The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election News

October 25, 2010

Frost, Robb vie in Ward 3

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

Robb, who served about four years on the City Council in Cold Spring, Minn., said she’s not afraid to take a stand.

She was on Mankato’s Planning Commission when the Mankato Clinic moved next to Immanuel St. Joseph’s Hospital, displacing homeowners. The move made enough sense, despite the angry homeowners, that Robb approved the move.

“When all else fails, common sense will prevail,” she said.

Frost, who is seeking a third term, has a similar story of being an unpopular leader.

He said bar owners donated to his 2002 campaign against Chip Gay, among the most active smoking ban advocates. And Frost voted against the smoking ban at first, but changed his mind.

“If you do the research, none of it (business concerns) matched up with what we were being told,” Frost said.

The voters of Mankato’s 3rd Ward will choose between a longtime Mankato pharmacist and a veteran businesswoman active in the minority community on Nov. 2.

The 2011 budget will be all but written when the victor takes office, but difficult budgetary years to come seem inevitable.

Frost said he considers himself “to be a more conservative member of the City Council.”

That is probably a fair characterization — at least fiscally — as he was the only council member to vote against the 1.9 percent levy increase in 2011.

It may sound small, “but we don’t do this in a vacuum.”

There are other tax increases and job losses to consider, he said. Public safety and roads will be his priorities going forward, and hopefully that type of spending will encourage employers to expand and relocate here, Frost said.

Robb said she learned to manage a budget in the 1950s by raising a family of eight on the $275 monthly salary of her husband, a Mankato fireman.

As far as the city’s more recent concerns, she stresses innovative economic development to increase the tax base.

She also has business experience, including her operation of the former El Seis Restaurant (“Seis” means “6” in Spanish, the number of her children) and was the first woman elected to the Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, in the 1970s.

When asked why she’s been involved in boards, commissions and councils over the decades, Robb said “They all allowed me the opportunity to bring about change.”

One of the things she’d like to change about Mankato is its relationship with its universities and their students. It’s unfair that the misbehavior of a few bring down condemnation on students in general, she said.

She cited a 2005 study showing Minnesota State University contributes $307.4 million to the local economy every year.

Robb currently handles translation services for the advocacy nonprofit LA-MANO.

Frost said he’s had an effective eight years on the council. He cites Envision 2020, his work with the Highland Park Neighborhood Association (he can’t compliment their work enough), as well as his budget scrutiny.

He also sees it as a way to give back.

“I’m a lucky guy who’s living the dream,” he said.

The candidates have very different reactions to Mayor John Brady’s drunken-driving charges.

Frost stands by his criticism of the mayor and calls for his resignation.

“If I get unelected (as a result of comments made about Brady), that’s fine,” he said.

Robb is staying out of it.

“The voters will speak. It’s not my job to judge people,” she said.


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