The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 24, 2012

Mankato council race offers a rematch

By Dan Linehan
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — In the 2008 election for Mankato’s 4th Ward, incumbent Charlie Hurd said he was defending the neighborhood against nuisance crimes. Challenger Jason Mattick said he was a regular guy who was skeptical the changes would amount to much.

In this Ward 4 rematch, the players are the same, and the issues haven’t changed much, either.

Hurd, the incumbent, remains an advocate for what he calls “neighborhood improvement,” including the community policing strategy employed by Public Safety Director Todd Miller, hired in 2010.

“I think they’ve gone from a call-to-call philosophy to actually problem-solving,” Hurd said. He said the Lincoln Park and downtown neighborhoods of the 4th Ward are better places to live than they were four years ago.

Mattick says his value would be to bring a new, younger voice to the City Council. He is 29.

“I would say I’m open-minded. I don’t have an agenda,” Mattick said. He said he’s interested in how Mankato fits “the big picture.”

Hurd joined the council after an April 2006 special election in which he earned 112 of the 357 votes cast.

After results came in on Election Day in 2008, Hurd admitted he was a “little befuddled” by the closeness of the race and attributed it in part to an influx of new voters attracted by the presidential race. He won that contest with 1,401 votes to Mattick’s 1,230.

But Hurd said he’s doing the same amount of campaigning this time around, mostly knocking on doors and dropping off leaflets.

Mattick said the results of the 2008 election buoyed his spirits, as have the reactions of residents he’s spoken with time around.

“It was mostly all of the support that I got,” he said after being asked why he decided to run again.

Redistricting grew the ward, mostly in an area domination by Minnesota State University students. The ward’s population shrank relative to the rest of the city, so it expanded to include part of an apartment complex southwest of the intersection of Warren Street and Balcerzak Drive.

The budget

Hurd said he deserves some credit for budget scrutiny, including the reduction of the $50,500 line item for staffing at Elks Nature Center. The center’s budget was cut by $30,000 for the 2010 budget, then eliminated in this year’s budget.

In 2009, Hurd called the Rasmussen Woods center “something we’d like to have but something we can’t really seem to afford anymore.”

He also said the budget has become more readable during his years on the council. Summary explanations have been added for many parts of the budget.

Hurd also has been a consistent advocate for the Verizon Wireless Center and its planned expansion.

“There’s no question about the economic value of the civic center,” he said.

Mattick acknowledged he doesn’t “really have a good handle on the spending” but said his emphasis would be on maintaining existing infrastructure.

The big votes

The most recent controversial issue on the council was a vote on whether to support or oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Hurd abstained from the vote, saying it wasn’t the city’s business.

“I didn’t think it was a function of the City Council to tell people how to vote,” he said.

In 2010, he voted in favor of a two-year trial period to allow chickens. Later that year, he voted to censure former Mayor John Brady, convicted of drunken driving.

Mattick said his leadership style is to think things over and figure out what benefits the most people.

He also said he’s “kind of the underdog guy, too.”

“If I have a dissenting opinion, I’m going to stick to that.”