Candidates Discuss Issues at Grand Forum

As has been the case in other years, the NDDC supported the Chamber’s recent, annual, traditional candidate forums.  However, to provide additional support to the Chamber in their time of transition, this year we played a bigger role in the Council and Mayor Forum…buying the doughnuts and coffee and securing the space (thanks to Chuck Pryor of the Grand Event Center)…as well as discussing possible questions for the candidates.

All of the candidates were invited, including (Mayor) Dana Graham and Rhonda Pownell, (At-Large) Betsey Buckheit and David Ludescher, (2nd Ward) Frank Balster and David DeLong, and (3rd Ward) Erica Zweifel and Jon Denison.  David DeLong was unable to attend and Jon Denison did not show up.  That left Dana, Rhonda, Betsey, David, Frank, David, and Erica to discuss the issues.

First, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the NDDC, I would like to thank all of the candidates for giving their time and sharing their thoughts.  Running and serving as an elected official requires great commitment and sacrifice.  We are fortunate that these people are willing to give so much to our community.

Second, potential questions were discussed, informally and sequentially, by board and staff of the Chamber and NDDC.  Our volunteer moderator, Steve Engler, made the final selections.  With all six candidates who participated (Balster, Buckheit, Graham, Ludescher, Pownell, and Zweifel) getting an opportunity to answer each question (if they had something to add), Steve chose to limit it to five questions.

The questions were (based on Steve’s and my memory) about the following topics: 1) What are your three top priorities for Northfield?, 2) What is going on with the Police/Fire Station(s) and Department(s), 3) Talk about the “Business Park” and is St. Olaf selling land for a business park?, 4) How can we have more community input into City decisions/processes? 5) Talk about the Land Development Code and what we should do about it?

Given the process of their creation, and the fact that they were limited to five, I thought the questions were fairly decent, based on my own interests and thoughts about the community.  However, it would be great to hear from downtown stakeholders what they think are the five most important issues for Northfield.

Photo courtesy of Griff Wigley.