When Big Lake Mayor Paul Knier was elected to his post in the November 2020 election, he vacated his city council seat.
That seat has sat open since January.
The Big Lake City Council is close to having four council members once again due to the special city council election set for Tuesday, April 13.
Three candidates are seeking the one vacant seat: Ketti Green, Kim Noding, and Rev. Donna Pouliot.
Polls at Big Lake City Hall, the public works building and Saron Lutheran Church will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13.Results of the election will be posted on the City of Big Lake’s website after ballots are processed.
The Monticello Times met with three city council candidates. Their stories are below in alphabetical order.
Ketti Green works in jail administration for the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office. The longtime Big Lake resident and veteran of the U.S. Navy has served on the city’s planning commission for 14 years and feels the work on the commission has prepared her for the step up to serving on the Big Lake City Council.
“I’ve seen and learned a lot about Big Lake through serving on the planning commission,” Green says.
“I want to help shape and guide the city and look out for the future of our children for generations to come,” she said.
In addition to serving on the city planning commission, Green has also served on many boards and committees throughout the community. As a city council member, Green says she would look forward to having a hand in continuing to shape the future of Big Lake. That includes the Jaycees, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee, Spudfest Committee, and work with the school’s graduation party committee, a leader within Girl Scouts.
Ketti Green says her knowledge of the city’s comprehensive plan and experience in working with city staff gives her a lot to offer in being a part of the city’s plan for the future.
“I want to be a voice,” she said.
Green has a lot to offer a member of the city council, she says.
“Being on the planning commission, I have ground-floor knowledge of the city’s comprehensive plan,” she said.
In addition, as a chairperson of the planning commission, she has extensive experience in not only working with others on behalf of what’s best for the city, but as a person who is experienced in running meetings.
Green says she is not afraid to ask the hard questions in order to do what’s best for the city and do what’s right for the city.
She says it’s also important to not be focused just on the here and now. It’s important for a city council member to act with the future in mind- and she intends to do just that if elected.
Green is running on the campaign platform of supporting the police and fire departments, while committing to help lower the city’s debt while serving as an advocate for Big Lake.
“Big Lake is one of the safest city’s in Minnesota and I’m committed to supporting the police and fire departments,” Green said.
But along with supporting the city’s emergency services comes the fiscal responsibility of being the watchdog over the departments’ spending while also providing them the equipment and support they need.
When it comes to lowering the city’s debt, Green acknowledges that past city councils have worked hard towards that goal.
“We have to work to continue that work,” she said.
Green also says that every item that comes before the city council needs to be looked at based on its own merits.
When it becomes advocating for Big Lake, Green sees councilors as also being ambassadors for the city. If elected, Green is committed to working to make Big Lake not only a great place to live, but a great place to visit.
Green also sees a need for what she calls “step-up” housing- housing for people ready to graduate from their starter homes or apartments. There is also a need for more senior housing, such as patio homes- when seniors are ready to downsize from their large homes.
“We need to provide for our longtime residents who no longer are able or want to take care of their longtime homes,” she said.
Green wants Big Lake to be the best city in Minnesota.
“I love Big Lake and want it to grow positively,” Green said.
“I’m proud to call Big Lake home.
Kim Noding has lived in Big Lake for 26 years. She works in the family business, Beautiful Kitchens and Baths of Big Lake. She also works full-time in the domestic tax division of Cargill at its Twin Cities-based corporate offices.
Noding is known in many circles of around Big Lake.
Noding has been instrumental in organizing local Night to Unite events in Big Lake, is an administrator of community groups on Facebook, and has long served on regional arts boards as a board member advocating for community theater, volunteering, and being active in grant writing.
Noding has also started and managed a regional home school cooperative.
As Noding’s children started growing older, she had the time to start taking an interest in the city and city government.
So much so, that she and her friends started having regular meetings with Big Lake’s past mayors as a way to stay informed about the ins and outs of city government.
Through those interactions, Noding became an informed citizen. That led to her circle of friends encouraging her to run for past openings on the council.
But being a mother of eight and having two jobs didn’t leave Noding the time she felt she needed to serve on the council. But that changed this year.
“The kids are grown, I have a good, stable job, and the family business is a success,” Noding said.
