City council candidates list key issues
NEW ULM — Voters still have a race left for the New Ulm City Council Nov. 3 with Andrea Boettger and Larry Mack facing off for the council member at-large seat.
Ward 1 and 3 incumbents David Christian and Les Schultz are running unopposed.
All four have varying views on what the most important issues are in New Ulm.
Schultz said he is looking forward to being a part of a new team driving the City of New Ulm forward.
With two new city councilors coming in 2021, Schultz said the New Ulm City Council will have some training to do to get them up to speed quickly to address a variety of issues.
“The most important issues right now are retaining retail and industry,” said Schultz. “COVID-19 has been incredibly hard and caused some places to close. We need to stay on top of this and provide incentives, grants, and loans to help as much as possible.”
Schultz said New Ulm’s Reinvest In New Ulm (RENU) projects will finish up in 2021.
“How fortunate our city will be with all the new community amenities,” said Schultz. “We will have a state of the art water park, indoor playgroup, children’s gymnastics center, amphitheater, baseball park. The list goes on and on.”
Schultz said with the new additions also comes some costs.
“Our RENU money paid for the brick and mortar, but taxpayers will have to pay to operate these facilities, so 2022 budgeting will need to be studied carefully,” said Schultz. “Expanding our tax base is critical in these uncertain times.”
He said New Ulm needs to continue to advocate for new retail and industry to come to town to increase the tax base.
“Our city has a lot going for it. With strong city partners, New Ulm will continue to grow and prosper. I am excited for our future,” said Schultz.
Schultz began his New Ulm City Council tenure as a write-in candidates in 2009.
“I read and study issues and ask some tough questions when necessary,” Schultz said. “I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and take on projects that need extra attention. New Ulm is strong and run by staff who work hard every day to make our city great.”
Schultz thanked all the constituents of Ward 3 for supporting his term as councilor.
“I appreciate your vote November 3,” he concluded.
Boettger said the most most important New Ulm issues are lack of daycare options and lack of affordable housing.
“I’ve spoken with families with infants who are on childcare waiting lists,” said Boettger. “A family who has had to have one provider leave the work force due to inability to find childcare, and a family with two parents working out of town, but one child was cared for in New Ulm and the other in Nicollet. We are slowly making progress, but we can do better.”
Boettger said manufacturers, schools and healthcare providers are creating jobs, but there is a lack of starter homes for residents and families.
“It’s great to see so much development occurring,” said Boettger. “We are beginning to address these issues, but we need to make sure we are providing a balanced inventory of new, turnkey homes and incentives to new homeowners that want to give our existing homes new life.”
Boettger said addressing downtown vacancies is an issue on the minds of many people.
“Offering entrepreneurial workshops that share about the city’s incentive programs and resources is one way to work toward filling storefronts,” said Boettger. “Businesses in other communities may be interested in opening a second location. Let’s do our research, connect with these businesses and get them thinking about New Ulm.”
Boettger said as someone who runs a business in town, she’s aware of the challenges businesses are facing, especially in the trying times of COVID.
“Through attending council meetings and speaking directly with councilors, I have a firm understanding of the role and responsibilities of being councilor-at-large,” said Boettger. “I will work with diligence and integrity for the citizens and business owners of New Ulm. Having two children in the New Ulm school system, I have a pulse on what is happening in our schools and what challenges our educators and staff have had to endure.”
Boettger said most importantly, she cares about New Ulm and believes she has the better business and finance background needed to best serve the city.
“My experience as a business leader, parent, and community volunteer is what makes me the stronger candidate for city council president,” said Boettger.
Mack said retaining businesses by helping them survive the COVID-19 pandemic and grow is a key issue now.
“I think it’s going to be a continuous struggle. We’ve done grants and loans,” Mack said. “We need to educate business owners of public health changes that happen weekly and daily too. We need to encourage business owners to think outside the box.”
Mack said it’s important to find more daycare providers and grow the tax base to keep things stable and balanced.
“If we can continue to keep housing growing, we should be able to weather the storm,” said Mack. “Some of our downtown buildings are aging. Property owners need to be on top of their game with maintenance.”
Mack feels he’s a good City Council President candidate with his experience on the Heritage Preservation Commission, planning and zoning and other commissions.
“I feel I’ve earned the respect of lots of citizens who encouraged me to run,” said Mack. “I feel I’m a down to earth, working class man who wants New Ulm to continue to be the city of charm and tradition while adapting to the changing COVID situation.”
“At the end of the day, I’m here doing the work, not observing the work,” Mack said. “A life-long New Ulm resident, I’m not going away. I take a lot of pride trying to be resourceful and getting back to people if they have questions. I’ll try to help people. Voters have a choice of someone with experience and someone who is new. People know how I voted in the past and how I try to find creative ways to do things.”
Ward 1 incumbent and life-long resident Dave Christian said he’d like to keep the New Ulm city budget tax levy nearly flat for a year or two to maintain services but not increase anything.
“I don’t think COVID is going to get better in the near future,” said Christian. “I like to talk to a lot of people. It’s amazing. Everyone has an opinion.”
Christian said he voted to cancel the state amateur baseball tournament in New Ulm “because a lot of constituents told me to vote against it.”
“I wear a mask everywhere I got. I’ll follow the rules until they tell us different,” he said.
“I know the wants and needs of New Ulm. I’ve been on the fire department for 21 years, 12 years on the planning commission and have worked with park and recreation, the street department and public works,” said Christian. “I’ve learned a lot with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the downtown action team on ways to revitalize New Ulm. Heritage preservation is important.”
Christian said he knows how government works and that you can’t always do what you want.
“I tell people why we have to do what we do, about all the hoops we jump through and most people understand,” he said. “A lot of people know me. COVID has slowed the daycare issue but I think it (daycare) should come back to the top in the future.”
Fritz Busch can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.