Wednesday, September 09, 2009

At-Large candidate's discuss Duluth's future at Progressive Action's Duluth city forum

Dan Hartman and Becky Hall At-Large candidates.

Barb Olson, Charles Gessert and Jeff Anderson moderated the event.

At-Large candidates Beth Olson and Mike Akervik.

Tonight I attended the Progressive Action city council candidate forum. With 12 candidates running (actually only 10 were in attendance), it was hard to take notes as fast as the questions were asked and answered. The forum was held at the city council chambers and moderated by Barb Olson, Charles Gessert and Jeff Anderson. The evening started out with the At-Large candidates. Those candidates are: Beth Olson, Jim Stauber, Mike Akervik, Dan Hartman, and Becky Hall. Jim Stauber was unable to attend.

The main theme seemed to be what are the priorities of Duluth and how can the council get Duluth to achieve those priorities?

It seemed that all the candidates were concerned in getting the streets fixed, and restoring recreational programs and library hours and taking care of the parks. Becky Hall said those thinga are important, but that other growing new businesses need to be done before that.

Mike Averik said that the council needs to prioritize and get ahead of things so that it is not constantly in the reactive mode. He said that funding for streets, police and the fire department is a "no-brainer." Other things like recreation and a brand new police building are things the council needs to prioritize and study if it is needed right now.

On the question of having private companies manage city functions and selling off land like Park Point:

Becky Hall: Private entities can manage functions typically done by the city like the city water and gas. She would want to research it more. Would favor the sale of land on Park Point.

Beth Olson: Would not favor the sale of gas or water utility. This would cause problem later on. Not in favor of sale of Park Point land.

Dan Hartman: Thinks gas company has potential to bring money in. Not good to privatize it. Thinks Duluth should keep and protect Park Point.

Mike Akervik: Would favor the sale of Park Point, but thinks we should get away from the "rummage sale" approach to solving the city's financial problems. Thinks rate for gas and water might go up even further if privatized. Says public should be able to pay these bills online.

All candidates were asked which politician they most admired.

Dan Hartman: Benjamen Franklin because he was pragmatic. If something didn't work he looked for another way to solve the problem.

Mike Akervik: Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan because the both knew how to get things done. Also Paul Wellstone.

Beth Olson: Paul Wellstone because he understood people and engaged with people. Also you knew where he stood.

Becky Hall: Thomas Jefferson because he believed in the people and in liberty.


Becky Hall - Facebook page

Beth Olson

Mike Akervik - Facebook page

Dan Hartman

Jim Stauber

The candidate forum was carried live by KUMD radio (103.3 FM) and will rebroadcast at later dates. It was also carried by PACT-TV (Channel 7 on cable TV). For dates and times of those broadcasts, contact PACT-TV at (218) 723-3686.

Candidates in this year’s election are running for Second District, Fourth District, and At-Large City Council (two At-Large seats open). Twelve candidates are running for those four Council seats. They are Rob Wagner and Patrick Boyle for the Second District; Kerry Gauthier, Gordon Grant, Heath Hickok, Matt Potter, and Celia Scheer for the Fourth District; and Beth Olson, Jim Stauber, Mike Akervik, Dan Hartman, and Becky Hall for At-Large.

Progressive Action is a grassroots political organization formed in honor of Paul Wellstone to carry on his progressive goals. For more information, see