vote 2020

To provide our readers with information to help them in their decision-making at the polls during the Nov. 3 General Election, the Record sent out a questionnaire to each of the candidates who filed for a seat on their city council.

Only candidates in races where the candidates outnumbered the seats available were sent questionnaires. This year, those are the candidates for the Little Falls City Council, Wards 1 and 3, the Motley mayor and two seats on the Upsala City Council.

The candidates were asked to introduce themselves, to respond to a number of questions and to provide a photo. Each of the candidates was asked to limit their responses to the questions to 100 words.

Following are the questions sent to each of the candidates in contested races:

  • Question 1: Have you ever served in elected office before and if so, in what capacity?
  • Question 2: The number one reason you have decided to seek elected office?
  • Question 3: What do you feel is the greatest concern facing your city?
  • Question 4: What do you feel is the greatest strength of your city?
  • Question 5: If elected, what one thing do you most hope to accomplish for your city during your term?

LITTLE FALLS CITY COUNCIL

WARD 1

Raquel Lundberg

Raquel Lundberg

Raquel Lundberg

Introduction: My name is Raquel Lundberg. I have lived in Little Falls for almost 14 years and have truly found it to be a place to call home. My husband Scott and I owned and operated the Waller House Inn for 13 years. My hobbies include cooking, canning, sewing, knitting and beadwork. I support small business and the local economy, and am excited when I learn of a new small business venture in our town. I am always available to listen to my constituents, with sincere hopes of finding a solution that is beneficial for all involved parties.

Question 1: I have served one four-year term on the Little Falls City Council, six years on the board of directors for the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, three years on the board at Great River Arts. Previous to moving to Little Falls, I served six years on the Council of St. Paul’s Church in Minneapolis.

Question 2: I feel it’s important to run for another term because I believe that I have a lot to give. I have learned much in the last four years that I can put into practice. I have a good understanding of our ordinances, procedures and budget. I care about our community and my desire is to keep Little Falls a healthy, happy and safe place for all. I believe that all humans are created equal, in God’s image, and therefore I aim to treat everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of race, color, creed, age or orientation.

Question 3: Right now, I believe that the greatest concern facing Little Falls is the budget. In a year of COVID-19, the state’s revenue has decreased, which will potentially affect the amount of Local Government Aid we receive. Our city administrator, along with the council, is working hard to find ways to cut spending so as not to raise taxes. While much of our infrastructure is old and needs updating, I think some projects can be put on hold for a short time in order to keep taxes low now.

Question 4: Little Falls’ greatest natural asset is without a doubt the Mississippi River. But as a community of people, we have many strengths. The way the city has come along side small businesses this year is incredible. Over 72 small businesses have received grants from the city to help in this time of crisis. We also have a community of genuine, caring and generous individuals who step up in times of need to help each other out. I’m continually amazed at the support our attractions and non-profits raise, due to the generous nature of our citizens.

Question 5: If elected this fall, I will find ways to cut spending and not raise taxes. Still, I hope to find a way to get a splash pad and band shell. I’ve heard it said that it’s not the river that divides the west side from the east side as much as it’s the railroad tracks. We can cross the river, but we always have to stop for trains. I will advocate for funding for a bridge over the tracks. I also want my constituents to know that I’m always available for a conversation, so please call or stop by!

Sarah Okroi

Sarah Okroi

Sarah Okroi

Introduction: I am a lifetime resident, raising a fifth generation in Little Falls. I have worked in Little Falls all my life, I support local businesses and I am 100% invested in the positive growth of our community. I hold many hats; as a mother to three kiddos, an advocate for those with disabilities, as a volunteer and in my career as a supervisor. I have no problem saying it how it is, standing up against injustice or being the sole voice standing up for what is right.

Question 1: I have not yet served in an elected office, but I would love the opportunity to have a seat at the table and show our community what we can do when we listen to, understand and work together towards the same goal. I have given of my time and talents in volunteer roles throughout our community, raising funds for the Project Lifesaver Program of Morrison County, The Purple Carrot Market board and starting the annual Sensory Santa event for those with disabilities just to name a few. I want to give of myself in whatever capacity I can.

Question 2: The number one reason I decided to seek elected office is to offer voters in our community another option. If voters are OK with what they have been getting, they can vote for what they already have. If voters want to see change from the current status, they can vote for a change in who represents them. This year I graduated from Partners in Policymaking a course offered through the Governor’s Office for Developmental Disabilities. Ensuring inclusion for all residents is a huge part of who I am as a person, and what I stand for.

Question 3: The greatest concern facing our city right now is the fact that our residents are screaming for change and year after year, do not see change happen. The greatest challenge is when those sitting at the table no longer listen to the voters, when those sitting at the table say one thing and then do the opposite, when those sitting at the table are more concerned about re-election versus what is the best for our community. Our greatest concern is all the voices that are being silenced and ignored at the present moment.

