Weather Forecast


Liebl announces candidacy for mayor of Willmar in 2014

WILLMAR — Former Independence Party candidate Zack Liebl of Willmar announced Tuesday he will be a candidate for the office of mayor of Willmar in the 2014 general election.

Liebl, 25, said he might as well announce his candidacy now because people of different political parties and all ages and ethnic backgrounds have encouraged him to do so.

“I’m really honored by all the encouragement,’’ Liebl said to reporters and to about a dozen applauding family members and friends gathered at Azteca Mexican Restaurant in downtown Willmar.

“It’s very promising to show that there’s hope in Willmar for an even greater community than we already have right now,’’ he said. “I know that’s what I need to be doing and I feel this community is ready for it.’’

Liebl said Willmar received a “big turn-around’’ a few weeks ago with the Vision 2040 presentation. He said the plan “gave us the next steps that we need to take for Willmar to be even more successful and grow to become a stronger community.’’

Liebl said Vision 2040 presenter Rebecca Ryan spoke of the need to embrace the next generation and new wave of leaders “so that current community leaders can be mentors and the next generation can step up and bring us into the future.’’

Liebl, who was an unsuccessful candidate last year for the District 17B seat in the Minnesota House, said his campaign logo — Leadership. Respect. Vision. — is ready to go.

“We’re ready for new ideas. I ask for your support to help bring that new leadership in, that is going to believe in our community, embrace our city’s diversity, and to seek innovative ideas from all sides to come together in order to help grow our local economy and build a stronger and healthier community for all of us to live and grow in,’’ he said.

“I believe we need to have the ability to listen, to process, to come up with new ideas and be able to help bring people together to find the best solution for a problem that is facing us,’’ he said. “Remember and respect the past, and focus and believe in the present. But we have to embrace our future.’’

Liebl said his House candidacy gave him the experience of doing a large-scale campaign. His announcement now will “get the ball rolling,’’ but he won’t really kick off the campaign until early spring.

Regarding the view by some that the City Council is “dysfunctional,’’ Liebl said better communication and respect for differing views are needed.

“If you’re not willing to even look at a different view, you might not find the best solution,’’ he said.

On taxes and spending, Liebl said Willmar is fiscally stable. He said he’s fiscally responsible and he did not see the need to raise the city property tax levy any time soon.

“There’s always room for improvement but I do not see anything major right now that should be cut,’’ he said.

Liebl was born and raised in and around Willmar. He was active in the Kandiyohi County 4-H program and in community theater and soccer. He is a home-schooled graduate, a graduate of Ridgewater College and a 2010 graduate of St. John’s University with a degree in political science.

At 17, he enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard as a combat engineer.

After graduating from St. John’s, he received his commission and is an engineering officer, serving as rear detachment company commander for the 850th Horizontal Engineering Company in Cambridge.

Liebl has been working under an Otto Bremer Foundation grant for Habitat for Humanity of West Central Minnesota as a volunteer and family services coordinator. In July, Liebl began work as outreach coordinator for the Community-Owned Grocery.

Liebl is a member of The Barn Theatre board of directors, the Rotary Club of Willmar and the Willmar Design Center Historic Preservation Committee.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150