2011-10-27 / Front Page

Mike Isenberg

Mike IsenbergMike Isenberg1. PLEASE PROVIDE A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF YOURSELF AND EXPLAIN WHY YOU ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE CITY COUNCIL SEAT.

Originally from a small southwestern Minnesota town, my wife, Libby and I moved to the Brainerd area in 1999 and to Staples in 2000. I am currently selfemployed as a custom cabinet maker, and have two children, Devon and Rachael, who attend Staples Elementary.

In the past several years, I have noticed a definite divide between the population, and our city government. In order to grow as a city, the council, mayor and adminis- tration need to work with and for it’s citizens, not in spite of them. My hope is that fresh opinions in city government can help bridge the gap between the administration and the populace.

2. THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL IS DEALING WITH LOSS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AID AND OTHER STATE AID. IF STATE AID CONTINUES TO DECREASE, WHAT SHOULD THE COUNCIL DO? PLEASE BE SPECIFIC AS TO WHAT AREAS YOU WOULD TARGET FOR CUTS, HOW YOU WOULD RAISE REVENUES OR HOW TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM.

I believe that for the foreseeable future, we will have to come to grips with not having the LGA and state aid that we were receiving. The council and mayor will be tasked with passing a budget that will work both for the administration and the people. Tough decisions and cuts will have to be made, and the focus must be that the cuts affect the general population’s day to day lives as little as possible. Cutting vital services and positions would be counteractive to the idea of growing our city, as well as a drastic increase in taxation would be. I do believe that there are acceptable places for consolidation of duties, and responsibilities to free up city revenue, without eliminating essential positions. The wrong thing to do would be to look at cutting positions in our police department, fire department, or city maintenance. Cutting in these areas would be a detriment to our city and directly affect our quality of life, safety and ability to function as a community.

As far as raising revenue, I am not sure that the people of Staples will sit idly by and accept a double digit tax increase. In short, the administration spent its way into this problem; they will need to tighten their belt to dig their way out.

3. WHAT

SPECIFIC STRATEGIES SHOULD THE COUNCIL USE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES OF POVERTY, UNEMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN STAPLES? WHAT SEGMENTS OF THE COMMUNITY SHOULD BE ADDRESSED FIRST?

There is no answer for the poverty level and unemployment in our community without addressing the blatant lack of economic development. In the 11 years that I have lived here, other than the Ernie’s move, all the major building projects have been capital improvement projects by the city, for the city. It is almost as if the administration has a “Field of Dreams” mentality, but I am not sure that if we build it they will come. In fact we lost several hundred people since the last census, not exactly a ringing endorsement for the way we have been handling our city affairs.

We need to encourage people to keep their money in town. It seems that we make it far too easy for people to justify going elsewhere to buy their goods and services, rather than giving them a reason to keep the money in our community, where it will recirculate several times. We need to strive to keep the little retail business we have left, and not only encourage, but also precipitate the development of new ‘local based’ retail outlets. It does us no good to continually bring in businesses that send their profits to a corporative headquarters based in another, presumably larger community.

4. WHAT ISSUES WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK ON AS A COUNCIL MEMBER, AND WHY?

I have no specific agenda to immediately address on the council. My only goal will be to provide a different perspective on many issues, and hopefully to speak for, rather than to, the people of the community.

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