Question 4: The greatest strength of Little Falls is our residents. Our residents who volunteer hours of time to help others. Our residents who make financial donations to great causes that benefit so many. Our residents who support our local businesses, our residents that buy a meal for the car behind them, turn in a found wallet at the store and the ones who have nothing to share but a smile, hug or story and are willing to share those with others. Little Falls has amazing residents that work hard to see our community prosper for generations to come.

Question 5: My biggest hope for Little Falls, is to have our community grow stronger and more focused on future growth. Whether I am the one elected or if the incumbent keeps her seat on the Council, I hope strength in our community is an outcome from that person’s term. I hope whomever wins the city council seat, takes the next four years to build our town better than what our current state is. I hope every resident elected for a seat uses their term to work as a strong team, together, actively listening to the voters.

LITTLE FALLS CITY COUNCIL

WARD 3

Richard D. Berg

Richard D. Berg

Richard D. Berg

Introduction: I am a candidate for city council position, ward 3. I moved back to Minnesota in 1979. I am a Vietnam veteran having served one tour in Chu Lai, RSV. My m.o.s. was marine engineer. A boat mechanic in the Army. After that stint I entered college and received a degree from the University of Colorado. I began work with Morrison County as a child protection worker, I began a career in mental health after receiving a Master’s degree in psychiatric rehabilitation. I retired after 30 years with Morrison County Social Services.

Question 1: I have never held an elected office, however I have been elected to serve as Union president and attended national conventions as a result. Most of my civic service has been on an appointed basis.

Question 2: The reason for my entering the council contest is two-fold. I see the ward three council people once every four years. The second reason is, these are historic times and communities are having difficult times. If I can help, I will.

Question 3: The greatest concern facing our city in my opinion is the pandemic and the issues the virus brings with it.

Question 4: The greatest strength of our city is our ‘sense of community’.

Question 5: One thing I hope to accomplish and it may be “pie in the sky,” would be city wide WiFi. Good for business as well as recruitment. A side note; It may sound funny but I would like to see the city spray for those pesky mosquitoes in the spring. I don’t think homeowners would mind sharing the cost of this service. You will not see any Berg for Council signs cluttering up the landscape or getting chewed up by mulching blades, but you will see dedication to the job if elected.

Frank Gosiak

Frank Gosiak

Frank Gosiak

Introduction: My name is Frank Gosiak. I’ve been a resident of Little Falls since 1971, but grew up in Bowlus and attended school in Royalton and Little Falls. I have degrees from Brainerd Vocational Tech in auto mechanics and St. Cloud State University in art education. I have a strong background in industrial technology, teaching, stonemasonry, welding, carpentry and mural arts. I’m passionate about bird watching, environmental studies and developing educational opportunities at Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. I love building engines and restoring old cars. I’m committed to God, my wife, children, grandchildren and the people of the community.

Question 1: I am the incumbent and have been on the Little Falls City Council for 12 years, serving the third ward. As a councilman, I am on the Library Board, the Fireman’s Relief Organization, the Planning Commission, the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the Parks and Recreation Board. I chair the Camp Ripley State Veterans Trail and am on the board of the Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge where I bring opportunities to Little Falls and the surrounding area. I also work with local arts groups, the Convention and Visitors Bureau on various city art projects and have plans to assist a group dealing with homelessness.

Question 2: I have always had a servant’s heart and love being involved in the community. My desire to serve comes from my strong belief in God. Being on the city council is a great platform to use my gifts, and my background gives me the skill to operate the city. I want to serve people on a personal level and assist them in having a safe, secure life. I want to find out what their needs are and try my hardest to assist them any way I can.

Question 3: COVID-19 and the fallout it has caused has affected the community economy and our peace of mind. Our local government aid could be cut and the community tax base has dropped because of income loss and business closures. We still need to operate the city, but the money to do so is not going to be there. Along with this, we are seeing an increase in drug use and many homes are falling into disrepair because of recent events. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and we need to find our way back to normalcy.

Question 4: The people! As I campaign, I meet so many amazing people. They deliver food, drive friends and family around town, help fix up neighbor’s houses, and the list goes on. There is still a great need in the community, but with the strong moral values this community has, we can accomplish anything. We have hard-working, concerned people who assist in spiritual and physical needs every day. This is demonstrated the most in our police and fire departments, which are strongly supported by our citizens. United together, we can overcome the concerns this city faces.

