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Bulletin letters to the editor for Oct. 17: City parks referendum; campaign sign theft; candidate endorsements

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Be fair and wait on city recreation upgrades

Is it fair? Is it fair in our troubled economic situation to look for the "wants" in our community? I think the renewed use of the old Cottage Grove community club or swimming pool is great. The desire to build more ball parks might be needed, as long as they don't add any more parking spaces off the Hamlet entrance. Would a centrally located swimming pool in Cottage Grove be a great community asset? I'm hoping it would be centrally located. Yes, but is it fair right now for me to vote yes, when others are struggling to pay bills and keep their head afloat? Is this the right time?

Next year, District 833 might also need to ask taxpayers to help continue to fund the education our students have been receiving, renewing a referendum at the very least, I suspect. To me, this is a "need" in our community and not a "want." Will our voting for the city of Cottage Grove recreation referendum cause others to struggle in our community? I'm thinking I'd rather wait until next year and hear more details of the Cottage Grove recreation plan, and see what District 833 needs. Can we wait? Right now, I think that would be fair.

Natalie Seim

Cottage Grove

Sieben makes herself available, gets things done

Every spring, we spend a day in St. Paul. We drive our classic car, a 1950 Mercury, and park on the Capitol lawn as part of the Minnesota Street Rod Association's Day on the Hill. Each year, we spend time visiting with our local senator, Katie Sieben. Sieben makes herself available to us and is always responsive. She carefully listens to our personal concerns as well as our car hobby concerns. We appreciate the time and attention she gives to us. We imagine she does the same for all constituents who visit the Capitol.

What we appreciate about Sieben is that she is one of us. She grew up here and knows so many people in our community. She and her husband, Josh, are often at community events with their children or volunteering at something to help a local cause. She is a work horse and not a show horse. She gets things done by working with others and we need more of that in government.

We encourage you to vote for Katie Sieben. Please send her back to St. Paul to represent us. She does it well.

Jerry and Sandy Felde

Cottage Grove

Lehrke firefighter depiction deceptive

I am a professional firefighter. I serve in two different departments within the Twin Cities. It is my honor to serve proudly in the fire service with people I respect greatly and trust with my life. That is why I am writing today to express my intense disappointment in Derrick Lehrke, who seems to think it is OK to place huge political billboards in our city depicting him as a firefighter, which he is most certainly not.

As an individual who has dedicated his life to public safety, and trained countless hours to earn my badge, I find it offensive for Lehrke to lie to the voting public so blatantly by attempting to impersonate a firefighter. That sort of intentionally deceptive behavior is a slap in the face of public safety professionals everywhere, especially those who have given their very lives in the mission of selfless service to others. It is also an insult to the voting public who Lehrke is trying to fool into believing he is something he's not for nothing more than potential political gain. The billboards say, "It's not about left or right, it's about right and wrong." I am here to tell you that pretending to be a firefighter in order to pander for votes is absolutely wrong.

It is my sincere hope that the people of Cottage Grove see through the veil of deception Lehrke has been trying to pull over our eyes since he decided to run for state office. It appears he will say or do anything he thinks might gain him a few votes, even when it's nowhere close to the truth. That is not the sort of person I could trust with my life in a burning building, and certainly not the sort of person I can support at the ballot box.

Derek Peterson

Cottage Grove

Peterson is a firefighter and paramedic for Cottage Grove and a full-time St. Paul firefighter

Lehrke's only special interests are the citizens

Referring to Elijah Harter's letter ("Lehrke a right-wing political opportunist," Oct. 10), we need to remember who Harter is: Dan Schoen's website designer. Harter attacked Derrick Lehrke in July, when Lehrke called the splash pad an oversized sprinkler system, which is what many Cottage Grove citizens have also said. It's the same old rhetoric: attack the person rather than the issues.

During the debate on Oct. 2, Schoen agreed with Lehrke on his points at least three times. They disagree on voter ID and spending money. The reality is Lehrke has the experience that Schoen does not. I, too, have watched him during his time on the City Council and he is the only one who constantly puts the citizens first. If you haven't taken the time to talk with him and find out where he is coming from, you are missing information that might be very beneficial to you.

I would encourage people who read this to sit down with a cup of coffee and watch both of the debates from Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, either on the local cable station or South Washington County Telecommunications Commission website. Decide for yourself, on the issues and what the candidates believe. It is well worth it to become an informed voter. Don't be swayed by articles which are only written to get your dander up.

