The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election News

October 22, 2010

Foreman, Massad contend in Mankato Ward 1

MANKATO — 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.

Massad, who runs a catering business, said the City Council needs an entrepreneur.

“I would like to see priorities for the money we spend,” she said. “I would think it needs to be run like a business.”

She’s not out to make big changes, though, and says Mankato has the right package of schools, services and other benefits that attract families.

“We just have to know how to make that package attract more people,” Massad said.

Foreman, a longtime Minnesota State University employee, talks about the budget a bit differently, focusing on what she believes the city’s role is.

“One of the things we value is a safe city,” she said. “That’s a strong value to me.”

She said the frequent hill closings last year saved money but were “frustrating” at times.

“Everybody is under stress (financially), yet we need basic services,” Foreman said.

Massad and Foreman advanced to the Nov. 2 general election from a field of four.

Foreman was the top vote-getter with 326 votes, or 38 percent of the total. Massad received 289 votes, about 34 percent of the total. The two previously ran against each other in a three-way December 2006 special election, won by Vance Stuehrenberg with 293 votes. Massad came in second with 197 votes and Foreman had 135 votes.

Massad, whose family emigrated from Lebanon, said her 15 years on the Planning Commission and five on the multi-modal committee has helped prepare her for the council.

She knows how much sidewalk issues can irritate residents, but Massad likes them more after seeing a child forced to walk on Fair Street in the winter.

When asked what residents want from a councilor, she said: “They probably want an ear, when the time comes.”

She said few residents have asked her about specific issues while she’s been out knocking on doors.

Massad also cites her business experience; her company is exclusive caterer to the city-owned Verizon Wireless Center.

Foreman, who moved to Mankato from Moorhead in 1989, has been a state employee for the past 30 or so years. In addition to the 2006 Ward 1 race, she also ran for the Blue Earth County Board in 2009 and was defeated by Drew Campbell.

For Foreman, a big part of being a councilor is the 1-on-1 interactions with constituents. During the campaign she’s been guiding people to the city’s online complaint site and, when appropriate, adding some issues herself.

“I think it’s about being able to convey that you’ll listen to them and engage in dialogue about their concern,” she said. “In general, people want someone they can reach out and touch.”

Foreman has also had coalition-building, negotiation and budgetary experience while representing her fellow employees on a statewide policy committee.

While the council may not discuss Mayor John Brady’s drunken driving charges in the future, councilors have had wide-ranging reactions.

Massad said, “The people voted him in. It’s up to the people. To me, that’s the only democratic way.”

Foreman said the residents of Ward 1 don’t have a consistent opinion on the matter.

“My proclivity is to follow what the constituents say,” she said.

According to recent campaign filings, Massad has not passed the $750 reporting threshold for money spent. Foreman has spent $1,459.98 through Friday.


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