There will be at least two new members of the Gaylord City Council in 2011. Three newcomers and one incumbent are among the candidates vying for three posts on the City Council.
Candidates include Jim Landaas, Shawn Losure, Susan Johnson-Schmitt and Jessica Uecker.
The terms of council members Brenda Pautsch, Pat Pinske and Jessica Uecker expire at the end of 2010. Pautsch is a candidate for Gaylord Mayor on the November 2nd ballot while Pinske is not seeking re-election.
Council members serve four-year terms. All four candidates recently responded to a questionnaire distributed by The Gaylord Hub. Summaries of their responses are printed below.
Public safety and fiscal responsibility. Those are among the major issues facing the City of Gaylord, according to Jim Landaas.
Landaas says the City has a strong police force, fire department and paramedic staff. He believes the City should not go backwards with its public safety but instead “build on the good that we have come to expect.”
Landaas also says Gaylord needs to avoid budget pitfalls that are facing other cities in our area due to cutbacks. He favors an “is it necessary” approach compared to an “it would be nice to have” approach. Landaas says the City needs to monitor its property tax situation so that it does not lose current or prospective residents and businesses to neighboring cities.
Keeping the public informed on all the facts and remaining true to the City Charter and City ordinances would also be goals for Landaas. He said it is up to City leadership to keep citizens informed so that they may voice an educated opinion. And if change is needed to a City policy, than it should be done only after careful consideration, Landaas explained.
Landaas believes his management background makes him a qualified candidate for City Council. He is currently employed as a production manager for Cambria Company in Le Sueur. Prior to that, Landaas was employed for eleven years at Michael Foods.
A native of Albert Lea, Landaas moved to Gaylord in 1992. He has three sons and is married to Julie Goetsch-Landaas.
Maintaining the quality of this community while looking towards the future. That is what Shawn Losure listed as one of the major issues facing the City of Gaylord.
According to Losure, the City needs to be visionary in regards to its population and future needs. She said this must be done with the challenge of budgetary issues.
Losure also listed public safety as a major issue facing Gaylord. She said the City must maintain the public safety and welfare of the community whether it is in regards to the police, ambulance or fire departments.
Losure says she is running for City Council because she would like to be part of the solution to issues facing Gaylord. Also, she wants to become more involved and informed on City government and the community.
An employee at Winthrop’s Good Samaritan Center, Losure believes her 29 years of experience in long term care will help her as a council member. Losure said long term care is always challenged with new state and federal guidelines. This requires continuous education and problem solving abilities as you deal with changes and budget cuts, Losure explained.
Losure was born in Gaylord and raised in Winthrop. She and husband Craig moved to Gaylord in 1997. Their daughter Morgan is a junior at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Susan Johnson-Schmitt says she is running for City Council because she is tired of her voice not being heard. If elected, she said she will do her best to make sure everyone is heard.
Johnson-Schmitt listed the economy as a major issue facing the City. Gaylord does need to grow, but we have to work together and try to find some common ground, Johnson-Schmitt explained. The City must not “bite off more than we can chew,” she said.
Common sense and the ability to look at more than one side of a situation. That is what Johnson-Schmitt listed as her qualification for being a City Council member candidate.
Johnson-Schmitt was raised in Gaylord. She said she moved back 15 years ago “for a better life for my family.” Johnson-Schmitt has been married to Gary Schmitt for ten years. She has two grown children and five grandchildren.
Seeking her second term on the City Council, Uecker said its been a privilege to represent the citizens of Gaylord. She is proud of the progress Gaylord has made the last four years and it has done so while keeping the City’s debt low.
Street improvements are something that Uecker would like to see continued. She said it will also be important to set aside money to keep streets maintained.
Uecker has learned that every issue is a major issue to someone in the community. When making a decision, she tries to do so based on what she feels is best for the entire community.
Uecker says her education has helped her with the financial part of City Council duties. In the end, all issues revolve around cost and where that money will come from, Uecker explained. Finding ways to provide services without raising the tax levy is always a challenge, she said.
An employee at Jerry’s Home Quality Foods in Gaylord, Uecker feels fortunate to both live and work in town. She has four school-aged children and is married to Scott Uecker.