Crystal Races Take Shape

June 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

By Andrew Richter

Well the Crystal races this year include some interesting issues, new candidates, and old faces. The mayor’s race will be a rematch with hopefully the same result;

Incumbent mayor Jim Adams and former mayor ReNae Bowman have both filed for that office, and three pairs of candidates are set to run for the council seats representing Section I and Wards 3 and 4.

Adams said he’s running for re-election in part because of a long-term strategy for a “debt-free Crystal” that will take a few years and may have to wait until the city’s street reconstruction project is finished. That initiative came to the fore when the city elected to pay for its new public works building with cash on hand, rather than borrowing money for the project.

Critics of that decision include Bowman and Ward 4 candidate Jeff Munson, who believe it unnecessarily depleted the city’s resources and resulted in higher taxes.

This is the biggest lie of all! Higher taxes have everything to do with the operating budget and have nothing to do with bonding a building. And bonding IS a tax! It’s not free! Why should we pay $20 million for a $15 million building?

“Bonds are not evil,” Bowman, who declined to speak directly with the Sun Post, wrote on her website. “I will preserve our reserve accounts so that we have the money we need to keep Crystal healthy.”

Declined to speak directly? Why? Too busy?

Adams bested Bowman in a close, contentious 2012 mayoral election.

Bowman’s website says this year’s election is about “choosing a financial philosophy that you believe will preserve financial health and assure budget sustainability over time.”

That means nothing.

Munson, a current Crystal Charter Commission member and real estate agent who said he’s lived in the city about 15 years, echoed those sentiments. He said that bonding could have been a better route, especially because he thinks the cash-only decision meant higher taxes to pay for the city’s ongoing mill and overlay project.

Again, it isn’t free. You’re paying for the mill and overlay project regardless. If it is in bonds, the cost will be higher.

“They seem to be wanting to raise taxes to cover other expenditures,” Munson said of the current council. He said he hopes to keep an eye on city spending in order to lure new residents there. Munson is set to run against incumbent Julie Deshler in Ward 4.

I don’t get it. The strategy of re-fighting funding of a government building doesn’t seem like a winner to me. Take it from me, I tried to go door to door and explain the Comprehensive Annual Financial report and it went over people’s heads. Residents will want to know what you plan to DO not what you would’ve done.

It should be noted that Munson seems to be a big fan of Bowman. On facebook he likes pretty much everything she posts. It isn’t clear if he is Bowman’s lackey or not, but if he stands any chance of unseating the popular Julie Deshler, he should distance himself from the former mayor.

Deshler said her biggest priority is a “facelift” for the community, which she hopes to accomplish by bringing new businesses into the area, particularly the area around Becker Park and Bass Lake Road.

“I enjoy working with the community, the residents, and I want to continue to strive to make Crystal better for all of us,” Deshler said, adding that she hopes to give the city a more “upscale look” by, perhaps, installing new facades on buildings.

I don’t see Ward 4 as much of a contest.

In Ward 3, former council member John Budziszewski will challenge incumbent Casey Peak.

Good ol’ Johnny B!

“I like working with the public. I like working with issues that involve the city,” said Budziszewski. “It’s just a good fit.”

Does that include me?

He added that he wants to work with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) to quiet freight train’s whistles as the trains move through town, particularly near the intersection of West Broadway and Douglas Drive.

Isn’t the council already doing that?

He also hopes to add more signs to existing bicycle paths and promote “healthy practices” for honeybees by putting bee and butterfly-friendly gardens in city parks. Both Budziszewski and Peak are hobbyist beekeepers.

Peak said his current project is the nascent community outreach task force he’s spearheading with fellow council member Elizabeth Dahl.

“It would be nice to use the project to reach out to new members [of the community] and introduce them to old members of our community,” Peak said of the task force. He said he also hopes to work on the city’s newest iteration of its 40 year plan and potentially redesign Becker Park, which would be adjacent to the planned Blue Line Extension light rail line. “I believe it’s in our best interest to start looking at it as a central park,” Peak said.

Sounds better than bike signs.

Section I encompasses the city’s first and second wards, and current council member Laura Libby did not file for re-election. Newcomers Nancy LaRoche and Therese Kiser have both been involved in city and school district initiatives for years and hope to make the leap to elected office.

Kiser is a 23-year Crystal resident who was involved with the “Yes 281” campaign for a pair of school district referendums and School Boardmember Patsy Green’s campaign in 2014 but has no direct government experience of her own. Kiser said she would like to see the city work more closely with neighboring cities, perhaps via cooperative arrangements like the West Metro Fire-Rescue district, which is a combined fire department shared by New Hope and Crystal.

“The better relationships, the better for us,” Kiser said.

Kiser seems to have the usual boring DFL connections. A search of her name yielded nothing but four traffic citations since 2012.

LaRoche, a member of the city’s charter and parks and recreation committees and an organizer for the city’s annual Crystal Frolics summer festival, said a council seat seems like a “natural progression.”

She said she sees the potential light rail line along County Road 81 as, “a tremendous opportunity for change and to make [Becker Park] a real crown jewel for Crystal.”

She added that she hopes to get more people of “different backgrounds” involved in the city.

“The next chapter for the city of Crystal is critical for building momentum,” LaRoche said.

Election day is Nov. 8.

You know what do folks; keep moving Crystal forward not backward!



Entry filed under: City Government, Crystal, Mayor. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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