Question 5: I want to help young people in our community. The biggest complaint I hear is the lack of the things to do. We need more for children, teenagers and families, so they have a desire to stay. Many young people have turned to drugs and stealing, which is causing problems in our neighborhoods. Both the people who live in those neighborhoods, as well as those causing the disruptions, need help. I have met many hurting families who have lost a child to addiction. A lot of this could be averted if we had programs and activities to meet their needs.

Jeremy Hanfler

Jeremy Hanfler

Jeremy Hanfler

Introduction: I’m Jeremy Hanfler, a lifelong resident of the community. I’ve been married to my wife, Kris, for 19 years and together we are raising our family of three. Both my daughters, Bethany and Stephanie, have graduated high school and are on to college. My son, Joseph, is attending Lincoln Elementary as a fifth grader. Two years ago I started my own small business, Hanfler Outdoor Services. I also have over 15 years in at Central McGowan, currently working as a route salesman. During my spare time I enjoy riding my motorcycle and spending time outdoors with my family.

Question 1: I have served eight years on the Little Falls City Council, 2011-2018, serving as Council President for four years, 2015-2018. I also have served on the Little Falls Planning and Zoning Board for over 15 years, currently serving as the commission chairperson. Before, during and after my time on the council I have served on the EDA, RDFA, Park, Rec and Tree Board, Community Services, Energy and Environmental Committee and the Board of Equalization.

Question 2: After having a couple of years off to start my own small business, I would like to have the privilege to serve and represent my fellow friends and neighbors once again. So, considering my knowledge and experience along with my dedication to the city, I believe that I would make a great candidate to represent and lead our community. With that being said, feel free to call (320) 630-7630 with any questions you have.

Question 3: How to fund the city’s $14 million budget is my greatest concern. With talks from the legislation on possibly reducing and using LGA to fund state budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 expenses, this could significantly impact local taxes. Also with the unknown future of LGA, the city might have to make significant budget changes moving forward. This would result in budget cuts or tax increases. I feel we need to encourage our state legislators to continue to fully fund the LGA program.

Question 4: Little Falls has many amenities and attractions. With a multitude of beautiful parks and trails along the great Mississippi River, along with historic mansions that are open to the public that display our history draws tourists to our town. The Pine Grove Zoo and Park give our community a place to explore exotic wildlife after a day of learning in our great school system. Lindbergh State Park is a place to stay and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Question 5: I have no set agenda, so when elected I will work to represent my constituents. My plan is to work with my fellow council members and staff to manage and grow our city. I would fully support and fund all of emergency and critical service departments. I’d also work to provide affordable housing, along with further developing the residential, commercial and industrial areas. Maintaining and updating the local roads and infrastructure is also an area of my concern. With your vote between now and Nov. 3, together we can continue to make Little Falls a great place to live.

Dawn M. Meyer

Dawn M. Meyer

Dawn M. Meyer

Introduction: I’m Dawn M. Meyer and I’m running for 3rd Ward City Council member. I’m a retired special education teacher licensed as an autism specialist and a transition coordinator. I set up programs as well as prepared students with varying disabilities for the workplace in our society. Many of you would know me by sight and conversation as I am the woman who has ridden a three-wheel bike or sled pulled by two German shepherds. I’ve talked with many of you in passing, and enjoyed sharing the time spent. I see firsthand the diminishing representation the west side’s business center has received.

Question 1: I’ve never served in an elected office before, although I have much experience in the political arena as a veteran teacher of the public school system. The political culture of public education needs to be maneuvered in a delicate way. It’s a learning process where our actions determine students’ strengths and parents’ advocacy for their children’s welfare in that educational system. A school is a city within a city run by its council members elected by the people. Voters’ choices always determine the integrity and quality of the outcomes whether be a school district and/or the city itself. Vote.

Question 2: Current city council members don’t represent the needs, concerns and interests of residents in Ward 3. Under my two opponents’ leaderships, the historic Dewey-Radke landmark was demolished. We lost our hardware and grocery stores. The Royal Cafe is currently up for sale, and a vacant lot replaces the bar that burnt down. We gained a thrift store, another convenience store and a youth center. Is the west side used as a tax deduction for the east side? Only a river should divide our city. Ward 3 needs a change of venue. The venue changes with me. Dawn M. Meyer. Vote.

Question 3: The greatest concern for our city residents is the lack of transparency and accountability for decisions made by the acting mayor and city council members. It’s simple. We want to know the variables you use for decision making policies which affect those who pay your wages. The duties of the elected officials are to serve and protect all classes of people. I believe we need checks and balances in city government. To be responsible is to be forthright and truthful. Give us reasons to believe you’re acting in our best interests and not your special interests. Vote.

