The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election News

October 27, 2010

Ward 5 race a battle over Mankato's stewardship

MANKATO — The voters of west Mankato have a clear choice between a three-term incumbent who defends the city’s record and a challenger who sees wasted spending across the city.

Joe Steck, an insurance salesman who bought his childhood home on Blue Earth Street, said the overspending that triggered debt crises gripping the nation didn’t start in St. Paul or Washington, D.C.

“ ... It started in cities like Mankato,” he said.

Incumbent Jack Considine said the council members have been “responsible stewards of the tax dollar.”

He said he’d run on the merits of the city’s accomplishments.

Steck doesn’t like the city spending $3 million on Riverfront Park when he says another park (Sibley) offers a riverside experience with an amphitheater.

He’s also bothered by the median and lack of stop signs on his street.

“Quite frankly, it’s the little things,” he said.

When asked about the highlights of his most recent term, Considine doesn’t mention the smoking ban, chicken ordinance or any of the controversial issues he views as more noise than substance.

Along with Councilman Mark Frost, Considine sat on a task force for the new water treatment plant. As a result, he said, Mankato will have secure, quality drinking water for 50 years.

Riverfront Park “turned out to be just a jewel,” he said. “I don’t think the jury’s out on that anymore.”

Other accomplishments include the improvements to the city’s credit rating, extending wastewater service to nearby cities and cleaner discharge from the wastewater plant.

The 5th Ward includes the neighborhood around Sibley Park as well as the western portion of the Lincoln Park neighborhoods. Considine took the seat after running unopposed in 1998 and defended it twice. In 2002, he beat Tate Palmer 1,453 votes to 743 and in 2006 defeated Mike Lagerquist 1,229 votes to 942.

In 2006, Considine said he would have a hard time envisioning a scenario where he’d run again.

The difficulties of working a full-time job coordinating programs for inmates at the jail along with council duties were starting to wear on him. The county, however, offered retirement incentives and Considine plans to work his last day at the county at the end of this year.

He’ll have more time on his hands, and, if re-elected, said he’ll spend some of it representating Mankato on one of the state’s two associations for cities.

Steck’s priorities, he said, would be police, fire, streets and utilities.

“We have to get back to that, taking care of the simple things,” he said.

For example, he’s dismayed at the city’s attempt to purchase the U.S. Bank building downtown for a theater expansion to the Verizon Wireless Center. The city already has two higher-education theaters, he said.

Whether it’s subsidies for downtown business, flower planters, decorative streetlamps or the spacious bathrooms at Riverfront Park, Steck has a litany of examples of what he believes are out-of-control spending.

“Plain and simple, these are tough times and tough decisions will have to be made,” he said.

He has other criticisms as well: the lack of conservative voices in the Envision 2020 planning process, poor communication with neighborhoods and not enough public discussion on some council decisions.

Considine has had at least one disappointment from his last term: a 2008 ordinance he supported to require the prevailing wage paid to workers on city-sponsored jobs. The prevailing wage is the wage at which most workers in the particular trade are paid — typically the union wage.

At the time, Considine issued a rare critique of city staff for a report that said the proposal would cost, at minimum, between $860,000 and $987,000 in one year in increased construction and enforcement costs. The proposal was voted down by the council.

The election is Tuesday.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Election News
  • Candidates GOP candidates rally the faithful in Mankato

    Republican candidates Tom Emmer and Randy Demmer were in Mankato Saturday morning rallying the faithful. Former Senator Norm Coleman was in town, too.

    October 30, 2010 1 Photo

  • election 2010 Leadership values at heart of Mankato mayoral contest

    Mankato mayoral candidates Eric Anderson and sitting mayor John Brady differ somewhat on the specifics of effective mayoral leadership.

    October 29, 2010 3 Photos

  • Walz Walz seeks 3rd term in challenging season

    A former defensive coordinator for the Mankato West Scarlets, Congressman Tim Walz is facing an all-out blitz in his run for a third term.

    October 28, 2010 1 Photo

  • Demmer Demmer offers a contrasting philosophy

    State Rep. Randy Demmer, the Hayfield Republican looking to unseat Congressman Tim Walz, isn’t offering a 100-point plan to balance the budget, or a detailed health care proposal, or a 20-year strategy to make America energy-independent.

    October 27, 2010 1 Photo

  • election 2010 Ward 5 race a battle over Mankato's stewardship

    The voters of west Mankato have a clear choice between a three-term incumbent who defends the city’s record and a challenger who sees wasted spending across the city.

    October 27, 2010 3 Photos

  • Wilson Wilson fighting uphill battle in 1st District

    Independence Party candidate Steven Wilson hasn't the funding of his two main challengers, but he's not short on ideas.

    October 26, 2010 1 Photo

  • Campaign Notebook: Governor debate tonight at MSU

    The race for governor will be focused on south-central Minnesota with tonight’s debate at Minnesota State University, but the candidates were also scheduling some additional pre-debate campaigning in the area.

    October 25, 2010

  • election 2010 Frost, Robb vie in Ward 3

    Councilman Mark Frost and challenger Carie Robb are both community-minded candidates who see themselves as common-sense councilors.

    October 25, 2010 3 Photos

  • election 2010 Foreman, Massad contend in Mankato Ward 1

    Mankato may not have a budget deficit, but its struggle to find a balance of tax increases and cuts weighs on the mind of Ward 1 competitors Najwa Massad and Karen Foreman.

    October 22, 2010 3 Photos

  • Spears North Mankato City Council candidates field wide range of topics

    Incumbents Diane Norland and Ken DeWitte and challengers Kim Spears and Bob Freyberg vied to put their best feet forward in the latest round of Greater Mankato Growth-sponsored public candidate debates for North Mankato City Council.

    October 20, 2010 4 Photos

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
Free Press news updates
Special Promotions
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment