New council members focused on job creation, communicationPublished 11:05am Thursday, January 10, 2013
Pushing for economic development, maintaining an open line of communication between the city and community and fighting to reduce property taxes are some of the top priorities for the new Fergus Falls City Council members.
Two of the three new faces were sworn in to the Fergus Falls City Council during Monday night’s annual meeting, with one other entering his new term.
Anthony Hicks, Ben Schierer and Tim Rundquist are the newly elected council members with Jim Fish entering his latest term on the council. Due to a personal incident, Rundquist was unable to attend the swearing in Monday evening.
Hicks, elected to represent Ward Four, said he wanted to do more than just show up to meetings, which he said attended all of them in 2012.
“I used to come here, but then I wanted to be here officially,” Hicks said.
Hicks said one of the reasons he ran is to create a better communication between the council and the community.
“The people I talked to felt like they had no input in what was going on with city council,” Hicks said.
Hicks also said he ran to give something back to the community of Fergus Falls.
“We live here and talk about how things should be, so I decided to stand up and do something about it,” Hicks said.
Also elected this time around was someone who was not unfamiliar to how the city council operates. Schierer, who had been on the council before, decided to run after a brief hiatus.
Elected to Ward One, Schierer said he enjoyed his time on the council before and decided to return to the position.
“I believe in the future of this city,” Schierer said. “A brighter future is a better future.”
One of the issues that concerns Schierer is economic development.
“The council has to continue working on creating economic development,” Schierer said. “There are people out there who need jobs.”
Schierer also said an important issue is for the city to work with the Legislature and to get some more help from Local Government Aid (LGA).
“We also have to keep property tax low,” Schierer said. “LGA allows rural communities to maintain a realistic property tax and also provide the services people need.”
From the 2012 election, one familiar face kept his council seat. Jim Fish ran in a tight four person race but said he was able to attain 47 percent of the vote.
“If it was a two-person race, it may have been a lot closer,” Fish said. “I think the second place person got something like 25 to 27 percent of the vote.”
Fish said this election was tough due to issues with the Community Arena.
“There was a lot of animosity toward building the arena,” Fish said. “Some people did not like the way we went about doing that.”
Fish said in regard to council, it’s about understanding what the majority wants.
“There were some loud nay-sayers about it (arena),” Fish said. “But you have to go with the majority in the community.”
Despite some of the more heated rhetoric in politics, Fish said he enjoys what he does and was happy to be re-elected.
“I thought the last time was going to be my last run,” Fish said with a laugh. “I might say the same thing four years from now.”