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One Big Whoop 09/29/14 (updated 9/30/14, 9:44 AM)

Well, just got home from the Chamber of Commerce forum for City Council candidates.

By my count, there were about 40 people in the audience, at least five of whom are not Jordan residents.

All the candidates agreed the Downtown should be better, prettier, more inviting.

All the candidates agreed City Hall and the Police Department should be kept downtown.

All the candidates agreed Jordan needs more businesses.

Actually, all the candidates agreed on pretty much everything, which probably says something about the nature of the questions.

There were six questions.  They were softballs, which didn’t require any candidate to stick his or her neck out.  I suppose I should be happy about that, but I’m not.  I don’t know anything more about any of the candidates now than I did yesterday.

The Question Is . . .
I’m paraphrasing here.

1 What would you do to bring business to Jordan?

None of the answers were especially memorable.  I said my first strategy was to shop in Jordan whenever possible.  There was a lot of talk about incentives, and publicity.

2. What have you done to prepare for the position?

Several of the responses featured candidate’s long-term residency in Jordan.  A couple of them mentioned they’ve been active on the Planning Commission.  The incumbents of course, talked about what they’ve done since being elected.  None of the others said boo about attending meetings, or making their voices heard.  Some pointed out they’ve followed the Council doings in the paper.  Right.  I follow the Packers doings in the paper.  That doesn’t make me a linebacker.

3. Should City Hall and the Police Department remain Downtown?

Again, universal agreement – yes they should.  But as near as I could tell, I was the only one who raised the issue of what we can afford in light of other needs.

4. This question was about tax increment financing, and tax abatement. 

Both are incentives used to lure businesses.  Again, universal agreement that they must be used very carefully.

5. This question was about Downtown.

Everyone wants Downtown to be beautiful and vibrant.  Who would not want that?

6. What is your vision for Jordan 5/10/20 years from now?

Seriously.  Was anybody going to say Jordan should be a mecca for rock concerts or gravel mines?  We all want the same things.  A more prosperous town.  A cleaner town.  A place people will come to, and want to stay at.  (Oddly enough, these are the same things people like Rob and Mara Mishica, and Richard Thom want.)

7. Why vote for me?

Well, since most of the candidates want the same things, about the only selling points they could muster were sincerity, desire to give back to the community, and/or long time residency.  As near as I could tell, none of the others talked about listening to, and responding to everyone.

So, my take on the forum?  I’m glad I participated, and I hope the Chamber of Commerce (or someone) will do it again in two years.  But if the questions are going to be fluff, and the answers are going to be about baseball or the number of years a candidate has lived in Jordan, then the forum isn’t really very helpful in forming an opinion about the candidates.  One big plus – this time everyone had his/her own microphone.  No more of that nonsensical passing one or two mics back and forth.  That was really a big improvement.

Maybe next time we can have questions about flood plain insurance, the high cost of water, or candidate opinions of MnDOT.

A Reader Comments
I can give you a one-word synopsis for the forum and that is "boring".  I had trouble staying awake.  As you probably will in reading my comments.  

At the last two forums, there were questions that were pointed directly at certain candidates to put them in a bad light.  Glad that those have gone away, but this was the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction.

I did notice a couple of things:
One candidate seems to have matured a bit and spoke more intelligently.
Jason, the "new kid" did a nice job.

Several were all about themselves and what they have done, especially if previously on the Council, which can be useful but was way overstated.  If, as voters, you are paying attention, you know what has been done or not done.

Incumbents were even defensive about the Council actions to date.  Sally and Jeremy, who have served long terms, stated they aren't done yet.  Well as a proponent of term limits, I won't give Council members more than 8 years to accomplish things.  Time for someone else to bring in fresh ideas and try to get things done.

As you said, Thom, it was tough to get info on the new candidates because of the "fluff" questions.  

Brenda used the word "process" too many times and did not explain how that would be helpful to the Council.  
John mentioned that votes at the Council should not all be 7-0.  I agree with that.

And yes, there seemed to be a sense that the longer you have lived here, the more qualified you are to be on the Council.  To me that all smacks of "not really a Jordanite unless born here" for which Jordan has been known and the "old boy network", which the old boys deny exists.  

I too am concerned about not having seen the new ones at more Council meetings.  Seems like if you are thinking of running you should be heavily involved for the preceding year or so.  Otherwise you spend the first year of your term "catching up".

Part of the question (I believe) about tax increment and tax abatement, asked which they preferred.  None of the candidates addressed that and I wonder if it wasn't because they didn't know the difference or don't understand either one.  Let's get off all the questions about business and talk about residents.

Your comment, Thom, about having questions next time about flood plain insurance, etc could have been addressed somewhat in either of the questions "What is your vision. .  and Why vote for me?"  Jeremy did mention lowering the water bills.

The audience was not able to ask questions of the candidates.  Maybe because of time's sake but I had a few.

It was rewarding to see so many want to "serve".  I hope it is to see the community as a whole served and not just themselves or their buddies.

My mind was made up about whom I was going to vote for before I attended the forum and it did not change.

Good luck, Thom.  (Whichever direction that good luck takes you.)

Kathy Lapic

My Response
Kathy, I wish my mind were as quick as yours.  The difference between paying taxes back, and not paying taxes at all is a fine distinction, worthy of more discussion.  And to tell you the truth, I am certainly not an expert on either.  I just know I don’t like giving tax incentives to draw businesses, since that means taking money from residents to pay for the services those businesses inevitably need.

I could have addressed flood plains in my final response about vision for the future.  My bad.

And yes, we incumbents were defensive about what we’ve accomplished so far.  When six new heads pop up in the Whack-a-Mole game, and they all pretty much agree with what the incumbents say, one has to wonder why they’re running.

Mr. Herzog’s comment about not knowing so many people would put their names in the hat is bogus.  He was the seventh to file, and if he thought the race was crowded, he could have withdrawn his name within two days,

Mr. Chalupsky could have done even better it he’d ditched the gum, and quit the nervous swiveling in his chair.  Just sayin’.

I agree about term limits.  If whatever a Councilor what’s to accomplish hasn’t been done in eight years, it’s either out of step with what the community wants, or the Councilor lacks what it takes to get things done.

The Quote:
Once you start asking questions, innocence is gone.”
          Mary Astor

City Council Meeting, Monday, November 3rd, 6:30 PM, at Jordan City Hall

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