Two candidates are facing off for the mayor’s seat in Minnetrista.

Incumbent Lisa Whalen is up against current Minnetrista council member Shannon Bruce in the General Election on Nov. 3.

Each candidate was asked the same questions by Sun Patriot Newspapers, and here are their responses

Question 1: What prompted you seek election (or re-election) to office?

Bruce: To be honest it was because no one else would do it. Whalen ran unopposed last time and I believe her campaign committee, Our Minnetrista, had made it difficult, if not impossible, to get anyone to run in Minnetrista that was not sanctioned by them. In my term on the city council I saw much that needed changing. I also saw relationships between vendors, city staff and mayor that drove decisions that were questionable in my opinion and not in the best interest of residents.

Whalen: I’m running because Minnetrista needs to continue having qualified, experienced leadership at the helm in order to successfully address all the issues that face an ever-growing community. I have been Mayor for 6 years, served on the Council for 12 years, chaired many organizations and commissions, and owned and operated a small business for 25 years. All of this has given me the leadership skills and experience to navigate difficult situations and issues. Over the past 6 years much has been accomplished, but there is still more to do. I would like to see the positive changes that we’ve made under my leadership continue.

Question 2: What separates you from your opponent(s)?

Bruce: I believe my commitment to being open, honest and basing my decisions on a set of foundational principles and values that have integrity. I don’t need to be popular with vendors, contractors or even city staff. I just need to be able to look in the mirror and know I did the right thing for Minnetrista.

Whalen: I believe I’m the better candidate not only due to my many years of city government experience and knowledge, but because I work collaboratively with fellow council members, staff, consultants and residents to reach better outcomes. My philosophy of leadership is to inspire those around me, give credit where credit is due, be civil and respectful, and consider all points of view. A good leader will anticipate and navigate difficult issues and search for outcomes that are in the best interest of the entire community. Oftentimes, that means thinking outside the box, always being open to new ideas and learning from others.

Question 3: What is the most pressing issue facing the constituency you hope to represent?

Bruce: I believe Minnetrista actually has two pressing issues to address immediately. One is getting high-speed internet service to all residents. That will require focusing on encouraging competition and removing existing barriers to the Minnetrista market. The other pressing issue is eliminating the conflict of interests currently in our relationship with our contracted city engineering firm where a financial interest is present in most every recommendation they make to the city. Minnetrista is overly dependent on this outside firm and needs in-house engineering expertise that has no financial interest in city projects to advise the city and council on priorities.

Whalen: Better roads and improved internet. Continue to implement our pavement management plan is a must. I recently proposed that Minnetrista seek additional reimbursement from our State Aid account. This provides us with a one-time infusion of funds for our local roads, at no additional expense to our tax payers. Poor, slow and interrupted internet is another pressing issue. I will research all options to improve internet service and work collaboratively with other communities to have our needs and voices heard at the County and State level. With many working remotely, this a critical component of everyday life.

Question 4: What in your background/experience best qualifies you for this office?

Bruce: I understand the role of elected representatives in city government and how important it is for constituents to have an advocate putting their priorities above the many competing, conflicting interests that come before the council. I’ve worked with and consulted for corporations, small businesses, associations, churches, schools and government agencies and understand how they work…what drives their decision-making. I’ve managed employees, legal contracts and had profit/loss responsibility for millions of dollars in a fast-growing company. Minnetrista needs a Mayor with the background, education, principles and values to lead an open, honest city government that inspires trust and puts residents first.

Whalen: I’ve already mentioned my many years of public and non-profit experience. In addition, I was honored to receive the 2017 Women in City Government Leadership Award which encompasses all of Minnesota. I operated my own business for 25 years. As an Interior Designer I had to listen to my clients, find out what their needs were, work within their budget and often times be a consensus builder. Above all I was a problem solver. Having to “think outside the box” and come up with creative solutions to challenging problems was all part of the job. These are all skills I have applied to my current position as Mayor.

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