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Willmar mayoral candidate Zack Liebl wants to help lead with positive attitude

Zack Liebl kicks off his campaign for mayor of Willmar Thursday evening with a picnic in downtown Willmar. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — Willmar mayoral candidate Zack Liebl is a member of the younger generation that’s ready to step forward and help govern the city.

Speaking to about 50 people at a downtown rally Thursday afternoon to kick off his campaign for mayor in the November general election, Liebl said community members who asked him to consider running for mayor told him they are sick of the old and want new leadership.

“They’re ready for a change,’’ Liebl said. “I said yes, this is the time to do it. It’s time to make that change and help our city move forward from where we’re at.’’

Liebl, a graduate of Ridgewater College and St. John’s University, talked about the report from the Vision 2040 effort. One of the findings, based on community input, was that people wanted the next generation to step up.

“If our generation doesn’t step up now, when it’s time to hand it off, we’re not going to catch anything and they’re going to fall,’’ said Liebl, an officer in the Minnesota Army National Guard and outreach coordinator for the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery Store.

Growing up in Willmar, Liebl said he always wanted to make a difference wherever he could. Liebl said his main focus is building relationships. He said he believes accomplishments are based on relationships and how people help each other.

“I want to help lead with a positive attitude,’’ he said. “Right now, it seems like we’re in the ruts. But our city has so much potential, so many difference aspects that need to be acted on and utilized so that we can be that bigger, better, stronger community for all of us to live, work, and play in.’’

Liebl listed six focus areas:

- Economic growth and development. “We’re starting to see that. But we can take better initiatives, different approaches to help our city grow quicker.’’

- Work with the Vision 2040 effort “because it was such a broad scope of people that came together. We need to embrace that because this is something our community really needs.’’

- Ridgewater College. Liebl said the college’s nearly 2,000 students are never considered when policies are brought up. He advocated working with them and seeing what they need. “They have a lot of great ideas. We need to be encouraging them for that.’’

- Diversity. “We have to embrace our diverse population and embrace the next generation because if we don’t, we will be left in the dust and our city can’t afford that. These are people that have come here to make a better life and we need to be helping them, embracing them, because they have so much to offer.’’

- Affordable housing. “Young people can’t find apartments and homes that are remotely within their price range and there are ways to fix that and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers tons of money. We have to be innovative and forward thinking.’’

- Fair and fiscally responsible budget. “We shouldn’t be spending abundances of money, but we shouldn’t be afraid to invest in our community because a community that is invested in is a community that the citizens want to live in.’’

“When we come together and work together, we can accomplish great things,’’ he said. “A city’s not going to be successful with one great leader. It’s going to be successful with a whole group of leaders coming together and working together.’’

Former Willmar fire chief/fire marshal Marv Calvin has also announced his intention to run for mayor.

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