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Council veterans square off [UPDATED]

Published 9:59am Monday, October 22, 2012 Updated 12:04pm Monday, October 22, 2012

The Ward One candidate forum featured two experienced council members, Eric Shelstad and Ben Schierer.

Incumbent Shelstad faced off against 2004 to 2008 Ward Four council member Schierer in Friday’s debate at City Hall.

Shelstad is married with two children. He owns and operates an insurance business and he has been on the city council for four years.

Schierer is married with five children and is the vice president of government relations for Communicating for Agriculture.

When asked about top priorities that need to be addressed in the city, Schierer said public safety is most important with maintaining current infrastructure close behind.

It’s easy to defer maintenance on streets, but eventually that turns into replacing streets, which the city doesn’t have the budget to afford, Schierer said.

Schierer emphasized the importance of the public library a few times throughout the forum.

“I think you can tell a lot about a community by the strength of its public library,” he said.

Shelstad said streets and infrastructure need to be the number one priority.

“I’ll go further by saying streets, streets, streets,” he said.

In addition to a long term program that outlines street work, Shelstad said an infrastructure plan needs to be incorporated so recently repaired streets don’t get torn up for sewer improvements.

Shelstad also emphasized a need for economic development.

Candidates were asked to chose one of three options for the Regional Treatment Center: Save the Kirkbride tower, save the entire complex or total demolition.

Schierer said he sees the RTC as an economic development opportunity. The similar building in Wilmar was redeveloped and utilized to facilitate 35 businesses and 365 jobs, and he thinks something similar could be done in Fergus Falls.

“We need to want to do it,” he said. “We can’t expect it to be done on its own.”

Shelstad said while he would like to see the whole structure preserved and used for economic development, some parts may need to be demolished.

“I can’t support inaction or mothballing,” he said.

Ward One represents the southeast quadrant of Fergus Falls, and residents in this ward will have the opportunity to vote at the fire hall Nov. 6.

  • Peter Haugen

    I only ask that people go back a few years in time and remember that Eric Shelstad Voted Yes for the Hockey Arena. And with his Yes vote came a big slap in the face. When he decided to Push through the Arena, it told us as taxpaying citizens that it didn’t matter if we wanted something different, it didn’t matter if we wanted a voice, or referendum, because it was going to get pushed through. I’m not saying a hockey arena wasn’t good for this city, But the process of how it came was wrong and we need to fix it. We need people who care about the citizens they represent, and we need to remove the Port Authority so a Runaway council doesn’t force any further tax liabilities onto us. The only way to do this is to make sure we have elected officials that will represent us.

    Do you want a voice ? Do you want to be able to participate in decisions that will affect your tax liability and future tax contributions. Eric Shelstad doesn’t care what you want, he doesn’t want you to have a voice and neither did six other council members who voted to push the Arena through, and push a tax burden through. Remember that this got pushed through before they could go to the capital and ask for a sales tax, The council was going to raise our Property Taxes and they didn’t want to hear anything about what we thought.

    I think many people forget what a council member is. A direct representative of your part of town (WARD) This council member is supposed to represent you, the citizens who elect him or her. It doesn’t matter if he or she wants a Arena for their son if the majority of the voters in their ward don’t want it, they are supposed to represent their wards view. But on so many occasions I see that people only are out there to represent themselves or a special interest group. With the amount of Registered signatures that were gotten to try to stop the process of what they were doing, clearly shows that voters wanted to be a part of that decision, they wanted to have a referendum and a voice when it came to increasing their taxes, and 7 out of 8 councilmembers decided they didn’t want to hear that, and they didn’t want that voice to be heard and they voted to push it through.

    I can’t tell you how to vote, all I can tell you is that if you want to have a voice, then send a clear message. Get out and Vote, This is one time that the council can not take that away from you as they did the with the referendum request. No council, No Judge, no Lawyer can take this vote away from you come novemeber. Lets come out in force. Time to elect people who care about what we as taxpayers want.

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