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Letter: Sen. Gimse clarifies letter to city

During the April 7 meeting of the Willmar City Council, Mayor Les Heitke referenced a letter I sent to the city congratulating them on receiving some grant funds for the Westwinds housing project.

The way Heitke presented the letter has led some to believe that it was a letter of support for his position on the project. That clearly is not the intent of the letter and Heitke was wrong to use my name and the letter for that purpose.

I am extremely disappointed that he took this approach because he knows it would be inappropriate for an elected state official to exert influence on what is clearly a local decision. An analogy would be that while I support funding for libraries, it would not be appropriate for me to tell the librarian what books to put on the shelves.

My job as a state senator is to support all approved grant and funding requests that are made by local entities. As a routine part of the process, and a courtesy, I send out a letter of congratulations to the receiving party. In the course of a year I send out hundreds of similar congratulatory letters to my constituents.

I hope this clears up any confusion the mayor may have caused by his actions. I will continue to advocate for the needs of my district. However, unfortunately I may have to consider placing a disclaimer on any future letters I send to Mayor Heitke.