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Five seek two seats on council in Atwater, Minn.

ATWATER -- Five candidates, including one incumbent, are seeking two seats on the Atwater City Council.

Councilman Scott Bjornson is not seeking re-election this year.

The list includes incumbent Shane Hagstrom, former Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt, Mary Schmidt (the Schmidts are married to each other), former city councilman Jerry Spencer and former city councilman Dale Tagtow.

Mayor Mark Olson is running unopposed.

The election is Nov. 6.

The candidates for council were asked by the Tribune to respond to three questions: Why are you running for Atwater City Council? What are the top two issues facing the city of Atwater? How would you address those issues?

Shane Hagstrom

Age: 31

Career: Teacher

Civic involvement: City Council, Atwater Economic Development Agency, Immanuel Lutheran Church Council, Atwater Baseball Association

Why are you running for Atwater City Council? I feel over the past eight years we have continued to make Atwater a great place to live and I would like to keep that momentum going.

What are the top two issues facing the city of Atwater? Economic growth and providing the necessary government services and infrastructure improvements at an affordable rate.

How would you address those issues? To foster economic growth I believe we need to create an environment where people can be proud of Atwater by making it a great place to live. We can work towards this goal by providing necessary resources to assist established and future businesses and by providing services that will continue to make Atwater a great place to live and have a business. The revolving loan fund of the EDA has helped current businesses with expansion and relocation. This fund needs to be promoted so that we can foster a business climate that encourages further investment in our community. In order to fund these services we need to look at all possible avenues for funding that go beyond just the general fund. We were able to accomplish the renovation of Hotel Atwater using a mix of funds including several thousand dollars in grant money. We also need to continue to maintain our existing infrastructure, such as the downtown road project, in ways that can feasibly be accomplished using financial resources that are available. In order to make this happen the city needs to work together with community agencies, civic groups, and citizens so that Atwater's future can be successful beyond 2012.

Jerry Spencer

Age: 51

Family: Wife, Judy, of 30 years; daughters, Anna and Holly (and Aaron) Flemming; two grandsons

Career: Food and beverage manager at Ecumen of Litchfield senior living facility

Civic involvement: Rotary Club

Why are you running for Atwater City Council? I have had previous experience serving on the City Council and enjoyed the experience. I would like to be involved in helping the city grow and prosper once again.

What are the top two issues facing the city of Atwater? I don't feel that there are any top issues. I believe that any issue that comes before the council should be looked at with importance.

How would you address those issues? Every issue that is brought to the council should be treated with importance. I believe that the council should look at each issue by discussing the pros and cons and then decide on how to proceed and come up with the best solution.

Mary Schmidt

Age: 48

Family: Husband, Reed; seven children; 12 grandchildren

Career: Paraprofessional for ACGC School District 2396

Civic involvement: Volunteer with Living at Home Block Nurse Program and member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Why are you running for Atwater City Council? Having lived in Atwater for over 13 years, I want to become more involved with the city.

What are the top two issues facing the city of Atwater? Issues will need to be addressed as they arise and they should all be considered top issues.

How would you address those issues? I think that the City Council should be aware and concerned with our community and all that is a part of that, including the people of our community and the businesses of our communities. The City Council also needs to think about future businesses that would be of benefit to our community. The council needs to keep in mind the children and what will benefit them and their families.

Reed Schmidt

Age: 62

Family: Wife, Mary; seven children; 12 grandchildren

Career: More than 30 years in law enforcement, 14 years as chief of police for the city of Atwater, (retired as of Aug. 1.)

Civic involvement: Member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and serve on the Church Council

Why are you running for Atwater City Council? After serving in law enforcement for over 30 years, I understand the workings of city government and I want to be involved in our city.

What are the top two issues facing the city of Atwater? Dealing with the everyday activities of the city and making sure we provide all the proper services for our community and citizens living here.

How would you address those issues? I have seen over the years that so often new council members want to get elected to take care of one problem they see and something that needs to be addressed, and once elected they find that there are many issues that need addressing and at that point questioned why they got involved. I think we as council members need to address the everyday workings of the city, and to help to build our community with all the proper services, and help our community businesses grow, or develop new businesses to make our community strong. With state funding cut to small cities, we need to look at how we can provide all the needed services, (police, fire department, street, sewer, water, and such) and still make sure we don't add additional burdens to our community. We also need to search out how to help our business community grow, and keep all the businesses we have now.

Dale Tagtow

Age: 55

Family: Wife, Tami

Career: Sales, Atwater Ford

Civic involvement: Treasurer of local High School Alumni Association, city of Atwater Planning and Zoning member, past Atwater City Council member, past treasurer for Atwater Economic Development Agency

Why are you running for Atwater City Council? I am seeking a council seat to lend a voice for good government.

What are the top two issues facing the city of Atwater? The issues facing our city are numerous. The current services we have and need to maintain come under increasing budget pressure yearly, and communication needs to be improved. We need to know what is going on.

How would you address those issues? Making available information about the issues facing our city is crucial. One council meeting per month is just not adequate. I really believe that when the residents can hear the real facts on issues, they can help with ideas and past experiences to aid in making the best decisions. Communication is the key to this; we as residents have a right to know what is going on. Special interest groups are numerous. I feel that we should always consider what we do for one, we should be willing to do for all. I will not be a spending creep.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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