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Glenwood City council seats contested; candidates profiled

GLENWOOD CITY – Four individuals are vying for the three open seats on the Glenwood City Council in next Tuesday’s spring general election.

All four candidates on the April 2 ballot have previous city council experience.

Ben DeGross, former member of the common council, is challenging incumbents Crystal Booth, Terrance “Porky” Klinger, and Steve Lee for one of the three, two-year positions.

The Tribune Press Reporter sent a questionnaire to each candidate. A brief background on each candidate is followed by their responses to each question.

Steve Lee

Occupation: Senior Electrical Construction and Maintenance Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology.

Background: My wife’s name is Julie and she works for the Glenwood City School District. Both Julie and I grew up in Glenwood City. Our parents came to Glenwood City and were successful business leaders of the community. I owned Lee’s Electric for many years but then was offered a position teaching at Dunwoody College of Technology. I have been at Dunwoody for almost 12 years. I have been on the City council serving the area for several years. I am presently a member of the Glenwood City Fire and Ambulance services.

Crystal Booth

Occupation: Substitute teacher, owner of small online kitchen information site.

Background: I’ve lived in the Glenwood City community most of my life, growing up and working on a small dairy farm 4 miles out of town. I have been in the banking, investment, health care, child care, and cabinet industry, the last having co-owned and operated a small cabinet shop for 13 years with my husband Steve. Steve and I have lived in Glenwood since 2000, and have young two boys, Brendan and Steven, and I have a step-son, Curtis, who is currently at Ft. Bragg, serving in the Army. Curtis is also helping my husband become a grandfather soon, with a grandchild due in November. In 2008, having enjoyed operating my in-home daycare, I decided to go back to school, and now have an elementary ed. degree. Currently, I substitute teach and have a small online info business. I was elected to the City Council for the first time in April of 2011. Previously, I volunteered five years as Rustic Lore Days co-chairman with my husband Steve, and was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, serving as secretary, several years prior, during my time at the local bank.

Terrance Klinger

Occupation: Automotive Technician.

Background: I have been married to Jean for 38 years. I have three sons: Joshua, Paul and Eric. I served on the City Council in 1988 and 1989, served as mayor from 1990-2000, and then again on the city council from 2003 to present.

Ben DeGross

Occupation: Equipment technician and school bus driver for Glenwood City School District.

Background: I have lived in Glenwood City for 32 years and grew up in Wilson, WI. I live in Glenwood City with my wife Linda. I was on the city council from 1999 to 2011.

1. What would you like the City to do with the Old City Hall Building at the corner of Pine and second streets?

Lee: 1. The building on the corner of Pine and Second Street will no longer meets the needs of our City and remodeling seems to be out of the question. There are many things to think about when it comes to dealing with the City Hall building. There are a couple of options that need to be reviewed with the old building. First would be to put the building up for sale and use the funds that we would receive from the sale to invest in a new building or the purchase of another building. The other option would be to take the old building down and put a new City Hall in the same location or use that location for a new city parking lot and use the old city parking lot for the new location for City Hall. The location once cleared could also be a location for a new Library building or the lots may be able to be sold for residential housing. The bottom line is that we need to do something with our present situation. The building we are in is being rented now and has some good points but there are also some challenges with the building.

Booth: Time has slumped it into some disrepair, and the location of City Hall now is excellent. With the old building, rather than have it become an eyesore, I would like to see the City demolish the building, then either put the lot up for sale, or have it paved for a parking lot if circumstances warrant. Of course, I am open to other suggestions that the lot could be used for, possibly a new business site or home for someone.

Klinger: Try to sell it. If there are no buyers, tear it down and sell the lot or possibly turn it into parking.

DeGross: I think the city should just clean it out and put it up for sale.

2. Would you support using city funds to help a business or professional person get started in the community and why?

DeGross: No, I don’t feel the city is a financial institution. That’s what the banks are for.

Klinger: We have in the past, as long as it is within the laws we need to support existing businesses as well as new ones.

Booth: The City should certainly encourage new businesses and professionals to come to town, and if funds are available for their use, possibly through TID or TIF funds, that is what those funds should be used for. The City can be and should be a good partner to any legitimate business or professional interested in locating in Glenwood City. The City has acted in good faith with Glenhaven’s new building project, for example. The City, however, cannot chose winners and losers, nor should any government entity, in my view. Having been a business owner myself, supply and demand are key to a business’s success, but if the City can prudently and with good conscience be supportive of a business or professional, they should do so within the confines of City and governmental structure. I am glad to be part of a council that, in my view, today provides a fairness and balance in this regard. I hope that continues.

Lee: I am all for supporting and giving help to existing and potential new businesses or professional persons to get started in Glenwood City. With that said we cannot just hand money over and expect nothing in return. There needs to be a return on the Cities investment so there is not any extra burden on tax payers. Jobs are important to our economy and with each new potential employer another job for someone in our community could be created.

3. If the city receives a petition to annex the 400 or so acres of the proposed frac sand mine, would you support this measure?

Booth: This is a simple question, the answer to which is complex. Several questions need to be answered first. Does the party involved want the property annexed to circumvent regulations of St. Croix County that are imposed on frac mines? If so, my vote is a no. Can the City, truly, implement the regulations that St. Croix County has, without expense to the people of the City? If not, again, I would vote no. The City also has a certain responsibility for resident health. I tend to believe that the vigorous regulations that St. Croix County has in place, although not fool-proof, are a step in the right direction to follow. We need to ensure people are as safe as possible, with environmental concerns also at play. Whether the mine will truly be health wise and environmentally safe can certainly, and is, argued either way. The mine also has about a 27 year profit window. What will happen after that? Experience has often proven that mining towns are not financially stable, or financially secure for many reasons. It will certainly provide more jobs for the community, hopefully more revenue, but at what cost? Because of my doubts about the health and environmental safety of the mine, as things are currently, my vote for such annexation would most likely be a no, if for no other reason than for the voices of those opposed to be heard by the council and community. If an annexation were to pass, I would push to have a part of any revenues help to lower property taxes.

DeGross: No, I feel the petition would be coming to the city for the wrong reasons.

Klinger: As a council person I feel it’s our responsibility to see if it would be what is best for the people of Glenwood City. Then I would vote after I get the information that would satisfy me.

Lee: It is not a simple yes or no answer to annex the property into the City limits. There are many questions that need to be looked into and answered before any determination can be made. I feel as though the sand mine will probably be put in whether the city annexes the property or not. The issues that are involved with the sand mine are health and environmental. Can this be done safely for all concerned? The benefits to the City could be very large. For starters there is the financial boost the City will see. Directly, there would be the taxes collected from the acreage. Then there are the added fees that will amount to somewhere around $250,000 dollars a year. This extra money for the City would be well received because of the need to do something about City Hall, the library, parks, and the wastewater treatment facility. These are just a few places that the money could be used. We are constantly receiving less and less from the state funding and for us to maintain the present services we offer is becoming more difficult each year. If we look at the financial side only, it would make sense for the City to do the annexation if petitioned to do so. But, can the City do the right thing when it comes to the health concerns, environmental concerns and other issues that come with the sand mine? I am very concerned about these issues but I am not an expert. I would like to have more control on the requirements to insure that if the frac sand mine is developed that it is done as safe and environmentally friendly as possible. As of now the county is doing all of the work and we are not being informed about the details and issues that they are requiring the organization to adhere too. It is my understanding that if the city annexes, the County, DNR, and the State would still be available to help with any concerns or questions that we may have. The City needs to be a larger part of this to protect our interests now and for the future.