Question 4: The greatest strength of our city are people. They are the old(er) whose wisdom teaches the young to carry on. They are the working class heroes who support our city’s structure and give it stability. They pay our rent so we may live in a community with access to resources needed to survive. They are our educators, doctors, nurses, police, postal workers and military veterans who keep us well and safe, the business owners who sell goods and the taxpayers who pay the city council and mayor to lessen the burden needed to be city strong. Vote.

Question 5: I’m an advocate for people, not a system. You’ll see no signs displayed with my name courting you to vote for me. I know my priorities. The best option for my money is a storm-door for winter months, not signs remindful of thought, but no deed. I texted the mayor with suggestions for our city’s accountability and transparency but his lack of response chose me to run for office. We need transparency and accountability for city council decisions, and city departments’ actions for the taxpayers’ right to know. Vote for Dawn M. Meyer, not the familiar name on a sign. Vote.

MOTLEY MAYOR

Robert L. Follis

Introduction: Robert L. Follis did not return answers to the questions. Attempts were made to reach him.

Al Yoder

Al Yoder

Al Yoder

Introduction: My name is Al Yoder and I’m the current Mayor for the City of Motley. I am running for my third term. I also work full time for Morrison County Sheriff’s Office as a road deputy. I have been with Morrison County for 17 years. In my free time I enjoy hunting, fishing and spending time with my family. I look forward to serving another term as Mayor and would appreciate your vote on Nov. 3.

Question 1: I previously served on the Motley City Council from 2015 to 2016. Since then, I was elected as the Mayor for two terms. I am now seeking re-election for a third term as Mayor.

Question 2: I really enjoy working with the citizens of Motley. I have a good working relationship with the City Council members and the city employees. I strive to always be a positive role model in my role as the Mayor. I am willing to work hard even when difficult situations arise in our city.

Question 3: I think currently, keeping our city safe during this pandemic is a top priority. Secondly, it is very important to me that when working on the city’s budget, the average household income of our citizens is always taken into consideration.

Question 4: One of the greatest strengths of our city is that we are located at the junction of three main highways creating a great opportunity for our businesses to thrive.

Question 5: There is more than one thing that I would like to accomplish in my third term as the Mayor. I will always strive to continue improving our city in every possibly way while keeping the city’s income base in mind. This would include working with our local businesses to make sure that they continue to be successful. I also feel it is very important that we look into expanding services for our senior citizens. I want to continue working with the council on strategies to develop the city’s industrial park.

UPSALA CITY COUNCIL

Lana Bartells

Lana Bartells

Lana Bartells

Introduction: I am a wife, mother, grandmother and a small business owner, Hope for Haiti. I do missionary work in Haiti employing Artisans men and women so they can keep their families together. I have been a 4-H leader, Minnesota Pinto youth director, volunteered at Big Brothers Big Sisters and now helping children in Haiti. I’m a member of the Upsala Lions and have been actively involved in the Heritage Days Committee. I wasn’t born or raised in Upsala, we moved here seven years ago. We chose Upsala to be our home. Being a part of what goes on in this community is important to me.

Question 1: I am currently a member of the Upsala City Council running for re-election.

Question 2: I am running for a seat on the city council to work towards continuing to grow our cities economic base, encouraging businesses to choose Upsala, improving upon our recreational spaces and maintaining a welcoming community for all.

Question 3: Trying to maintain a balanced budget and to keep life affordable in Upsala. I know being a small community we still have many expenditures that larger communities have and less capital. I will work toward decisions that will be most beneficial to our community.

Question 4: Community engagement. There’s a lot of focus on community activities that build camaraderie, a mutual trust and friendship among individuals. An outsider moving into Upsala it didn’t take long to realize the strength I saw in the downtown businesses, churches, school, first response team and our fire department, it’s the individuals of the community that built that strength.

Question 5: When elected I want to continue to grow Upsala’s economic base which will also attract new families to our area. Upsala has a lot to offer a downtown filled with long standing businesses, a close proximity to larger towns for entertainment, surrounded by beautiful lakes and most of all a secure place to grow a family. I want people to see what I see a small town with a big heart.

Mitch Lange

Introduction: Upsala is where I grew up, graduating from Upsala High School in 2014. I attended Saint John’s University graduating with a degree in global business leadership in 2017. After graduation, I moved back to Upsala to work for my parents at Lange’s. I currently live within the city limits with my wife, Brooke and our little guy, Liam. Upsala is a friendly community for residents and families to call home. We take pride in caring for our homes, businesses, and school. I’ve witnessed this throughout my childhood and career at Lange’s. My hope is to continue to build up the community with our small town pride. I’m excited to serve on behalf of the town of Upsala.

Seth Strassburg

Introduction: No response was received from Seth Strassburg. Attempts to reach him were in vain.

Dennis Westrich

Introduction: Dennis Westrich was contacted and he said he chose not to answer the questions.

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