Lehrke says it is not about right or left, it is about right or wrong. The only special interest Lehrke is beholden to is the citizens of District 54A, and he will do a great job as our next Minnesota representative.

Beverly Moreland

Cottage Grove

Stealing campaign signs is a crime

It's upsetting to learn that many campaign signs were removed in the early morning hours (after 1:30 a.m.) of Oct. 12 on Hemingway Avenue, just down the hill from 80th Street and approximately one-half mile from the police station. This might be young people just out to have a good time and not thinking about consequences. But our candidates have spent lots of precious time and money and have the freedom to place them on lawns according to the city laws.

As a parent, let me encourage you to remind your children about good and decent behavior and the laws of Minnesota regarding the theft of campaign signs. Please, parents, inform your children that stealing -- or tampering with -- a campaign sign is a crime. Offenders can be charged with theft, damage to property and trespassing. Returning them would be in their best interest.

Lois Halvorson

Cottage Grove

Keep incumbents in Newport

I will be voting for Tim Geraghty, Bill Sumner and Tom Ingemann. I feel they are doing a great job in office for the city in this tough economic time. They work well with the businesses in Newport. In the past, old and new businesses did not feel welcome here. They have made it easier for businesses to get things done, like additions to buildings, parking lots and rezoning properties.

Newport has increased its bond rating by two levels, while the federal government's rating dropped. They have even fixed up some of the parks and have also taken care of some major water drainage problems within the city. They helped to get the transit station in Newport, and the tennis courts are finally going to get repaired at Loveland Park. We have a new squad car and plans for a new needed fire truck. We all got new, accurate and easy-to-read water meters. They hired a city administrator you can talk to and who listens to citizens.

Running a city is not easy; they have to make a lot of tough decisions. Some people are not happy with some decisions they make--not putting in the fishing dock is one I personally was not happy with. A lot of people used it and still do even without the dock. But the removal was done for a reason.

What is best for the city of Newport? Tim, Tom and Bill have all lived here a long time and are going to stay here. On the other hand, Newport City Council member Steven Gallagher tried to seek the DFL nomination for the state House District 54A seat being vacated by Rep. John Kriesel. He did not get the DFL endorsement so he stayed with us in Newport. Dan Flood, a former Newport planning commissioner who had announced he would seek the GOP endorsement to oppose Rep. Betty McCollum in the 4th District Congressional race this fall, ended that campaign. I want someone who plans to stay in Newport for the long haul. I think Tim, Tom and Bill will. What do you think?

Don Drigans

Newport

Schoen will work hard for his paycheck

Annie Elmer's letter ("No support for no-show candidates Lehrke and Quinlan," Sept. 26) summed up my feeling about Derrick Lehrke. I keep reading about how he listens and is concerned about the people of Cottage Grove. That is great but I want a candidate who will work for me. On Aug. 22, Dr. Thomas Schmidt wrote he had a talk with Lehrke and that Lehrke is for the middle class. Great. So what did Lehrke do to stop Walmart from moving in? When other businesses close and middle class people lose their jobs, what does Lehrke have planned for them?

I would like to know how many meetings Lehrke missed while on the Cottage Grove City Council. I expect someone who is working hard for me to be at scheduled meetings. I expect someone who is being paid for a job to at least show up for the meetings so that they know what is going on.

On Aug. 22, David Dunn wrote in a letter: "While we can all applaud Dan Schoen's service to our city as a police officer, negotiating over a hostage and debating the merits of sound fiscal policy are completely different things." Dunn wasn't sure about his merits to have sound fiscal policy.

My hope is Dan Schoen gets elected. If he can negotiate over a hostage, then he can handle being involved in politics. Being a police officer, he is used to always being at work and he is probably used to staying late to finish projects that need to be finished.

I work hard for the money that I earn. I think Schoen will work hard for his paycheck.

I also hope Chad Rediske becomes Cottage Grove mayor. I appreciated his fiscal planning in his warning that each new park, building or splash pad comes with a long-term cost. I missed the projected figures from our current group of lawmakers as to how much more the new City Hall is going to cost us to operate.

Esther Lenartz

Cottage Grove

Olsen and Bailey are positive leaders

In my eight years of service on the Cottage Grove City Council I had many colleagues, all of whom brought their own abilities to the position of council member. None have impressed me more than Justin Olsen and Myron Bailey. Both put the best interests of Cottage Grove first and foremost in every decision they make. They do a great job of researching issues and engaging in honest dialogue before voting on a given issue, and take their roles as public servants extremely seriously, which shows in their willingness to always work hard and listen well.

