Seven vie for two open Newport council seats
NEWPORT — The City Council race heated up in the last few days of the filing period with candidates flooding in to fill two open seats.
Current City Council members Tracy Rahm and Roz Johnson have both opted against filing for election this year, leaving two seats up for grabs.
Tom Ingemann, Nathan Knox, Anita Wasmundt, Pauline Schottmuller, Al Stettner and Laurie Elliott have filed to fill the seats.
The filing period closed Tuesday, Aug. 14. The candidates will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Laurie Elliott, a 25-year Newport resident and 25-year veteran of public service, filed Aug. 14.
Elliott said she's watched the city grow over the past few years in terms of economic development and the improved city bond rating, and would like to build on that work as a City Council member.
"I think Newport has a number of opportunities coming its way, and I'd like to be part of the group that lays the foundation as well as being part of the decision making and planning," she said.
Elliott has worked in city administration and HR over her career, and is currently doing HR with the city of Shoreview, which she said helps her have a good understanding of the way cities and city councils function.
I enjoy giving back and serving the public," she said. "That was foremost in my mind."
Tom Ingemann, former City Council member and retired Newport assistant fire chief, decided to try for his old seat in this election. Ingemann, 73, lost a re-election bid in 2016.
"I'm running to give people a choice," he said. "I have the experience and leadership, I know what's going on. I try to use common sense."
Ingemann said he wants to be a voice for resident input, as he was at the time in 2015 when the Newport Police Department was disbanded and policing was taken over through a contract with Washington County. He voted against disbanding.
"There were a lot of people highly upset about getting rid of the cops," he said. "Most of the people (on the council) did not listen to the people."
Ingemann said he's also concerned that the expected savings to taxpayers after making the contract may not be as promised.
Newcomer Nathan Knox has been attending City Council meetings for the past year or so and decided to throw his hat in the ring.
Knox said he wanted to run because he feels it's every citizens' duty to be more involved with the government and stay in touch with what's happening in their community.
"I'm running for City Council to help and do my duty," he said.
Former City Council member Pauline Schottmuller is running for what would become her fourth term.
A nurse for United Hospital, she also served on Washington County Library Board and Parks and Open Space Board both during and after she was on City Council.
Schottmuller said one of her biggest concerns is the way the city is developing.
"Development needs to be driven by the comprehensive plan, by zoning laws, and also needs to be responsive to the residents' input," she said.
Schottmuller said she's concerned with how upcoming projects such as park planning and renovations, the eventual new City Hall building and street projects will be funded.
"I have some very strong feelings about how these new things need to be budgeted for ... so that it's not a significant increase in property taxes," Schottmuller said.
Her third concern is the way the City Council interacts with other agencies such as Washington County.
"Right now because of actions by our mayor we don't have a working relationship, and I feel that that needs to change too," she said.
Al Stettner, who has lived in Newport for 33 of his 44 years, said he's running for City Council to change the course of the city.
"I disagree with the direction the city is going in," he said. " ... Instead of being a complainer, get involved."
Stettner said he'd like to concentrate on the way development is moving forward in the city. He also said he opposes the loss of the Newport Police Department in 2015, and would like to have a voice on the Council in case any changes of such magnitude come before it again.
Anita Wasmundt, 60, filed for a City Council seat Aug. 6. She has lived in Newport for eight years, but said she recently started attending City Council meetings hoping to get more involved. Becoming a candidate was the next step.
"Community is important to me, and this is a way to be involved with the community," Wasmundt said. "To be there ... is a better way to be involved."
She said family is also important to her, and spends a lot of time with her daughter and two grandchildren.
Working as a tech supporter for mainframe computers, Wasmundt fills her time outside of work with volunteer work, including at the Newport Library.