There will be five candidates on the Tuesday, Aug. 14 primary election ballot for the Ward 2 seat on the Coon Rapids City Council.
This is an open position because Ward 2 Councilmember Melissa Larson is not seeking re-election. The candidates are Ken Boelter, Sonia Evans, Ron Manning, Tracy Trull and Jeramy Wyttenback.
The top two vote-getters in the primary election will move on to the Nov. 6 election. Questions were sent to all five candidates. Trull said in an e-mail that he was no longer actively seeking the seat. Following are the answers in alphabetical order:
Boelter: Retired Coon Rapids Fire Captain Ken Boelter has been a resident of Coon Rapids for the last 16 years. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp. He continued his service in the Air Force Reserve before retiring in 2006. He was hired by Coon Rapids in 1995 and was promoted to captain in 2005. Ken’s career was cut short after sustaining a career-ending injury while at a house fire.
He completed a year of physical and occupational therapy at Sister Kenny Institute and received the 2011 Sister Kenny Inspiration Award for his determination during his recovery. Ken was instrumental in planning and organizing the Sept. 11 10-year anniversary ceremony. He is a member of the Trollhaugen Ski Patrol and active is at his children’s schools.
Ken and his wife Lisa, a teacher in the Anoka Hennepin School District, will be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary next year. They have two boys, one at Northdale Middle School and one at Sand Creek Elementary School.
Evans: I am a longtime resident of Coon Rapids with conservative values. I am a taxpayer who is concerned with increasing property taxes and spending by our city. Employed in the mortgage industry for over 27 years, now a vice president, I am aware of the effects the housing market has had on our economy. Although regulation is necessary, too much regulation can be crippling to individuals and businesses.
I am the proud mother of twin boys who are both U.S. Marines, both having recently completed tours of duty in the Gulf of Aden and Afghanistan. When they decided to serve their country, I thought that it was about time I did as well. I decided to take an active part in local government.
Manning: I am married and have three children and a new grandchild. Our family has lived in Coon Rapids for 35 years. Our children attended school in District 11 and we attend church at Faith Lutheran Church. I have a bachelor of science and master’s degree in school guidance counseling from St. Cloud State University and have done extensive post-graduate work at St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota.
I have coached CRAA basketball, baseball and soccer. I have also served on many committees, including ECSU, District 11 Education Advisory, Minnesota State High School League, TIES, Highway 10 corridor and Schwans Super Rink. I am a former member of the school board (10 years) and city council (eight years).
Wyttenback: I was born in 1974, and raised in the northern suburbs. I met my spouse in 1994. I have overcome many obstacles, one of which was being diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) seven months after I was born. This set me on a path of goal-setting and accomplishing those goals.
I received my high school diploma in 1997 at Coon Rapids High School. I joined Courage Center Sports in Golden Valley and participated in wheelchair basketball and archery. After a few years, I was able to attend college where I gravitated toward leadership and public speaking courses. I received a certificate of completion of the Minnesota Partners in Policymaking Program and started attending Anoka Toastmasters.
2. What qualities would you bring to the office of city council member?
Boelter: Being an employee of the city for 16 years I have a good understanding of how it functions. I have seen good leadership, as well as missed opportunities. I have seen what works and what it takes to keep the city running efficiently.
Having a military background, I like the “keep it simple” method. I have been in leadership positions during some of the city’s most hectic times. I have a long history of service to the community and have a desire to continue to make Coon Rapids a great place to live and raise a family.
Evans: The qualities that I would bring to the council are family values and proven leadership skills. I raised my sons to work hard and stand up for what they believe. I understand the need for a safe and secure environment to raise children. That is why I chose Coon Rapids as my home and I want to keep it that way.
As a business executive I am responsible for ensuring that day-to-day activities are completed in the most cost effective way. By looking for ways to streamlines processes and save money we can continue to look for ways to revitalize the city without harming the citizens and businesses.
Manning: I believe that one of my best qualities is the willingness to keep an open mind, yet be able to make a decision. I will diligently study each issue and listen to everyone as I go through the process of deciding which way to vote. I will always be straight forward with people and will not tell people what they want to hear just to get my vote. My decisions will be based on what I believe is best for Coon Rapids. Another quality is the ability to keep a respectful attitude toward the other council members even if we disagree on an issue. A cordial council is more effective at getting things done.
I am retired from a rewarding career in guidance counseling which allows time to attend to the numerous issues with which the city has to deal.
Wyttenback: I will be a strong advocate for the people of Ward 2, helping them by making sure the rights of individuals and their voices are heard and addressed. Living with a disability has afforded me a unique perspective on the issues affecting our community. I won an award for leadership in 2003 for my involvement in creating a wheelchair basketball game in college and successfully completed the Citizens Academy, an eight-week course explaining both how the council and the city works.
3. What are the main issues of your campaign?
Boelter: Redevelopment of the city is key to keeping the city vibrant, but it cannot happen at the cost of essential services. Streets must be maintained and property and people protected. Our parks are already two years behind on scheduled renovations. I will work to ensure that tax money is spent for the purpose it was intended for and not redirected to personal projects.
Coon Rapids has a bright future. Ideas I would like to explore include a snowboarding park equipped with a towrope placed on one of the sliding hills. I would like to see the area near ARCC developed with a college atmosphere in mind, driving that area’s economy and promoting self-growth, as well as apartments geared toward college students. ARCC is a benefit to our city; we should continue to work with it. There would still be room to build a recreational building once funding is found.
Evans: Fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraint when spending taxpayers’ money – the city’s money is our money. Transparency and accountability – I have no hidden agendas.
With yet another property tax increase upon us, it’s time to look for ways to save money rather than spend it. We need to address the abundance of red tape that restricts us from making simple improvements on our own property and what it is doing to the businesses.
Manning: Keeping strong, well-staffed police and fire departments is a necessity. As the housing market improves, we must renew efforts to develop Coon Rapids Boulevard. We must demand quality in every phase of development.
Taxes must remain as low as possible by attracting industry, working with the state on tax formulas and being financially prudent. Continuing the good job the city has done connecting trails and upgrading parks is a priority.
I do support the building of a community center, but only if it can be built without a significant increase in taxes. All other methods of financing the center should be explored such as partnerships and/or corporate sponsors (possibly naming rights).
Wyttenback: My platform is based on public transportation and the trail system. Public transportation has fallen behind the standards needed for a modern thriving area.
Our trails and pathways: This city has invested a lot of money in our wonderful system of bike and recreation trails. But the trail system is falling apart due to lack of maintenance and commitment. Maintaining that which we have already invested in just makes sense.
In World War II both disabled veterans and other Americans with disabilities helped in maintaining the home front and played a integral part in the success of the war. Their contributions have been forgotten. I will make it one of my priorities to correct this injustice by creating a memorial to honor the memory of those who served on the home front. I intend to put this memorial in one of the local county parks for everyone to see.