Olsen and Bailey are true servant leaders who spend countless hours volunteering in a variety of roles to keep our community strong. I have never seen two people who attend more community events, value transparent citizen engagement or commit more time to doing their homework on the issues on behalf of our city's residents.

I was proud to vote to finally move the new City Hall forward before I left my seat on the council. It's a long overdue, very necessary piece of core governmental infrastructure Cottage Grove had been planning for since before I was first elected. The timing of the decision was ideal, with the costs of labor and materials at historic lows, resulting in the ability to provide Cottage Grove residents with a functional, expandable facility that will serve this community proudly for the next 40 to 50 years at a zero increase in the property tax levy. It's nowhere close to a "Taj Mahal," as some like to say, but will provide our dedicated public safety professionals with a work environment that meets all state and federal codes and the modern tools they need to do their jobs with excellence every day -- unlike our current facility.

Building now for the future at no additional cost to the taxpayers showed the vision, courage and wisdom I value and respect in my elected officials. Please join me in supporting the positive leadership and sound judgment we need in our community. Vote Olsen and Bailey for Cottage Grove this November.

Mark Grossklaus

Cottage Grove

Grossklaus is a former Cottage Grove City Council member

Things are good in Newport

The city of Newport has changed in the last four years and all of the changes were good and positive. The best change is the demeanor of the city officials. We now have friendly and helpful personnel, who make us all feel like we are valuable businesses and residents. We are valued. Four years ago, we were insignificant, without rights.

Re-electing Tim Geraghty for mayor is the best thing that we can do for this city. In the last four years he has spearheaded numerous changes within the city and has made the financial situation robust and transparent. The transparency is glaring to any interested party by looking up the website www.ci.newport.mn.us and clicking on the budget and finance tab.

With Geraghty at the helm and supported by council members Tom Ingemann and Bill Sumner, the general demeanor of the city administration has changed, all for the better. They have kept the commitments that they made prior to the last election in 2008 and performed their duties with honesty and diligence. The financial situation of the city has improved significantly, especially when the entire country is having financial difficulties. The working relationships with residents and businesses have been extremely good and civility is alive.

With everything within the city being good, harmonious and satisfactory, why should we look for change? Change sometimes is good, but when the change cannot make it any better, then it is advisable to keep thing as they are and enjoy the serenity. Please re-elect Tim Geraghty, Tom Ingman and Bill Sumner.

Kevin Haley

Newport

Flat levy is misleading; vote out incumbents

A preliminary 2013 zero levy increase approved at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting dispels the notion of the letter headlined "Numbers don't lie" in the Oct. 10 Bulletin. It is deceptive and misleading.

It may be zero, but the city's spending will increase by 3.2 percent, according to the city's own records reported and on file at City Hall.

Mayor Myron Bailey requested a zero levy, did not want to cut the spending and wanted the levy to stay flat because it is an election year. Once again they draw from the city's savings to pay for the increase in spending. Will the 3.2 percent spending increase be paid through future taxes or just allowed to deplete the savings? The current proposal for 2014 shows an 8.3 percent spending increase.

Also, the city continues to collect a $584,000 increase from the last budget cycle. This money was for the Market Value Homestead Credit and was eliminated after 2011 by the state. In 2012, the city taxed for it anyway. Instead of sending to the state, they kept it. Actual levy dollars to the city went up but the citizens were misled. They said taxes would not go up because of the city's $550,000 payment for the new City Hall. The reality is taxes went up even more than that.

We are in the season of fall, when many residents in Cottage Grove blow leaves from their yards into the roads. Those leaves will deteriorate naturally. That is not the case with the additional spending being blown down the road by Bailey and council members Jen Peterson and Justin Olson. Costs do not disappear no matter how many times they say zero levies or it is not costing you anything more. The truth will come to bite us all in increased taxes at some point.

When our council members have been given the responsibility to spend other people's money, they should know the people expect honesty and a true accounting of expenditures. We should not rob Peter to pay Paul, but that is exactly what these three are doing. Vote them out and vote for someone who expects to be held accountable for spending your money.

Vote for Matthew Kowalski, Michael Fouts and Chad Rediske.

Linda Lehrke

Cottage Grove

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