This story has been updated to include Ward 2 candidate John Mansfield's responses.

Ward 1 Special Election

Jeremy Conrath

Occupation: Waseca County Correctional Officer

Education: South Central College — Degree in Sales Management

Prior government experience: Four-year member of Waseca City Council

What are your top priorities as a council member?

To guide Waseca through the economic struggles that COVID-19 has created. I want to continue to fix Waseca’s infrastructure. I also want to attract new businesses to town and be as financially responsible as possible.

What can Waseca do to revive industry?

We just hired an Economic Recovery Coordinator that is paid for by a grant from the federal government. This new position is to recruit new businesses to Waseca. As a council anything else we can do to make it more attractive to have businesses come here, for example reduced taxes.

In what ways do you see Vision 2030 helping Waseca?

Vision 2030 is a way for the city to have a goal to achieve, we then develop ways to achieve that goal and make sure the steps are taken to achieve that goal. For me, Vision 2030 is trying to improve the city in all areas.

How can Waseca retain talent in the city and attract new talent?

We retain talent by having a great quality of life here in Waseca. To attract new talent, we have to get the word out how great it is to live in Waseca and get people to come to Waseca and see how great it is.

What issues has COVID-19 brought to light with city services?

COVID-19 created city council zoom meetings that have been going on since March. I don’t like not having in person meetings because the residents of Waseca are not bringing their concerns to the city council like they used to when we met in person. Obviously, it has affected other city day to day operations by limiting person to person contact.

Ward 1

Ted Conrath

Occupation: Coatings Process Technician at Viracon

Education: Graduated from Waseca High School

Prior government experience: Paid, on-call firefighter for the City of Waseca from December 2011 to January 2017

What are your top priorities as a council member?

To help make the city as financially responsible as possible. To help our current businesses in whatever way possible make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

What can Waseca do to revive industry?

I believe we have to take care of our business we have in order to attract new ones, whether that’s helping with grants or tax assistance to grow our local businesses.

In what ways do you see Vision 2030 helping Waseca?

Anytime you can have a long term plan is a good idea, it allows for making smaller plans now to get to the larger goal farther out.

How can Waseca retain talent in the city and attract new talent?

I don’t believe we have an issue with talent in our community, we have some very strong foundations that have helped to keep growing that. I believe our numerous small businesses are examples of this, so whatever we can do as a council to help will keep the talent local.

What issues has COVID-19 brought to light with city services?

Waseca has some of the best first responders in the state and I believe they have handled the COVID-19 response wonderfully with extra precautions and extra PPE.

Waseca City Council, Ward 2

Les Tlougan

Occupation: Retired Waseca High School Teacher

Education:

Bachelor’s Degree – Mathematics

Master’s Degree – Library/Media

Prior government experience:

Current member of the Waseca City Council

Current member of the Waseca Heritage Preservation Commission (since 2002)

Current member and President of the Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library Board (21 years)

Past member of the Waseca Planning Commission (16 years)

What are your top priorities as a council member?

I support continued maintenance and improvements in city infrastructure (water, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, streets and sidewalks) The goal for streets, sidewalks and trails is to make Waseca an inviting place to live and keep residents safe on our streets. The goal of water and sewer improvements is move storm water away from homes and basements. I support city efforts to bring new businesses to Waseca and keep existing businesses in Waseca (most recently ConAgra).

What can Waseca do to revive industry?

Waseca hired an Economic Development Coordinator to help local businesses to expand and promote new businesses locating to Waseca. The goal is to provide more and better paying jobs. Waseca residents and new residents will benefit. The community as a whole will benefit from long term economic stability. Also of interest will be the impact on communities like Waseca of the COVID-19 pandemic with more people working remotely from home.

In what ways do you see Vision 2030 helping Waseca?

Vision 2030 was developed through community engagement. The fact that so many residents participated in the development of the Vision 2030 plan makes clear that as a community, we want to be involved in developing and implementing solutions that better our future. The city has recently added a Lead for Minnesota fellow to work directly on promoting and working with local government, organizations, and residents to move Vision 2030 forward.

How can Waseca retain talent in the city and attract new talent?

Start by keeping and improving what makes Waseca an inviting place to live and work. We already have a strong educational system which is a must for young families. We also must provide amenities that will draw and keep families and individuals, young and old, in Waseca – beautiful public parks, a water park, walking and bike trails, bike lanes, and athletic facilities. We also have our Historic Downtown Waseca that was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places that will draw visitors to our community and also be a reminder to Waseca residents of our heritage.

What issues has COVID-19 brought to light with city services?

Like many communities, Waseca city staff have had to adjust the ways in which they interact with community members. Safety has always been a major part of their jobs, but that has taken on a whole new meaning. City Council meetings have been remote since March, not only to protect staff and council members, but also to protect our citizens from unintended exposure to COVID-19. Also of interest will be the impact on communities like Waseca of the COVID-19 pandemic with more people working remotely from home.

John Mansfield

Occupation: Small business owner

Education: University of St. Thomas Masters Degree CS

BA University of St. Thomas

Prior government experience: U.S. Army Reserves 88-91 79th Military Police Co. Desert Shield/Desert Storm

What are your top priorities as a council member?

I have two main priorities. The first is to work with the city council to reduce spending and reign in the local taxes. The second is to meet with local business leaders to find ways of bringing more new businesses to Waseca. Some of this can be accomplished through lower regulations and fiscal reform. The other issues I am in favor of are keeping our community safe by supporting our local law enforcement and emergency services, keeping our streets open all winter and finding a way to keep our lakes clean.

What can Waseca do to revive industry?

We need to sell our community by showing industry that we are willing to work with them to make it fiscally advantageous to come here. We have a great location but need to work to reduce the start-up costs caused by overregulation and high taxes. Waseca is changing from big industry to smaller businesses and a tourist shopping environment. Other cities have enjoyed this combination and flourished. I hope to invite representatives from these cities to help us understand what worked for them. This can help us achieve the same type of successes that they've experienced.

In what ways do you see Vision 2030 helping Waseca?

Vision 2030 is a general outline put forth to give a holistic goal structure to our city development. I believe it can be helpful to look forward but hope to focus on a more formal and limited role of our city government. This would allow a more organic and natural development through individual businesses' ability to grow and bring new ideas to Waseca rather than depending on the government or outside organizations like Lead for America or Lead for Minnesota. These organizations seek to increase local spending by bringing in outside governmental funds and leaving us with an increased bill to maintain the new projects.

How can Waseca retain talent in the city and attract new talent?

Part of attracting new talent is making it affordable to live here. We have great people and a great community to offer. Our schools are ranked high in the state and we have a wonderful faith community that is active throughout the local community. To retain good teachers, waiters, construction workers, farmers, computer techs and the many other occupations here, we need to build houses and continue to develop the downtown small businesses. Again, this means cutting spending, reducing taxes, looking at the city budget and making fiscally prudent decisions that will help us move forward.

What issues has COVID-19 brought to light with city services?

I believe the sooner we return to a normal life the better. The city however is under the constraints dictated to it by the state legislature and the governor. I believe they are doing everything required by law to maintain a healthy environment. I would support in-person meetings and open to the public as soon as possible though.

Mayor Roy Srp is running unopposed and did not return a questionnaire sent to him.

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