Glenwood City to hold recall election on Tuesday
Three candidates are challenging incumbents in a recall election scheduled for Tuesday, Dec.17, in Glenwood City. The New Richmond News asked each candidate to answer questions focused primarily on the issues surrounding the proposed frac sand mine that motivated this recall election. All challengers and incumbents were given the opportunity to answer the questions, but only the challengers responded.
Ken Peterson is challenging Mayor John Larson. Barb Standaert is challenging council member Nancy Hover. Chris Schone is challenging council member Dave Graese.
What is the principle reason that you have decided to run in this recall election?
Ken Peterson: I was disappointed with the city’s inaction on the referendum request, and I wanted to give my fellow residents a choice.
Chris Schone: My primary reason for running in this election is that I do not feel that the citizens of Glenwood City are being represented by their city council or mayor. The people here have serious concerns about the proposed mine and have not been allowed any input. With the issue of possible annexation and creation of a 25-plus-year sand mine located this close to their homes, K-12 school system, nursing home, etc., the people who will have to live alongside it deserve a voice and some power in the decisions that are being made.
Barbara Standaert: When I was asked to run by a group of concerned citizens, I thought that this could be my time to give back to my community if I were to be elected. I am a life-long resident of Glenwood City, and I truly care for this town. I had been following the sand mine issue for a few months and was worried by some of the things I was hearing, researching and learning and felt things were moving too quickly at the council level without enough community input.
Are you in favor of holding a referendum on whether or not to annex the property in question (Teigen / Crosby) into the city’s jurisdiction?
Peterson: Yes, definitely. A non-binding referendum was requested by many residents and the city failed to act. The city’s inaction on the referendum request is ultimately what fueled the recall effort. The current council and mayor are in place to handle the day-to-day, month-to-month operations of the city, and they have done a great job. But, when a possible 400-acre annexation is on the table, the most efficient way to let people have input is via referendum.
Schone: Absolutely. A referendum is something that we worked on here in Glenwood City this spring and summer. In a very short time more than 340 signatures were collected and submitted to our mayor and city council. The majority of the registered voters of Glenwood City asked for an advisory referendum on the issue of annexation and it was not granted. Rather, the council tabled the referendum with nothing more than a short discussion. The residents who signed the petition for referendum were just dismissed with no regard for their opinion. A referendum would have been a small investment in time and money to get a very clear picture of how the people of Glenwood City feel on an issue that will affect their lives in such drastic ways every day for 25 years.
Standaert: Yes. I would be in favor of holding a referendum to allow any citizens to vote whether they even want a frac sand mine anywhere near the city or school. I believe an issue of this magnitude should have as much citizen input as possible since the people would be the ones to be affected either positively or negatively.
Are you for or against allowing a frac sand mine at the proposed location close to the school? Why or why not?
Peterson: Even if the mine is run properly, I feel it is still just too close. The volume of truck traffic that would accompany the mine is not desirable. Also, I am not confident that Vista Sand, a Texas company, holds the local area residents’ welfare and safety in high regard.
Schone: I am opposed to this particular mine location. That being said, I am not opposed to all mining. The proposed location is 1/4 mile from our K-12 school system literally bordering the entire south edge of our city for nearly 1 1/2 miles. Many families will have this mine as their closest neighbor. The 700 residents of the Village of Downing whom the mine will border on the west have not been asked to join the discussion by our council. Our two cities have worked together on many issues over the years and for the Glenwood City council to shut them out of this important discussion is wrong.
Standaert: Very much against. From what I have researched, there are just too many negative factors: safety due to increased truck traffic, noise and most importantly, possible health effects of long-term exposure to silica dust to the children and staff. This is my 17th year working as an elementary teacher in the local school. I have had hundreds of children pass through my door and they are like my own children in many ways. I would always choose in their best interest.
Would you consider permitting a frac sand mine if the location were different from the currently proposed location? What might make a different location agreeable?
Peterson: I would consider it. A mine not located adjacent to a population concentration (Downing), within sight of a K-12 school and a truck route that would not interfere with inexperienced school-age drivers going to/from school would be a good start to an agreeable location.
Schone: Again I am not against all sand mining. I do not think I would permit a mine within current city limits, mostly due to the concerns I would have to property values, aesthetic value, health concerns and possible water issues. This is a question truly for the residents of Glenwood City.
Standaert: Not sure. I would still want to collect much information and weigh the costs and benefits of the mine. I would also want to let the area people have a say. No matter where a mine is located, it changes the land and still has the potential to cause environmental disturbances and affect people in a negative way. I think this industry has gotten too large too fast to be regulated properly and without thinking about long-term effects thoroughly.
How would you propose to bolster city revenue to address shortages like those affecting the future of the public library?
Peterson: I believe that it is possible to grow the job base and tax base. It won’t happen overnight, but we as a city, both chamber of commerce and city government, need to actively reach out and market to small manufacturers and commercial businesses to open here in Glenwood City.
Schone: I have stated before I am not privy to all budgetary issues facing our city. Our current council and mayor have done a fine job of turning our city finances around. I do not think that this mine and the complications it brings are a positive trade off for the “projected” jobs numbers and revenue influx to the city. Our city offers a high quality of life. We are a small town and need to use our citizens as resources to create a plan for growing our city in the future. A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy needs to be developed for our city. A diligent mayor and council would be needed to follow that plan. What are our town’s strengths? What type of businesses do we want to support and see grow here? How do we communicate to the world that we are open for business? All these questions need to be considered. I hope to have a part in creating a brighter future for Glenwood City.
Standaert: The recall came about because of the issue of the frac sand mine, so I will answer questions pertaining to that. If I am elected, then I will study other issues facing the city.