Calvin cites leadership, vision, collaboration
WILLMAR -- Marv Calvin, 58, is citing what he calls his proven leadership, vision and collaboration as he campaigns for the office of mayor of Willmar in the run-up to the Nov. 4 general election.
WILLMAR - Marv Calvin, 58, is citing what he calls his proven leadership, vision and collaboration as he campaigns for the office of mayor of Willmar in the run-up to the Nov. 4 general election.
Calvin, who served as Willmar’s first full-time fire chief and fire marshal from January 2000 to August 2012 and currently is fire training liaison for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System via Ridgewater College, is running for the four-year office currently held by Mayor Frank Yanish who is not seeking re-election.
It is imperative, according to Calvin, that a sense of leadership, trust and respect among the mayor’s office, City Council, administration and community at large be restored.
“I believe the city of Willmar needs change at the mayoral level. We need proven leadership. We need proven vision and we need proven collaboration. I bring all those things to the table,’’ Calvin said in an interview.
Calvin said he has the respect of citizens and wants to bring Willmar back to the regional center that it once was: providing leadership not only to Willmar citizens, but also to the region because he said the city’s employment base comes from outside the city.
“We have a huge catchment base of people coming in to be employed here, so what affects Willmar affects a lot of people,’’ he said.
Calvin said he will bring people together by first finding out what they have in common. He said elected citizens are committed to the best of the community, but said they each have a different way of looking at things.
“We have to get back to what they all believe in as that common piece,’’ he said. “Then you have to set goals and some visioning and that’s where my proven experience in that will help because I’ve done that on the state, region, county and local levels.’’
Through his leadership, Calvin said, a 13th college campus was added to the 12 campuses in the MnSCU fire training program.
“By working with others, we recaptured the market share we had lost,’’ he said.
Calvin said neither of his two opponents “can hold a candle to me’’ in qualifications, public service and giving back to the community. Calvin serves on 10 different boards or commissions - some more active than others - and he and his wife, Ginna, are very involved in the community.
Also, Calvin said he has 18 years of experience of reviewing and submitting city budgets. Calvin said he understands how city budgets work inside and out, and said he has much more knowledge on how to run a city budget than his two opponents.
“I know how to expand and contract city budgets as are needed,’’ Calvin said. “I’m fiscally conservative. I have worked with different mayors, councils and city managers. I know different styles. I know how to bring the strength out in each of those.’’
Calvin said he would like to see a full staffing study done to look at what city staff does, make sure the people working in those positions are the right people for those jobs, and make sure the services that citizens expect are being covered.
“I think we’re doing a good job at that. But until we do an in-depth analysis, I bet we really won’t know the answer. When you hire a consultant and he gives you an opinion, there probably is at least one thing you could pull out of the document and improve the organization by following this recommendation,’’ he said.
“We maybe should have done that when it came to the staffing study and seeing at least one thing rather than throwing the whole report out. We only had phase one of the report. We didn’t complete the entire report because the council didn’t ask for that to be done. I would like to see that totally done,’’ said Calvin.
He was referring to a $25,000 consultant’s organizational study that a minority of council members said would create operational efficiencies. Instead, council members voted 5-3 in August 2013 to continue with the present organizational structure.
Calvin said shifting dollars to pay for City Auditorium improvements will have long-lasting effects on future budgets and is not a way to balance a budget.
To catch up on city infrastructure needs, Calvin would seek citizen involvement and have the city engineer and finance director provide a detailed plan on costs to bring city infrastructure up to where the city needs it to be.
“That will give us a tangible number to shoot for. We need to know what it’s actually going to cost us. If we look at parks and building needs, that number will be a staggering number. I will address these issues,’’ Calvin said.
He also said citizens will be informed.
“The best way for the citizens to know what’s really going on in the community is to tell them what’s going on, give them the facts. Our community has intelligent people willing to support what needs to be done to get the job done. We have not educated our citizenry as to the needs,’’ he said.
When asked if the City Council is dysfunctional as a consultant described, Calvin said the council has the opportunity to start working as a team. Calvin said the “team’’ piece of the council is currently broken. He said differing opinions are fine and provide the opportunity to look at things differently. But Calvin said the council has two polarized sides on an issue.
“We need to work together, bring ‘team’ back into the City Council. And that starts from the mayor’s office providing that direction. Then bring team back into staff, and at that point the citizenry will accept what we are doing as long as we have open, transparent dealings and the community knows everything that is going on, not just what we want them to know,’’ he said.
When asked how council members should balance the advice of city staff and be a voice for citizens, Calvin said elected officials must be the voice of citizens. But the council hires staff with the expertise and staff needs to be listened to.
“If you have staff members that are not giving you accurate data, you should look for new staff members,’’ Calvin said.
“Regarding the removal of the overlay projects from the street improvement list, we should have a plan in place to reinsert those two streets that were removed so that they do not get to the point where they have to be reconstructed,’’ he continued.
“We need to listen to city staff and then have an option for the citizenry to have their input as well. Citizens’ input should direct what we do. Staff should support a policy that we have in place and the council must, must, must, must follow policy,’’ he said.
“You either follow policy or you change the policy. You don’t mix it up for staff because otherwise staff doesn’t know what the heck’s going on.’’
Calvin said Willmar has an excellent community. The industrial park is ripe for development, the new wastewater treatment plant has capacity for expanded development, and staff is dedicated.
“Our employees are committed to the future of our community and moving our community in the right direction,’’ said Calvin.