Bloomington Primary Mayoral Candidates Forum Enlightens

0912_WVdebate.jpgThe Bloomington League of Women Voters hosted a Primary Candidates Forum July 10.(Gene Winstead, mayor for the last 20 years, is retiring.) The 5 mayoral candidates and their web sites (click on links) or facebook pages (navigate to these from FB):

- Ryan Kulka is our SD49 Republicans recommended candidate, as reported in our July 1 News. Ryan is an entrepreneur, business owner and life-long Bloomington resident who has experience managing budgets and people.
- Tim Busse, has been on the City Council for 4 terms. He believes there is much work left do, but defended the previous mayor’s leadership and previous council activities on the $250M water park, the new community center and the river bottom trail paving.
- Sharon Christensen, whose background is in health services and union representation, feels she can bring needed change to the city. (FB) Sharon Christensen For Bloomington Mayor
- Rainer Einsmann is a German immigrant who served in the Army, taught high school and worked in employment services. He has two main concerns: lake invasive species and closing the MOA on Sunday to benefit small businesses. (No web site or FB page as of date of debate)
- Dan Niziolek has been involved with city government in Minneapolis and St Paul for 27 years and feels mid-course corrections are needed to solve crime, traffic, jobs, lack of citizens voice and the water park problems. Supports more community engagement by city government. (FB) Vote Dan For Mayor

Based on the audience questions selected by the League of Women Voters, the issues addressed in the debate were the $250M Mall of America water park, the cost and location of the new community center, paving of the Minnesota River bottom trail, city government transparency, affordable housing, equity, ranked choice voting.

The full video of the debate is now available.  CLICK HERE to view.

Here is a summary of each candidate’s statement when asked what their top 3 priorities would be if elected:
- Affordable living -- a combination of jobs, transportation, and housing—not just minimum wage or targeting housing developers.
- Bring transparency to city government through coalitions and committees.
- Increased financial responsibility.

- Improved finances
- Improved services
- Sense of neighborhoods
- Affordable housing
- Better transportation
- Increased financial responsibility
- Sunday store closing
- Protect lakes from invasive species
- Community engagement
- Safety
- Living wage jobs

It was interesting  that during discussions all of the candidates vowed to provide more transparency.

Ryan Kulka was the only candidate who exhibited a combination of private enterprise experience, sense of financial responsibility, and showed an understanding of the need to provide citizens with high-paying skills employers need—not just mandate a minimum wage for current workers. He also has a vision for “affordable living” that seems more logical than the progressives “we need a minimum wage” mantra.