visitors to realize that Kenyon is a good place to live and work, and a place that they could call home.
Jack Metcalf: If I am elected, I have two major priorities that I would begin work on immediately. First, my priority would be to focus on developing a comprehensive plan to revitalize our downtown area and to attract new businesses to the area. Supporting our local businesses and startups should be a priority, as they are the lifeblood of our community and nearly everyone who works in the city of Kenyon works for one of these small businesses.
Secondly, I would undertake a review of city finances, and would work with the Council and the City Administrator to find ways to lower costs for residents. We have all seen rising rates over the last several years in regards to taxes, utilities, and permits/city fees. I would focus on common-sense initiatives to keep costs down for residents while ensuring that residents had a voice in how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent
How will you navigate challenges created from the pandemic to keep your community/district flourishing?
DH: As mayor, I’ve been working almost daily with Goodhue County, state and federal officials. This pandemic is new and the information changes often. It is best to try and keep up with what is happening and make sure that current, reliable information is handed to the city.
I think flexibility is important for people, especially at this time. For example, each city department supervisor has worked out a schedule with employees to adjust to the workload in their departments.
JM: If elected, I would work with the City Council to enact a multi-tiered plan that would help families and businesses through the pandemic.
First, my plan would be to establish a moratorium on utility shutoffs by the city during the pandemic. This would be a huge relief to many local businesses and residents who are facing economic hardship due to COVID-19.
Secondly, I would focus on creating a local relief fund that was funded by a variety of traditional and non-traditional sources including redeployment of Community Development Block Grant funds, city funds, and other grant funds. In addition to directly providing funds, the city would work with residents and businesses to provide assistance with grant applications and available resources.
Lastly, I would focus on creating an online repository of resources that residents could access via the city of Kenyon website. This would include links to government programs and community resources.
If budget cuts become necessary, what criteria will you use to determine how to make those cuts.
DH: The city budget for 2021 has already been slashed to the bone, with only necessary purchases to be made to keep the city running. This is important, first so the city doesn’t fall behind financially, but also to avoid causing greater expense in the long term. The city budget is set at less than 3% increase for 2021. If we need to make further cuts, I will use common sense to make quality decisions with council members and use input from departments.
JM: If budget cuts do become necessary, I would first establish what services were essential to our city and ensure that they stay intact. Services such as police, the fire department, and public works work every day to make this city a great place to live and residents rely on these services to be there when needed. Additionally, services that affect resident quality of life would be priority.
After the determination of what services were essential to keep, I would focus budget cuts on non-essential services and services that could be put off. I would start with delays in capital improvements. I would also look to department heads to review their budgets and trim unnecessary expenditures. Lastly, I would enact a hiring freeze and put in purchasing restrictions, stripping purchasing down to essential purchases.
How will you work with the rest of the board/council to overcome challenges?
DH: With three new seats being filled on council, experience will be a challenge. We have one councilor who served as a Goodhue County Commissioner, which has been a great help. I can provide insights and background on projects, and I am willing to hear new ideas. Everyone brings different strengths to the board. I have confidence that whoever is elected to council will do what they feel is best for Kenyon.
JM: In my professional career, I have been fortunate enough to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, education levels, and values. I have always been able to fight for what I was thought was right, while respecting the ideas of others. Too often in society, we see people who simply shut down any opinion that does not conform to their beliefs and that does everyone a disservice.
A few strengths that I possess are my ability to communicate effectively and to negotiate. It would be my goal to be a voice for the residents of the city and to negotiate on their behalf. I would communicate my point of view to the rest of the council and be willing to listen and truly consider their points of view as well. My vote would be based on resident concerns and comments, as well as information obtained by the rest of the council to effectively represent the citizens of Kenyon.
What makes you qualified to serve in this position?
DH: I have current experience with Kenyon government, having served four years on the city council and most recently, 1½ years as appointed mayor after the death of Mayor Mike Engel. I am vice president of the Kenyon Veterans Color Guard and vice commander of American Legion Post 78 in Kenyon. I also serve on the Minnesota Veterans Cemetery Executive Board in Preston.
With 4.7 million miles traveled over 50 states, Canada and Mexico, I have been to many communities large and small. I have a good idea what people want and expect from their city government, and I have proven that I can lead effectively.
JM: While I have never served in an elected position before, I do have significant leadership experience in private organizations. I have led organizations through restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and been responsible for the day to day operations and financial performance. I would utilize my experience and education to make well-informed decisions for the city, that focused on growth and financial stability.