Six candidates are seeking two positions on the Spring Grove City Council. Incumbents Steve Kemp and Rachel Storlie face challengers Nancy Nelson, Rachel Olerud, Dave Peterson and Roger Taylor. They all responded to the questionnaire from the Spring Grove Herald. Below are their responses listed in alphabetical order. Each response was limited to 150 words.



Roger Taylor, age 51 - Agronomy Division Manager for Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company with offices in Spring Grove, Caledonia, Houston and Rushford



1.) Please tell us about yourself and why you are running for office?

I have recently relocated to Spring Grove because of a job change. I am currently working as the Agronomy Division Manager for Farmers Cooperative of Rushford, Houston, Spring Grove, and Caledonia. I am divorced and have three grown children. I am running for a seat on the city council because I am concerned about the direction our current city council is taking. There are many things that will need to be decided in the near future, and if this city does not change its course, I am afraid that the anti-business climate will force more and more businesses to close or move out of town. We already have one of the lowest per-capita incomes of all towns in our area and cannot afford to raise taxes on our businesses or our residents.



2.) The Main Street project has seen its share of controversy. Do you agree with the current council's proposal of improvements? Tell readers why or why not and what changes you would make.

I agree that we need to resurface Main Street; the other amenities seem to be excessive and more than the city can afford. Self-watering flower pots and irrigated flower beds are probably necessary in Arizona, but we live in Minnesota. Last I checked, it gets cold here, and waterlines will freeze if not drained and maintained every year. Nice benches/ fences may look great in a computer video, but it also snows here, and we will have to pay someone for the extra time it will take to clean up around all of these amenities. Some people seem to think we need to tear up the water and sewer lines with this project, are they leaking? Are they under capacity now? Is the city growing so fast that we need to increase this in the near future? Let's fix what needs fixing. And not fix what isn't broken.



3.) How do you feel the city has done the last year on transparency, and is there any room for improvement?

It seems that the city could do a bit better on transparency than it has in the past. There needs to be more input from the community on major projects instead of a few people on a committee making major decisions, or passing the decisions to engineers or other who do not have to live with the result. When there is a meeting asking for public input, there should be ample time for people to be heard and voice their concerns. The meeting place should also be large enough with ample seating to accommodate anyone who wishes to come.



4.) Do you feel that the city needs to look at reducing its current budget, and if so, what areas would you look at cutting?

The city of Spring Grove will need to look at every area of the budget very hard in the next year. With the possibility of Caledonia building a new swimming pool, this area of the budget needs to be examined and look for ways to control costs. This next year will also be the time to re-negotiate the union contracts for all city employees. How much can the city afford, and how will it be paid for? We will need to look at our structure and take another look at what positions are required to run the city of Spring Grove. Do we need a city administrator or should these duties revert back to the council?



5.) Tell us why you feel you are the best candidate to serve on the council.

Some people have said that being new in town, I shouldn't be on city council. I would challenge that and say that it is not all bad to be new in the area, I can come into the job with no baggage, no promises or commitments to anything or anyone. I will be able to look at each item brought before the council on its own merits and make an objective decision. I have over 30 years of successful business experience working with budgets and expense control along with supervisory experience. I also have experience working with city council from the time I lived in Iowa in a small town very similar in size to Spring Grove. Because of these things, I feel I am uniquely qualified to be elected to Spring Grove City Council.



6.) If elected, what are the top three issues you want to see addressed in the next four years?

The first priority will be to see what extra expenses can be cut out of the Main Street project. I know that many of the decisions are set and changing the plans may be impossible, but there may be areas that we can pull out of the bidding process this spring and save some expense.

The next priority will be dealing with the union labor contracts for city employees. These will be up for renewal and will need to be looked at considering the impact on the overall city budget and how we can get costs under control without asking for any more tax increases.

The third area that needs to be addressed right away is staffing. I believe the City of Spring Grove needs to return to the control to the mayor and city council.