A field of five candidates will vie in the Aug. 12 primary election to be one of two on the general election ballot to represent Ward 3 in the city of Coon Rapids. Running in the primary are: Ethan Campbell, Wade Demmer, Scott Nellis, Alan Williams and Ethan Yang. The seat is currently held by Paul Johnson, who is not running for re-election.
ABC Newspapers has asked the candidates to answer a couple of questions in advance of the primary so voters can get to know then better. Ethan Campbell did not respond to our request.
WADE DEMMER: My name is Wade Demmer. I am a 36-year-old systems engineer in the medical device field. I have a computer engineering degree from Iowa State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota. My wife, Stacee, and I moved to Coon Rapids nearly 13 years ago. We bought my grandparents’ house, which has been in the family since 1953. Our two children, Lachlan and Ruby, attend Adams Elementary School.
SCOTT NELLIS: I’ll be 58 by the time of the August primary. I’m divorced with two grown, married children and one grandchild. I’ve lived in Coon Rapids since 1985 and am a 1974 honors graduate of Coon Rapids High School. For over 38 years, I’ve been employed by UPS, first as a part-time loader/sorter, later as a package car delivery driver and now as a semi truck driver in the Minneapolis, Eagan and Maple Grove locations.
ALAN WILLIAMS: Born in Liverpool, England, Dec. 24, 1954. Educated at Litherland High School and attended Riversdale Technical College earning City and Guilds for electronics engineering.
Alan worked for Carnival Cruise Lines Miami where he met his wife, Denise. He became a U.S. citizen in 1995. Alan and Denise have lived in Coon Rapids for 31 years and have two adult children.
Alan owns an automation business and is well-versed with today’s technologies
ETHAN YANG: Currently 41 years old. I have been married to my wife, Madelyn Yang, for more than 20 years. We have four children: Rachel, Samuel, Isaiah and Allison. I graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in business administration and Thomas M. Cooley Law School with a J.D. I work as an attorney and volunteer my time with my church and nonprofit organizations.
2. What qualities will you bring to the council if elected?
DEMMER: As a systems engineer, I work collaboratively with a wide variety of groups. I find the best ideas from each group and combine them in ways that make them better. I balance the needs and skills of the groups so we can work together to turn ideas into real things. On the Coon Rapids City Council, I will collaborate with the people and groups of Coon Rapids. I will find ideas from many sources and combine them in ways that improve our city. My approachable nature and willingness to listen give citizens a true representative on city council.
NELLIS: If elected, I’ll bring more openness and honesty to the city council. I’ll be there to answer the tough questions and will listen to all opinions on a subject. Lately, it seems that our current city council has lost touch with the residents. Some on the council won’t answer emails or shirk at answering residents’ hard questions. For the past two years, I’ve been attending and observing some council meetings and reading all the agendas and meeting results with great interest. In those two years, the city has passed some new ordinances and modified others, mostly to benefit the city and make their jobs easier, but at the expense of the citizens. If elected, I’d like to make this city more livable with fewer restrictions on many things now tightly regulated and would also hold the line or lower permit fees, property taxes, fines and spending. I’d also take a very hard look at all of the new equipment that the city has been buying over the last two years and check to see if we could get more life out of the current equipment in use before buying new.
WILLIAMS: Alan has attended around 90 percent of city meetings in the last eight years, giving constructive input to council. He has performed volunteer classes for the city every few months for several years, interfacing with police and landlords to assure good housing stock in our city. Alan wants input regarding future developments in Coon Rapids and will provide look-ahead analysis for current decisions. Always on the lookout for issues that affect residents.
YANG: My education, legal experience and community involvement have given me the right perspective on the issues that matter most to the citizens of Coon Rapids. My education and legal experience have trained me to be a critical thinker and a problem solver. As a first generation immigrant to this country, I have faced many challenges. I have learned to overcome these challenges by being determined and being persistent. As a member of the council, I will bring determination and persistence so that changes will be made for the betterment of the community. I have volunteered my time, energy and resources with churches and nonprofit organizations. I feel that a public servant must have a heart of service and a heart for the community. Oftentimes, candidates enter into a race to make changes for personal gain. I will look out for the best interest of the citizens of Coon Rapids and not for personal gain.
