Election Forum a job well done

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Thank you, and congratulations, to the Sleepy Eye Young Professionals on the great City Council Election Forum they presented Monday night. It was very well organized, the questions were thoughtful, and the answers (not under the YPs control) gave the voters information they need to decide their vote.

I voted by mail earlier this month and I will say there was nothing I heard that would have changed my vote — that’s good news, no regrets for me.

In my opinion, for the most part, the candidates used their “answering” time well. There are certainly different ideas among them on many issues, but it seemed to me they mostly provided their own ideas, without cutting down their opponents.

However, there were two issues brought up that I felt were meant to be contentious.

Rajeana Wick and Scott Krzmarzick both said the city cut CPR training from the Ambulance Service budget and no one rebutted their statements. That was news to me, so I asked some questions.

First I asked both Scott and Rajeana, via text message, why they said that. I asked City Manager Bob Elston if CPR training had been cut from the city budget. I also asked Ambulance Coordinator (and CPR instructor) Shari Hittesdorf.

Rajeana answered that the statement is on the Ambulance Service website, and also that she heard it from someone. Scott hasn’t answered me yet. Shari said, “No comment.”

Bob answered: “There have been no cuts to the ambulance department’s budget. In fact, the ambulance budget has increased $36,000 from last year. $27,000 of that increase is additional employee benefits for our ambulance department.

“The CPR training has not been cut by the city. Our ambulance coordinator can offer CPR classes either during her normal hours or if she can’t fit them in her normal hours, she can, at her option, offer them privately, use the City facility and equipment at no cost, and be paid privately for that offered service.”

So, in conclusion, I don’t understand.

The other thing I thought was presented in a contentious manner were comments by Rajeana and Chuck Forster about the Chamber of Commerce receiving city funds. These comments were clearly meant to put down their opponent Christina Andres.

Both Chuck and Rajeana made comments on this more than once and Chuck went so far as to accuse Christina that if she held a position on the City Council she could convince the others to give the Chamber more money. (Not only that, Chuck also accused that she would favor her husband, the Police Chief, with decisions.)

I thought Christina answered with restraint. She said the Chamber does receive a contribution from the EDA, and has for many years (true—when I worked for the Chamber in the 1990s, the EDA contributed a monthly amount). She said the contribution is requested by the Chamber Board and approved by the EDA and could change as they see fit. She explained the EDA supports the effort of the Chamber to assist and support the businesses in Sleepy Eye.

Christina also said she understands she may need to abstain from some votes if there is some conflict of interest. (This is standard practice and other council members do this as needed.)

So, in conclusion, not a problem. Sleepy Eye benefits from the joint efforts of the EDA and Chamber to promote the city and support the businesses.

I’ll end on a high note. All the candidates wrapped up their comments with appreciation to the YPs for the opportunity and urged the citizens to vote.

I agree with that. Vote by mail, vote early at the Courthouse, or vote at the polling place on Nov. 3. Your vote counts!