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Who filed, who didn’t: Aug. 12 primary election set for Willmar City Council’s Ward 2 seat

WILLMAR — Voters will narrow a field of three candidates to two challengers for the Willmar City Council seat from Ward 2 in the Aug. 12 primary election. The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The top two vote-getters in the primary will face off in the Nov. 4 general election.

Council contests also developed in Willmar’s Ward 1 and Ward 3.

Also, Mayor Frank Yanish did not file for reelection to a second term. Two others have filed for the office.

Voters will elect one council representative from each of the city’s four wards and a mayor. All terms are for four years. Current terms expire in early January 2015.


The Tribune was unable to reach Yanish for a comment Tuesday afternoon. Those who filed earlier are former Willmar fire chief/fire marshal Marv Calvin, and Zack Liebl, outreach coordinator for the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery.

Ward 1

Incumbent Bruce DeBlieck, maintenance supervisor of the state ARMER radio system in southwest Minnesota, filed for reelection to the seat he has held since 1990.

DeBlieck said Tuesday he filed because he wants to see a number of things continued and follow through with the council. He said the city has some building maintenance needs that need to be addressed.

He said streets and the assessment policy need to be looked at and how funds are raised for financing those projects.

Also, he said a lot of change with city staff will be coming and he said the council needs to keep some seniority to see those changes through and to bring in new staff.

Also filing was Andrew Plowman who has worked for the past 11 years for a family-owned manufacturing business in Prinsburg.

Plowman, 30, was born and raised in Willmar, attended Community Christian School, Central Minnesota Christian School, graduated from Willmar Senior High School and received a college degree from Brown College.

“It is because of my family that I am running for this position. I believe convicted people need to stand up and take part in shaping the future of our community. The economic landscape is changing rapidly and the coming generations deserve communities in which they can thrive, not simply tolerate,’’ he said.

“I also don’t believe good and effective government simply happens. Rather, a well-planned and executed strategy must be put into place, by a body of people who are able to plan, negotiate and work together in an efficient and cohesive manner. Always.

“It is my hope that the citizens of Willmar desire the same long-term success for our community and will support me in this bid for City Council. I am representing myself, an average hard-working husband and father, my wife, family, friends, and every other citizen in Willmar that agrees: community is important. I am grateful for the opportunity,’’ he said.

Ward 2

Incumbent Ron Christianson and challengers Rich Taylor and former council member Steve Gardner have filed.

Christianson, who filed Monday, has served on the council since he was first elected in 1994. He is a graduate of Willmar High School and the drafting and design program at Ridgewater College (formerly Willmar Area Vocational Technical Institute). He is co-owner of Christianson Brothers Construction of Willmar and is an Air Force veteran.

“I am running for reelection because I still have a passion for wanting to be where decisions are made about the ward I live in and our city in general. The last couple of years have been somewhat challenging. But I believe we’ve accomplished much and I strongly believe that we can make our city better tomorrow than today,’’ he said.

“I want to be a part of making our city better as two of our three children have chosen to live in Willmar and raise three (soon to be four) of our grandchildren in Willmar. I also want to make sure that our city-owned buildings and parks are properly maintained for their owners — the people of Willmar. If reelected, I will continue to be a guardian of the public’s money and watch out for wasteful government excess,’’ he said.

Taylor, quality assurance and infection control director at Willmar Surgery Center, filed May 22, and Steve Gardner, document imaging sales specialist with Bennett Office Technologies who served on the council from 2005 to 2009, filed May 20.

Ward 3

A contest is also in store in Ward 3. Incumbent Rick Fagerlie filed for reelection last week. He has served on the council for the past 22 years and is chair of the Community Development Committee.

He will be opposed by Bob Enos, a former member of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission’s Joint Operations Board.

Enos said Tuesday afternoon that Fagerlie’s handling of the Jennie-O land deal is a prime example of how inherent conflicts of interest can turn politicians into advocates for powerful insiders. Enos said Fagerlie showed no interest in a public debate on the issue.

“Willmar needs leaders who aren’t afraid to listen to opinions of all the people, not just the demands of special interest groups. Transparency requires putting an end to backroom deal-making once and for all,’’ he said.

“As Willmar’s largest employer and an integral part of our economy, Jennie-O is a terrific local success story. But if a Fortune 500 company can’t stand on its own two feet without handouts from Willmar’s taxpayers, then what company can? And let’s be honest: Willmar has helped pay for Jennie-O’s success in other ways, both economic and social.’’

Enos relocated to Willmar from Massachusetts in 2008 with his brother, Michael, for whom he is primary caregiver. Enos holds a master’s degree in public administration. He served in administration in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, and later was a consultant in New York City, advising companies engaged in manufacturing, engineering, and commodities management.

He left New York as vice president of strategic planning and business development for a Wall Street economics research and consulting firm, returning to his home state in order to attend to pressing family demands.

“I have the right background, skills, and interest for this job. As a relative newcomer, I’m beholden to no one and ready to listen to everyone. Many Willmarites know me as a man who gets to the point. Our City Council needs leaders with the confidence and the courage to set priorities, make tough choices to reduce spending, and demand excellence, regardless of intimidation from powerful insiders.’’

Ward 4

Councilwoman Audrey Nelsen is unopposed for a four-year term. She was elected in February 2013 to fill an unexpired term. Nelsen said she has appreciated the opportunity to serve on the council for the year and would like to continue.

“I am pleased to submit my name for reelection. I’ve learned a lot over the last year. I believe in this community and I’m willing to commit to working for the positive for our future, excited about the vision that Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 has and what people want for this city,’’ Nelsen said Tuesday.

“I have respect for our past and a vision for our future, and I think that is critical to our community,’’ she said.

Nelsen worked in banking for over 20 years and has been a certified preplanning consultant for the last 14 years at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home.

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