Monday, October 27, 2008

Ham Lake City Council Candidates Embracing Rural Character or City Utilities? Better Find Out Before Voting!


Four options on the ticket, two seats up for grabs, do you know enough about the candidates to make an educated decision on whom to vote for next Tuesday? To be honest with you, I did not until this past Saturday. A copy of Lakes and Loons arrived in our mailbox this week with information regarding our four choices. I know quite a bit about the incumbent, council member, Gary Kirkeide. He has never waivered in his dedication to maintaining the rural character in Ham Lake and keeping our taxes low while continuing to provide excellent services. It was a pleasure to have information on Tom Johnson published so that I knew more about him than previously. He outlined many of his policies in the paper. I personally like that he also wants to preserve our rural character.

I found out less about the other two candidates, Farrell Touhy and Tom Paulson. They chose not to answer the survey that was published in Lakes and Loons as the other two candidates had. This bothers me a bit as candidates in at any level of government should participate in all forums and types of media. How can we make a decision?

I decided to check online for additional information on the other two candidates and was pleased to find that all four candidates chose to participate in the
ABC Newspaper Voter Guide questionnaire. I read through all of four candidates’ answers and I am now better informed but I still have questions and concerns about Ham Lake.

It seems that there is a feeling by one of the candidates that there is dissention among the current council and that our community is unwilling to work together with each other and surrounding communities. Mr. Touhy states that we need to “partner with neighboring cities”. When did Ham Lake not partner with neighboring cities? Is this about East Bethel, the Met Council and city sewer and water again?

In reading Mr. Paulson’s answer to the city utilities question, I became more concerned and fear that we have not seen the last of the city sewer, water and dense housing proposals in Ham Lake. He states that the approved comprehensive plan was “a good start and our plan should be amended to address these issues”. What issues?
Our city council listened to its constituents earlier this year and voted 4-1 to approve a comprehensive plan that embraced our rural character, kept a 1 acre minimum lot requirement and opted to only use batch septic paid for by end users in the commercial areas. A 4-1 vote doesn’t sound like dissention. It sounds like a council that listened to the residents rather than the mayor.

Several things that affect our community and our pocketbooks could be readdressed in the coming year. One of the big concerns that I note is the “push by members of the Ham Lake Charter Commission to remove a rule in our city charter requiring a citizen vote on the issue of bonds for spending over $1 million”. If this rule is removed, the council would in essence be given a blank check to spend millions without citizen approval. Candidates Kirkeide and Johnson were adamant about preserving the rule. But the other two candidates were open to discussing changes on charter.

Ham Lakers I urge you to read carefully what all four candidates have written. These issues will affect our taxes and the future of Ham Lake. I urge all residents to become educated on the issues and candidates prior to making a choice on November 4th.

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