Ken Boelter and Ron Manning are vying for the Ward 2 seat on the Coon Rapids City Council caused by the decision of Councilmember Melissa Larson not to seek re-election.
Boelter: Retired Coon Rapids fire captain, Ken Boelter, has been a resident of Coon Rapids for the last 16 years. He began his public service career at the age of 17, enlisting in the United States Marine Corp. He continued his service in the Air Force Reserve before retiring in 2006.
Ken was hired by the city of Coon Rapids in 1995 and was promoted to captain in 2005. His career was cut short after sustaining a career ending injury while at a house fire.
Ken completed a year’s worth of physical and occupational therapy at Sister Kenny Institute. While completing therapy, Ken 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, held last year. He is a member of the Trollhaugen Ski Patrol and is active 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 a student at Northdale Middle School and one a student at Sand Creek Elementary School.
Manning: Married with three children, 34-year resident of Coon Rapids, bachelor of science and master’s degrees from St. Cloud State University, extensive post-graduate work from the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University, retired Minneapolis School District guidance counselor, current small business owner.
Served on the following committee: ECSU, District 11 Community Education, Minnesota State High School League, Highway 10 Corridor, Schwan’s Super Rink. Volunteer work at church and coached CRAA basketball, soccer and baseball.
2. Do think the council’s proposed level of spending and 2013 property tax levy is about right, too little or too high? Please give your reasons and indicate what you would cut if you think spending is too high and what you would spend more on if you think it is too low?
Boelter: The city currently has 13 fewer employees than we had 10 years ago. The average homeowner’s city taxes are expected to decrease this year.
After reviewing the budget, but not being intricately involved in the development of it, I can only trust that the current council has spent appropriately.
It has been my experience that city staff has worked hard in the past at prioritizing needs and spending wisely. I will. however. continue to scrutinize the city’s expenses during my term, ensuring those past practices will continue.
Manning: The budget process is a long and daunting task.
When it is brought to the council, there are workshops held and a great amount of refining done before the budget is finalized. This is the council’s opportunity to get clarification and ask questions.
To make a judgment on this year’s budget without the benefit of those workshops would be difficult and speculative.
There are several funds in the budget. The general fund, which is about half the budget, went up about $700,000. The overall expenditures appear to have gone down. Most of the reduction came from the debt service fund.
The resurfacing of streets was increased from two and a half miles to five miles. There is a fine line between keeping taxes low, but not allowing things to deteriorate.
From what I have seen reading through the budget, it appears the council held the cost down in most of the funds. At this point, without having the benefit of workshops, it would seem that the budget is reasonable.
3. What steps should the council take to stimulate development/redevelopment on Coon Rapids Boulevard?
Boelter: There are several areas on the boulevard that are slotted for redevelopment, each has its own unique situation and importance.
With regards to the Campus Port, I would be interested in supporting Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s effort to become a four-year program. Then zone the area the city has acquired east of the college for college commercial/residential.
With careful development we could create an environment that would be attractive for college students. With a large student body population living in that area, it would create a target rich environment for businesses to prosper while meeting the needs of students.
Ideally creating a “main street” environment with pizza parlors, pubs and coffee shops. This would also create a nightlife atmosphere with the restaurants, pubs and bands that Coon Rapids currently does not have.
I believe the Medical Port is moving along nicely with the addition to Mercy Hospital and I would support a skyway between the two buildings. The additional development of medical specialists in the area is encouraging.
As for the area near the old city hall, this area would be ideal for the development of senior living and businesses that would meet the needs of our seniors.
Manning: When I was last on the council, Rottlund Homes was ready to start a development on Coon Rapids Boulevard that would be mostly residential, but with a mixture of commercial. It pulled out when it became evident that the housing market was going to crash.
I am hoping that the worst is over and we can begin sending out requests for development in the near future. The boulevard, in most cases, is ready for development which should be a huge incentive for developers.
Once again, the council will have to take a proactive role in jump-starting the interest from residential and commercial developers. Reaching out through advertising, which outlines and benefits of locating new businesses in Coon Rapids, would be helpful. Possibly offering incentives to quality businesses would be helpful.
Coon Rapids has many assets and a willing work force ready to fill jobs. New development will provide an infusion of tax revenue, but we must be careful that the developments are quality and something for which we can all be proud.