Councilman Steve Gardner's significant opposition (accurate election results: 3 to 1) is primarily due to his choice to not represent the best interests of Ward 2, his inappropriate handling of disagreements, and misguided justifications of his actions.
His wrongful stand regarding Westwind was only the catapult that dramatically exposed his lack of leadership and judgment. Instead of weighing facts presented by local real estate agents, Gardner ignored decades of professional experience as opinion. Instead of investigating the concerning discrepancies on the grant application, Gardner dismissed them. Instead of looking for a workable solution, he disregarded a compromise. A land developer was willing to trade undeveloped property within the same vicinity and provide financial compensation.
Instead of agreeing to disagree on a land issue, Gardner said that the debate was about discrimination. Instead of taking negative criticism from some civil constituents, Gardner called them racists and kicked them out of his former business. Many of his neighbors exemplify love and charity to the diverse and low-income people in their homes, church and community. Leaders unite but Gardner drove a wedge among our diverse community.
When leaders make a mistake, they admit their wrongdoing and take responsibility, but Gardner continually justifies his errors with legal jargon and ethical misrepresentations. Gardner overlooked the legal argument of the Committee of Land Use Excellence attorney but gave credence to the League of Minnesota Cities attorney who may be biased as the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership's threat to sue could diminish their funds. Leaders with integrity walk the talk with humility. Scripture should be used to glorify God, not ourselves.
Leaders act respectfully but Gardner attacked council members who appropriately asked questions and shared valid concerns. I am sorry Gardner may have been subjected to some painful comments from a few anonymous critics but I am equally sorrowed by the nasty undeserved comments that were directed to council members Ron Christianson, Jim Dokken, Rick Fagerlie and Cindy Swenson. They have lovely families too.