BE Council chooses Kelly
The Blue Earth City Council chose Paula Kelly to fill an open council position last Monday night.
The four councilmen and mayor interviewed five candidates during their regular meeting, then voted 3-2 to have Kelly take the Ward 3 spot vacated by Rick Scholtes last month.
Councilman Glenn Gaylord and Mayor Rob Hammond cast the two dissenting votes.
Kelly was immediately sworn in by City Attorney David Frundt and took her place at the council table.
The council had received six letters of application to fill the position after Scholtes moved to Ward 1 and resigned.
One of the applicants, Todd Heenan, withdrew his name from consideration before the meeting.
The other applicants were Rhonda Gustafson, Gary Meyer, Dan Warner and John Gartzke.
Before the vote was taken Monday, council members expressed their candidate preference.
Councilman Dan Brod declined to name his top choice. Councilmen John Huisman and Les Wiborg both supported Kelly. Gaylord spoke in favor of choosing Dan Warner, while Mayor Hammond had Gartzke as his top choice.
Kelly told the council members during her interview that she is a 30-year resident of Blue Earth, and works full time as a nurse at United Hospital.
She says she has no city government experience, but has served on numerous committees at UHD over the past 30 years.
“I have always been interested in city government and decided this was the time to offer my service,” she told the council.
Kelly, and candidate Meyer, both ran against Scholtes in the past election.
Her interests in serving on the council include continuing to be proactive with street maintenance and repair, connecting and improving the parks, and working to get small businesses to move into Blue Earth.
“I have also noticed that the area on the east side of town, where a trailer park was, seems to be a beautiful area,” she says. “If Blue Earth is interested in investing in itself again, I think it should be there.”
Councilman Gaylord said he totally agreed with her.
Applicant Gartzke was the only one to tell the council he had experience serving as a city alderman in a town in Wisconsin.
“I served on several committees there, including the budget committee,” he told the council.
He also says he is pro-airport, and called it an asset to the community.
Gustafson told the council she has no civic experience, but thought she would provide some fresh ideas to the council.
“I would like to see more things for people to be active in, to get involved in the community,” she says. “We need to have activities for them to do, to keep them here.”
Meyer also says he has no experience, but that there are some changes he would like to see in the way the council runs the city.
“The city has to cut out spending money on things like new buildings,” Meyer says. “You are mortgaging our kids’ future.”
One area he would like to see the city spend money on is parks, however.
“We need our parks more public friendly,” he explains. “I would like to see the picnic shelter replaced at Putnam Park.”
Dan Warner, another life-long resident of Blue Earth, told the council he is interested in serving because there is a need to fill the open seat.
“I will keep on track with the efforts in the city,” he says. “Most of them have been positive.”
Warner says he served on the new pool committee, but ironically, does not use the pool himself.
“I am in support of whatever we can do for street improvement,” he says. “It is a big issue, even for economic development and for people to want to live here.”