3. What is the main emphasis of your campaign?
DEMMER: My grandma lived in her house in Coon Rapids for 50 years. When taking care of the house became too much for her, she was able to move into senior housing that allowed her to stay in Coon Rapids. I support increasing senior housing because people should be allowed to age in their community.
As young families learn of the educational opportunities, great trails and parks, and affordable living of Coon Rapids, they will continue to move here. The challenge for Coon Rapids over the next decade will be getting those families to stay as their income increases. We need jobs and amenities that convince families to remain invested in our community as they grow.
While the number of full-time jobs in Coon Rapids has grown, I believe that more can be done to attract good jobs to Coon Rapids. We need an economic development commission working to promote Coon Rapids to potential employers. This effort should begin with interviewing companies that have moved into neighboring communities in order to understand what Coon Rapids has to do
to bring in the next employer. We also need to make appropriate investments in infrastructure to create attractive areas for businesses.
NELLIS: The main emphasis of my campaign is more openness and freedoms. I’d like to try to get more input from the residents on various issues by holding more informal “town hall” type meetings in different parts of the city, like our parks or the Riverview shopping area. Perhaps getting a city info “app” for smart phones so that residents could more easily get involved with city doings. I’d like to review the entire city code of ordinances and perhaps eliminate or lessen some of the restrictions in various parts of the code. A resident shouldn’t have to seek out variances or pay permit fees for every little thing that they want to do with their own private property. The city, in my opinion, seeks to unify everything and everyone to conform to some sort of grand “sameness.” I think that individual freedoms should have more say in the way that this city is run.
WILLIAMS: Our council is directed by the city staff. We need council members who can assist staff and articulate ideas for continuous
We need people in office who can perform analytical efforts to determine the nature of the staff recommendations. Alan will study the suggestions with a view to the future and fairness of the code.
Our city has sections of code that are unfair, applied inconsistently and can be improved. Alan will be on the lookout for code issues and push for resolving those issues.
Open mic is suppressed from TV apparently due to litigation risk. Litigation is not a legitimate reason for suppression of open mic, since minutes are documented and all discussion is available to the public via paper. Open mic needs to be broadcast on cable TV because each citizen pays for the broadcast right of way on their cable bill and each citizen pays taxes that support the TV equipment at CTN.
This is discrimination for our senior citizens and disabled people who can’t travel to the city center or watch open mic on TV.
Alan ran for council in 2010; he gained almost half of the votes.
YANG: 1. Public safety and infrastructure: Although Coon Rapids is a safe place to live, we should continue to be diligent and continue to support the men and women of the police and fire departments by keeping the proper number of staff and providing them with the most up-to-date tools and resources to perform their duties. With the harsh Minnesota winters, many of our streets need to be maintained. Maintaining our streets not only makes the neighborhood look nicer, but also opens up the flow of traffic and in turn saves time on commute and saves expenses on car repair.
2. Business and economic development: The city of Coon Rapids still has a lot of space for development. With collaboration from the private sector, Coon Rapids Boulevard can be turned into an economically thriving corridor. Bringing in businesses gives the citizens of Coon Rapids shopping choices, brings in revenues for the city and creates jobs and opportunities.
3. Quality of Life: The citizens of Coon Rapids come from all walks of life. They seek a place that they can call their own and seek amenities that fit their lifestyle. Because of the aging population of Coon Rapids, the city should develop more senior housing. Coon Rapids is one of the largest suburbs in the metropolitan area that does not have a place for families and children to gather for events. It’s time that Coon Rapids build a community center so that its citizens can attend events promoting arts, culture, social, education and physical well being.