vote 2020

The Tuesday, Nov. 3, General Election will include the mayor and three City Council seats in Section I and Wards 3 and 4 in Crystal.

For mayor, the candidates are incumbent Jim Adams and Steve Adams.

In Section I, the candidates are incumbent Nancy LaRoche and Jim Martin.

In Ward 3, the candidates are incumbent John Budziszewski and Tony Sumnicht.

In Ward 4, the candidates are David Cummings and Eric Wilhelm.

The candidates were asked to provide biographical information and answer two questions. Their answers were edited for length and clarity. Martin did not respond to the candidate profile questionnaire from the Sun Post.

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Incumbent Mayor Jim Adams

Jim Adams

Address: 5916 29th Pl. N.

Education: Accounting, economics, business administration

Occupation: Mayor; 89-bed addiction recovery residence operator; owner/operator of remodeling company

Community involvement: Mayor, volunteer at local food shelf and church; Task Force for Humanity; Corridor Management Committee; Blue Line Now Collation; Regional Council of Mayors; Minnesota Association of Sober Homes; and retired firefighter

Contact information: 612-805-5101

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

When the Crystal City Council cut the street construction and maintenance assessments program, we cut a 25-year program of costing approximately $60 million (adjusted to current value) in capital revenue.

It is the tax cut no one is talking about. We need to fund or replace this revenue for future street and infrastructure needs. We have made some progress by including some of that funding in our utility charges. We have also had some increases in our levy that have been directed to our capital revenue line items.

This is the most important financial goal over the next 10 to 15 years, because if we fail, we will be forced to use assessments again, which puts a larger burden on those who can least afford it. I am against assessments. I believe they are like a hidden tax and believe they should be on the tax levy like all other expenses.

Removing assessments makes our city finances easier to understand and more transparent for all.

Do you support the proposal to build a new police facility and would you support payment through bonding or through the city’s “pay as you go” structure?

Yes! Build the police facility. Our current station is out-of-date, has a challenging workflow, very cramped for space and is becoming more dysfunctional each year.

We are in the planning and design stages and I am confident we will be approving this project before the end of the year. “Pay as you go” all the way! Many of you know Crystal is committed to becoming a debt-free city.

We are able to build this with cash, no debt, no bank loans, no credit card.

This means we will use every dollar of tax revenue for the project and send none of our citizens’ hard-earned money to pay any bank interest.

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Steve Adams

Steve Adams

Address: 4608 Maryland Ave. N.

Education: BS in business administration

Occupation: Automotive body repair shop owner and manager

Community involvement: Chairperson of the City of Crystal Community Outreach Task Force; planning and design group for the nationally-known City of Crystal Flag; chairperson of the City of Crystal Employee Review Board; planner of the city’s Crystal Ball event

Contact information: 612-209-6182, or email adams.steven@comcast.net

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

We need a comprehensive bonding plan for planned infrastructure improvements to rebuild the city’s emergency and general fund and keep property taxes from rising at the rates that they have been. We also need to review water and sewer utility rates for a more affordable plan for our residents.

Do you support the proposal to build a new police facility and would you support payment through bonding or through the city’s “pay as you go” structure?

Support of a more adequate police facility is necessary to allow the police department to continue to meet the needs of our city as it has outgrown the current facility, and this needs to be done through bonding, as the expense of such projects would increase at a higher rate than the cost of bonding. Bonding for large city improvements is the financially responsible approach to the city’s budget.

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Nancy LaRoche

Nancy LaRoche

Address: 6511 34th Ave. N.

Education: AA, graphic Design; Radio TV/Broadcasting

Occupation: Medical clinic administration

Community involvement: Crystal Charter Commission member since 2015; Crystal Frolics volunteer since 2013; Parks/Recreation Commission member 2012-17; current recreation event volunteer; Bowling for Rocco/Leo; and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon fundraiser volunteer.

Contact information: 612-399-6791, or visit nancyforcrystal.com

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

A reserve for capital projects (roads, water/sewer, buildings, etc.) is in most need of funding. Crystal is an aging city with aging infrastructure needing repair or replacement. The cost in today’s dollars is estimated near $60 million for all replacements over the coming years.

To pay for these programs, the city is funding via incremental increases in the overall levy and utility rates. We switched to a two-year budget along with long-term financial planning, which is reviewed annually to adjust if needed.

In five years, our reserves will be more in balance with expected maintenance/repair needs around Crystal. 

Planning with responsible funding allows the city to review and reallocate as needed to meet individual project needs. This approach keeps Crystal financially secure to pay for future repair/replacement needs as they come and not burden residents with large assessments (often with added long-term interest/fees).

Do you support the proposal to build a new police facility and would you support payment through bonding or through the city’s “pay as you go” structure?

The current police facility is aging, technologically outdated and extremely short on space. I support the new project, which would be added on existing land next to the current building. The new structure design is more accessible to residents and more functional for staff.

Funding our capital reserves continually and incrementally over time allows the city to pay during planning and construction. By not bonding, residents pay only the actual costs for the building while avoiding millions of dollars of extra interest payments. Bonding can be a useful tool, but not needed for this project.

Responsible, transparent budgets are appreciated by residents I’ve talked with — and the majority support Crystal Police Department’s community-based policing with an improved facility to serve us better.

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John Budziszewski

John Budziszewski

Address: 5308 47th Ave. N.

