Council Ward 2 candidates want to give more to Willmar

WILLMAR -- The time is now for Willmar City Council candidates Christina Nelson and Vicki Davis to become more involved in the city they have decided to call home.


WILLMAR - The time is now for Willmar City Council candidates Christina Nelson and Vicki Davis to become more involved in the city they have decided to call home.

"I don't want to wake up one morning and realize it is too late," Nelson said, who wants to help make Willmar a town where her young children will want to raise their own families.

Davis, who, along with her husband, has owned the Goodness Coffee Shop for five and a half years, also wants to play a bigger role and the council has really interested her.

"I really love this town. I feel it is a rich community and I want to be a part of all of that," Davis said. "I think it is exciting, all of it. ... It is so much fun for me to see the community work together on stuff."

Nelson and Davis are running for the Ward 2 seat being left vacant by the retirement of longtime councilor Ron Christianson, who did not seek re-election.


Ward 2 approximately covers the southwest quarter of Willmar.

Both feel they have skills and understanding not currently represented on the council. As a small business owner, Davis said she knows firsthand how potential council action can affect Willmar's business community.

"I think that is important," Davis said. "From a business point of view, it is a little bit different."

Davis also has management skills tied to running the coffee shop, as well as being able to run a very large family with 11 children and four grandchildren.

Nelson, who is a working mother of two young children, thinks that is a personality missing on the current council.

"Young families have different needs," Nelson said.

She also has a degree in electrical engineering and has worked in web programming and development, which has required a lot of teamwork and project planning. Those are skills she feels will translate to the City Council table.

"City Council is a collaborative effort," Nelson said. "I really believe everyone on the City Council wants what is best for the city."


Housing is a priority for both. Davis recalled when her daughter and son-in-law, with their four children, moved back to Willmar. They couldn't find a rental property to fit their needs and budget in Willmar's tight housing market.

"Where do you go if you have a family? That really hit home when they couldn't find a place to live," Davis said.

Nelson would like the council to be more proactive on the housing and childcare front as well. As a council member she wants to actually speak with the people impacted by the issues.

"A City Council member is an advocate for the city," Nelson said. "That can mean using that influence to have conversations with local businesses, businesses outside of Willmar, state Legislature, (Congress). I need to be able to go there and speak up for Willmar and be able to say this is what we need. How can we work together."

Another issue close to Davis' heart is downtown Willmar. The Goodness has been located downtown since it opened and Davis loves the neighborhood. If elected, she wants to be an advocate for the area.

"I would like to see people to want to come downtown again. There is so much good stuff down here. The ethnic restaurants, the good people," Davis said, adding the negative stereotypes of the area don't accurately portray the area. "Talk positive about it. It needs to be loved again."

She also wants the City Hall to remain downtown. Discussions of a possible new City Hall have included the idea of moving city offices out of downtown.

"Downtown should be the heart of the city," Davis said. "It should represent our city, it should look majestic enough that people look 'wow, that looks nice.'"


The local option sales tax on the ballot is supported by both candidates, feeling it will add amenities to Willmar while freeing up city money for street and water projects.

"The hope is this will allow us to do both," Nelson said.

The budget will be important too.

"The budgeting will have to be planned out very carefully," Davis said. "As much as the streets are very important, so are the parks. We can't let those get run down."

Another priority of Nelson's is to help bridge the gap between the council and the community it serves. She has many ideas for that, including using Facebook and holding informal discussions in the community.

"There needs to be more of an effort made," Nelson said. "I am open to trying different things."

At the Goodness, Davis has hosted a wide range of community programs and events and said people are always stopping by and wanting to talk.

"I feel like everyone in the community is very valuable, every life. They should all be listened to equally and valued just as much," Davis said.


Davis and Nelson are also urging people to get involved.

"When you are involved, it is harder to complain. You are seeing how it runs and you understand a little more too," Davis said. "If you are a part of something, you feel a vested interest and you want to take care of it."

The more people involved, the more viewpoints and opinions that can be heard.

"All perspectives need to be heard and I respect all perspectives. We need to make sure we care for all," Nelson said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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