Bulletin election forum: Cottage Grove mayor candidates differ on what attracts residents and businesses to cityCandidates running for Cottage Grove mayor and city council drew some stark contrasts with one another Monday over what they as more valuable to a city: more amenities or lower taxes.
Candidates running for Cottage Grove mayor and city council drew some stark contrasts with one another Monday over what they as more valuable to a city: more amenities or lower taxes.
The forum, sponsored by the Bulletin and South Washington County Telecommunications Commission, gathered three mayoral hopefuls and five council candidates at Cottage Grove for a debate that aired live on a local cable channel.
The candidates split when asked which factor they believed better attracted new residents and businesses to the city — more amenities for residents, like parks, playgrounds and splash pads, or lower taxes.
In the mayoral portion of the forum, incumbent Mayor Myron Bailey said he believed what will attract new residents and businesses to Cottage Grove “is not so much about [the] taxes they’re paying but the amenities we have.”
City leaders have to consider and balance both the need for core services and community amenities like parks, trails or pools, and a reasonable tax burden for residents and businesses, he said. Under the city’s proposed 2013 budget, the average Cottage Grove resident will be paying less in property taxes to the city than they did in 2004, Bailey said, repeating a point made by city staff during a budget presentation to the City Council last month.
Chad Rediske, who is running to oppose Bailey, seemed to blame state taxes rather than those on the local level for being an impediment to growth in the city.
As mayor, “I would be a thorn in Gov. [Mark] Dayton’s side,” he said of the need to lower commercial tax rates in the state. “I would be a thorn in the Legislature’s side.”
Rediske praised the city’s amenities, calling Cottage Grove “a beautiful place.” But, he warned, each new park, building or splash pad comes with a long-term cost.
“Everything we add that is new, that’s more [money] that comes out of your budget,” he said.
Chad Magle, making his first run for public office in challenging Bailey, said more recreational features wouldn’t lure him to a new city. Lower taxes would drive growth, he said, bringing in more businesses and giving residents more money to spend at those businesses.
“It’s the small things that add up in a community,” he said. “More amenities aren’t going to drive more people here.”
A fourth mayoral candidate, Lezlie Schriver, did not respond to an invitation to participate in the forum.
The candidates were scheduled to take part in a forum hosted by the Minnesota League of Women Voters-Woodbury/Cottage Grove Tuesday night.
Mayoral candidates' closing statements