Education: College graduate

Occupation: Commercial banking /newspaper delivery

Community involvement: Human Rights Commission 2008-10; Section II council member 2011-14; Ward 3 council member 2017-20

Contact information: Visit VoteJohnBudziszewski.com

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

The two issues the current council is working on are the proposed public safety building and the Race and Equity Commission. The current police station has out-served its usefulness and needs to be replaced to effectively serve the people.

The possibility of a new commission comes at a time when we have experienced a tragic day with the death of George Floyd. In my lifetime, I have experienced tragic days over and over and we need to do something.

Ryan Adams of Crystal Citizens 4 Change has brought to us a proposal for a new Race and Equity Commission. The Human Rights Commission, removed by the mayor and council in 2015, formally provided this oversight.

The new commission will not need physical but emotional capital to get it up and running, I support it, but there are members of the council that are unsure of the value that a new Race and Equity Commission will provide.

Do you support the proposal to build a new police facility and would you support payment through bonding or through the city’s “pay as you go” structure?

Yes, I support the new public safety building. I want to be clear that the city is required by state law to have a balanced budget. So whether you live in Crystal, New Hope, or Willmar, your local government is required by law to operate with a balanced budget.

The city uses fund accounting (government and nonprofit organizations) as opposed to accrual accounting (which is used in for-profit businesses). You may see bonding described as “putting it on a credit card” and “pay as you go” as “living paycheck to paycheck” or maybe a better analogy would be borrowing from your retirement.

In both cases, the funds must be paid back, whether to the bondholder or the internal enterprise fund. Both have similar costs, the advantage of bonding is that you keep the cash. If the original financing plan had been followed the station would have been built.

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Tony Sumnicht

Tony Sumnicht

Address: 6621 Corvallis Ave. N.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in food science, UW-River Falls

Occupation: Food safety and quality assurance manager

Community involvement: Current member of the Crystal Parks and Recreation Commission

Contact information: tonyforcrystal.com

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

I believe we need to allocate more funding for community development and parks and recreation. The value of great outdoor spaces has never been more apparent. However, many of our smaller neighborhood parks are aging and need improvements. Investing in our neighborhoods can help Crystal distinguish itself from surrounding cities.

One of my priorities is to promote meaningful development in the area surrounding Becker Park and Target. I have been out meeting the unique and diverse people who call Crystal home. I believe we deserve a commercial area that is more than just a maze of strip malls. It should reflect the uniqueness and diversity of our community. We should strive for a community-focused town center filled with local shops, restaurants and businesses to serve as the social and economic heart of the city.

I would like to see the city redirect revenues generated from fines and tickets into the city’s capital projects fund. I believe the city should never plan on generating revenue from fines and tickets. It should fully fund its general operations through its tax levy. Redirecting this money away from the general fund into long-term projects can also help reduce any incentive to generate revenue from fines and tickets.

Do you support the proposal to build a new police facility and would you support payment through bonding or through the city’s “pay as you go” structure?

Buildings age and eventually their design and function become out of date. Our current police facility has reached that point where it needs to be replaced. I support paying for the facility through “pay as you go” or “out of pocket.”

Like most people, I pay interest on debt. I’m sure if you could live without debt you would. I know I would. Thankfully, a city doesn’t need to live like us. When we plan for the future we can avoid wasteful interest payments on debt saving taxpayers money in the long run.

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David Cummings

David Cummings

Address: 5702 Zane Ave. N.

Education: BAA, social studies, University of Minnesota Duluth

Occupation: Special education teacher with Osseo Area Schools

Community involvement: Vice-Chairperson of the Crystal Environmental Quality Commission; Early Career Fellowship Committee - Education Minnesota Osseo

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

The Crystal City Council needs to address systemic racism and strive for racial equity by first looking at the needs of all residents by establishing a race and equity commission. There has been a significant grassroots push in Crystal to address racial disparities and increase equity after the tragic death of George Floyd.

Now is the time to capitalize on this energy and grassroots support and make it happen for all Crystal residents. This will benefit everyone in Crystal because as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.”

Do you support the proposal to build a new police facility and would you support payment through bonding or through the city’s “pay as you go” structure?

I fully support the proposal to build a new public safety building. I believe the city should pay for it through bonding. Bonding to me is like a mortgage for your house. You pay it over time. “Pay as you go” is like taking money from your own rainy day fund, your savings, your retirement to put together enough money to pay for a big project.

But you will need to pay yourself back otherwise you’ll be shorting your retirement or your savings. Crystal is currently doing the same with their finances and has to pay back city funds that were raided to pay for the public safety building.

This also creates more work for city employees and the city council who have to manage the city budget more frequently when you “pay as you go.”

Crystal should already have a new public safety building along with its public works building. But because they did “pay as you go,” needed projects have been delayed. Our police department has had to wait much longer than they should have for a new building.

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Eric Wilhelm

Eric Wilhelm

Address: 5441 Scott Ave. N.

Education: Attended college in northern Virginia.

Occupation: Operations manager of a local company at Karin’s Services.

Community involvement: Crystal Little League coach and board member for eight years; also coached for Cooper traveling basketball.

Contact information: Eric.c.wilhelm@gmail.com

What specific city programs do you feel need more funding and how would you reallocate funds to make it possible to enhance those programs?

I am running to help be a conduit between the city and the community of Ward 4. I feel that sometimes the voice of the community can get lost in the future of Crystal. I have gotten to see how outside influence can control long-term goals and miss what’s important to the people who live here.

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