“I know have the head-space to think thoroughly about the things I need to as a city council member,” she said.
Fiscal responsibility is near and dear to Noding. Fiscal responsibility is one of the platforms on which Noding is running.
“Big Lake has done a good job paying down its debt, and we need to continue to do that without sacrificing community livability and safety,” Noding said.
Noding also pledges to work to build the business community in Big Lake if elected.
“I believe in enthusiastically recruiting new businesses in town and then providing those businesses with support,” Noding said.
“That will enhance the economy and bring jobs,” she said.
Noding also believes Big Lake needs to provide well-planned senior housing for those who have lived their lives and supported the city over the years. That includes housing for those who are ready to downsize from their longtime homes to smaller homes in their latter years.
“Big Lake has nothing like that,” she said.
And as Big Lake grows, there is a need to have more well-managed rentals at a variety of price-points to help community members meet their living needs, Noding said.
Noding says she long ago acquired a love for Big Lake, and that love for the community has grown stronger throughout the many years she has lived in the community.
“I have a passion to see Big Lake grow,” Noding said.
“I love seeing the city continue its path of beautification. I’m proud of Big Lake and enjoy living here.”
Rev. Donna Pouliot is a U.S. Army veteran who is dedicated to veterans, especially female veterans, from the demons they may have encountered during their military careers through her ministry as an ordained pastor.
Pouliot, who is past Cherokee, African and Welch-English, hails from Chicago, served in the Army in Germany, and became a registered nurse when her Army days were over. Donna Pouliot’s faith led her to becoming an inter-faith minister. She returned to school in Kansas City to obtain a master’s degree in theology and in music ministry. Her ministry work led her to Sheridan, Wyoming, where in 2007 she founded Higher Place Ministry.
While living in Wyoming, Pouliot worked for the betterment of Native Americans as a member of the Council for the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
She also lived in Coos Bay, Oregon, where she worked for eight years with law enforcement and government officials as an advocate for human rights.
The mother of four, grandmother of 19, and great-grandmother of two, moved to Big Lake three years ago to be closer to family.
Today, Pouliot provides pastoral care to inmates at the St. Cloud prison and Sherburne County Jail. She is also the adjunct of the Monticello American Legion post.
Pouliot is running for city council because she says people in the Big Lake community have come to her with their concerns about the treatment they have received from both community members and the police.
“Fifteen percent of Big Lake is non-white,” Pouliot said. “A lot of people have told me they feel they aren’t being represented,” Pouliot said.
“People tell me they have no representation. They have no voice. Nobody cares. That’s why I’m getting involved,” she added.
Pouliot says she has also been approached by some veterans who have said they are not being represented.
“I’ve been told that they don’t feel respected or honored,” Pouliot said.
According to Pouliot, there are veterans, non-whites, and people of different sexual orientation who are not being represented.
As a human rights advocate, she hopes to change that if elected.
“I feel the totality of Big Lake’s population is not being represented- and that’s not right because they pay taxes and own property,” she said.
From veterans, to people of color, those struggling by living paycheck to paycheck, and members of the LGBQ community, Pouliot says she wants to help people find their voice.
When taking a deep look at Big Lake, Pouliot says she has one observation.
“Just because it’s always been done, doesn’t make it right,” she said.
Pouliot also says she wants people to understand that even though she is a woman of color, her running for city council isn’t about race.
“It’s not about me wanting to be the first African, Cherokee, or English-Welch on the city council. It’s about the treatment of the citizens of Big Lake,” she said.
Donna Pouliot says she is a great supporter of police and fire departments.
“I don’t believe in defunding police,” she said.
But she does believe the city needs to recruit females and non-white people to its police force and fire department.
She also supports working with the police and fire departments to establish more programs to address the issues surrounding mental health.
“I believe we need to look deeper into those things,” she said.
Pouliot also is an advocate for preserving recreation in Big Lake.
“Big Lake and Lake Mitchell are two major sources of our recreation and we need more programs aimed at preserving the lakes,” she said.
She advocates for alternatives to using salt on the roads during the winter season as one way to help preserve the lakes, she said.
Reach Jeff Hage at firstname.lastname@example.org