Letter: Community’s future is in your hands

Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My name is Gary Hagen, and I am running for the 4th Ward City Council seat. I am running for this council seat as an option to an incumbent who has held the office for 12 years, three terms and was running unopposed.   I believe in having options in life, and that is what I decided to be for the taxpayers of the 4th Ward and this city. A councilman is asked to make decisions that will affect the whole community, not only his ward, and in the next few years we will have many important decisions to make in determining the direction and future of this city.

We will be looking at health care and trying to find additional providers for the services we have lost in Mayo’s transitioning, many of them out of our community. We will be looking at the infrastructure, specifically the Bridge Avenue and East Main Street corridors, where questions on the exact redesign will possibly include widths, intersections (roundabouts, stop lights, stop signs, turning lanes) and flooding as part of the discussion. We will be looking at housing and how to provide affordable and market rate housing. We need to look at our deteriorating housing stock and figure out how to help homeowners to make necessary repairs, possibly using property tax incentives. If homes come down, we lose that tax base until someone rebuilds on that property, and that may never happen. We need to speed up the process of eliminating homes in which a property becomes unsafe. Owners not making significant progress with appropriate repairs could cause whole neighborhoods to fall into disrepair. We owe it to the neighbors in these neighborhoods who have maintained their properties and do not deserve to face a reduction in their property’s value. We will certainly look at jobs and how to retain the ones we have and create new ones through helping our local businesses expand and trying to bring new business to the area. We have to be realistic and understand to bring big business to our area, we have to have the employees they will need and the housing necessary to house them. We need to expand our high school work apprenticeship programs to try and retain our young people and increase our workforce.

I have been involved and questioned many city issues over the years, not because I opposed to an issue or project, but because I wanted more precise information and felt we needed more options.   I have authored many letters to the editor about various topics to try and get the answers we all deserve to hear as taxpayers. We need to know what the future costs of a project will be to the taxpayer and provide honest follow-up on these projects.

As a councilman, we have to be responsive and responsible to the people who elect us. Our constituents deserve respect, honesty and integrity. Elections have consequences, so please vote Nov. 6. Our community’s future is in your hands.

Gary Hagen

Albert Lea