Three candidates are vying for the mayor’s seat in Mound.

Incumbent Ray Salazar is competing against real estate agent Julie Distel and current city council member Sherrie Pugh 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?

Distel: I love Mound and want to see it grow and improve. I want the citizens of Mound to feel heard by their City Council and Leaders.

Pugh: Serving as a current council member, it became abundantly clear that leadership is vested in the Mayor. A mayor must be able to create a responsible vision that is responsive to the community. My expertise, experience and leadership will transition Mound to a vibrant and thriving small town that supports existing and attracts new businesses; transforms our parks into intergenerational space that serves those from 8 to 80, and supports our Farmers Market and Museum as key destination places. For 10 years the city has invested in infrastructure. Now it is time for enhanced livability improvements for Mound to fully become a healthy sustainable community.

Salazar: I born and raised in California and have had the oppotunitty to live in many cities accross our country and have found Mound, MN. to be the best! I have lived in Mound for 28 years and believe that Mound is a Diamond in the rough. I have had the honor to be your Mayor these past 2 years, I am seeking reelection to finish what I came to do: Make us proud of Mound again!

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

Distel: Over 20 years of experience in Building, Real Estate, and  Land Development. I have participated in city council meetings all over the Twin Cities and watched as they battled issues with growth and development and have seen the success in many cities as well as stuggles. 

Pugh: Having worked in the private, nonprofit and public sectors across rural small towns through urban neighborhoods gives me unique expertise and knowledge of leveraging resources for our community’s benefit. Currently, I teach entrepreneurship classes so I know the challenges start-up businesses face. I’ve greatly benefitted from the learnings of communities tackling intergenerational design plans. This broad diversity of experiences affords me the ability to think comprehensively. I have critical skills in forming collaborations and partnerships to accomplish community prosperity; for one example: the partnership with Thor construction and Sienna (developers of Bear Path) to develop one of the largest new construction subdivisions in Minneapolis: Heritage Park.

Salazar: As your Mayor and previously Councilman. I am a small business owner, Home Owner and Father I know what it takes to: Run our City, Maintain a City Budget, Build and complete infrastructure and plan for our Future and our citizens’ interests. I have the Experience. Ive been in business all of my life, I know how to run a businesses and make a profitable. I know what is possible for our City. Our first responsibility is Police, Fire, Water and Streets. I watch out for your money, while investing for our citys future. I have “Common Sense and Conservative Values”.

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

Distel: Listen! Let them be heard and bring issues to the table. We have a great community of people with strong visions for our town. Wanting to see improvements with our infrastructure as well as making it easier for our businesses to do business and grow.

Pugh: The most recent pressing issue expressed by Mound residents is their desire for more businesses in our town. The ability of Mound to attract new businesses can be challenging but it starts with us - the residents. I want to start a “Buy Mound” program. Strong support of our local businesses will draw the interest of new businesses. We have already demonstrated the impact of buying local during the Covid 19 quarantine: we stayed home, we shopped at home and our local businesses had record sales. Lets maintain that: there is no need to drive 5 to 8 miles away when you can buy local. We will need to also attract builders for development of reasonable commercial space for the businesses we attract.

Salazar: We have invested over 70 million dollars in our city over the past 15 years : all new streets, improved infrastructure, parks, capital improvemnet projects, and equipment. We have more to do; 7 more lift stations, improved water quality through looping and mixing and redevelopment of our Downtown. We established a Long Term Financial Plan to build an Infrastructure Replacement Reserve Fund for the next generation of streets (avoiding special assesments), City buildings, parks and equipment. I am establishing an Economic Developement committee comprised of Council members and citizens at large to seek out businesses to locate in Mound.

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

Distel: I would say my career in Real Estate. I have a strong understanding of what it takes to make cities grown. I have a willingness to listen and learn from others and want to make sure every voice is heard on issues affecting our community. From schools to businesses to new housing opportunities. My experience in Real Estate working with national as well as local home builders, and the cities, as land is bought and developed has taught me a lot.

Pugh: My expertise in Community Economic Development is extensive. The range of professional and volunteer accomplishments that I have been engaged in include: Chair, MN Age Friendly Council; Vice Chair, Minnesota Board on Aging; ACT on Alzheimer’s; Governors Alzheimer’s Working Group; MN State Arts Board Grant Panel, reviewer; Chair, Rainbow Research Board; Legislative Salary Commission, member; Former WeCAN Board, member. My work in philanthropy included: Headwaters Fund – Minneapolis, MN; LISC Fund for Community Economic Development – Chicago, IL, and the Foundation for the MidSouth- Jackson, MS

Salazar: I have served as your Mayor and prior Councilman. I am a successful business owner. I Streamlined and balanced our budget, stregthened our Police force with Orono PD, invested in our Fire Departments capital equipment, completed reconstruction of all city streets, improved our infrastructure, 23 lift stations and parks, completed the 2040 Comprehensive plan, implemented the Long Term Financial Plan, assissted the Westonka Soccer association indoor practice facility. I am implementing an Economic Develpoment Committee to plan and seek out businesses to locate in Mound. I have the experience to lead as your Mayor, with “Common Sense” Conservative Values.”

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