Two-man race for NY Mills Mayor

Two candidates seek the office of Mayor in New York Mills. The Herald posed the same four questions to Charles Fredley and Larry Hodgson. Their responses begin on this page and are continued on page A3.

Two candidates seek the office of Mayor in New York Mills. The Herald posed the same four questions to Charles Fredley and Larry Hodgson. Their responses begin on this page and are continued on page A3.

With no word of any write-in campaigns at this point, one of these two will be succeed Randy Clarksean as the next Mayor of New York Mills following the Nov. 7 election.

In the area of economic

development what does the city need to do to promote growth?

Fredley: First of all, the city council, the mayor and the citizens should define what the goals of the city are related to economic growth. The goals should include a diversity of industries, which would be environmentally friendly. The goals should be SMART. That is: a. Specific, b. Measurable, c. Achievable, d. Realistic, and e. Timely.


The city should become pro-active, inviting potential businesses by using billboards emphasizing the economic benefits of doing business in New York Mills. Advertising in journals and trade publications could be another way of attracting businesses. Citizens and the school could contact graduates of NYM, encouraging them to fulfill their career dreams by returning to NYM and investing in the city. Supporting existing businesses is vital for continued economic growth.

To encourage meaningful economic development requires the efforts of the whole community not only a council, mayor or economic developer.

Hodgson: After living in New York Mills for the past 32 years I have witnessed continual economic growth. Lunds was in the early stages of growth and expansion, and has continued to be one of the focal points of economic development for our community. Needless to say, we need the city and community to continue to support both this business and the spin-off employment opportunities that Lunds creates. It is imperative that the city of New York Mills continues to do whatever is needed to keep these business expansion opportunities productive and in our community.

Within the last few years New York Mills was designated as an area of Greater Minnesota that qualified for the JOBZ program. This Job Opportunity Building Zone was designed to stimulate rural economic development by providing tax relief to companies that either start up or expand in targeted areas of Minnesota. Areas selected were ready for business growth and had to have adequate infrastructure in place for business expansion. Having the foresight to have the required components in place to qualify for this program speaks highly of the quality work of our past administration. I feel that it is important to continue this type of attitude and diligence toward economic growth.

New York Mills has worked hard over the past several years to bring new businesses into the community. The development of our industrial park provided expansion opportunities for several businesses to become established, relocated, and productive. Now we have another opportunity to provide for growth as new properties will soon become available for additional business expansion. We are fortunate to have the services of an outstanding economic developer that has the experience to actively seek out new or established businesses wishing to locate into a community such as ours. It would be my intention to keep people of this quality on staff for our future benefit.

What do you feel at this time are the city's top priorities or objectives?

Fredley: I've been campaigning door to door, and as a result of many conversations, one of the top priorities of the city may be to improve communication between the city officials and the mayor. A number of people stated they only heard from the city when they received their utility and tax bills. Others stated city decisions did not reflect the opinions of the residents. There were complaints that city council meetings were held at times when many citizens were at their places of employment and unable to attend the meetings. Improved communication between citizens and the city appears to be a priority. Many home owners have been hit hard by increased taxes. Home owners with fixed incomes indicate they are frustrated by the costs of home ownership. Perhaps a moratorium prohibiting tax increases for a period of two years would alleviate some of the problem. The city could research alternative sources of revenue including expanding the tax base by increasing economic development, not taxes.

As a result of my discussions with many residents, there are reports of increased vandalism and little enforcement of curfews. Perhaps the city could improve in this area.


Hodgson: Anyone living in our community must assuredly be aware of the new waste water treatment facility expansion that is currently being implemented. This project is partly the result of community expansion and partly a necessary upgrading of our current facility. This project is going to cost in excess of four million dollars. As a result of this project we saw our utility rates approximately double. This assuredly had a financial impact on many families, but it is part of the infrastructure that is necessary to keep our community in compliance with State regulations. Hopefully new State monies will become available during the next term which will help our community when sudden unexpected

What, if any, concerns do you have with the city now, and what ideas would you bring to the table as mayor?

Fredley: My concerns, to date, are:

  • A need for improved communication between the city and its citizens.
  • Tax relief.
  • Enforcement of curfews for youths.
  • Increased number of programs for youth not involved in athletics.
  • A community commitment to economic development.
  • Specific community goals, social and economic, living up to the title of a "Star City".
  • Meeting the costs of needed city improvements in a cost effective, humane way.

As mayor, I would work with the city council and the community to address the above concerns. I would make myself available for several hours, one day per week, to meet with residents over a cup of coffee at a local site(s) to discuss issues and concerns of the citizens. I would inform the council of my findings and seek response.
I believe in the accountability of elected officials and would encourage the publication of council minutes, including who voted for what.

I would seek the limitation of the terms of elected officials to no more than eight years. This would encourage greater participation of citizens in their city government.

Hodgson: Being able to balance and maintain an adequate City budget has to be my first concern. Government monies have gradually shrunk as the State drastically cut Local Government Aid to our community. Our community struggled to find adequate funding to continue to operate in the usual manner. By not having a reserve of monies available to fund these needs we saw increased local taxes and utility assessments. I would strive to make the establishment of a capital reserve one of my priorities. Sure the money will have to come from taxes, but small yearly increases are much easier to adjust to rather than large one time assessments that negatively impact so many.

New York Mills has received recognition for their willingness to involve the community members in present and future planning. Here I am referring to the weekly Thursday morning meetings, which are open to the general public, being held in our public library. In attending these meeting I have witnessed some outstanding efforts from community members who have been willing to share ideas and give directions of how our community should continue to operate and grow. We need to see this community involvement continue.

Why do you want to be mayor?


Fredley: This is a time of change. Former leaders have left the community; this is a time for new leadership.

Someone recently stated this was a time for maintaining the "status quo". Based on the concerns voiced by our citizens, this is impossible. A city must be viable, must have a plan to meet with the growing needs of a community faced with serious economic and social challenges. If the community does not face and work to solve the problems it faces, it will become like some surrounding cities. Without a strong economy, a defined structure and sense of direction, good schools, adult support of youth activities, the city will not be able to attract and maintain citizens willing to invest in NYM.

A political figure recently stated, "don't write to your Congressman; run for Congress!"

I'm not writing to my mayor. I'm running for mayor!

Hodgson: I have to admit that I do not have "political" experience but I do have a record of leadership as I served terms as president and treasurer of the New York Mills Education Association. I was a member of the New York Mills volunteer fire department for 18 years where I was treasurer for 15 years, and I have served as secretary-treasurer for the Ottertail Rod and Gun Club.

As I said before, I have been a member of this community for 32 years. I came from a strong farming background where I believe I learned the meaning of hard work and attention to detail. I am goal oriented and I like to see things completed in an efficient and timely manner. I have witnessed a strong and dedicated leadership from our past mayors. I want those qualities to continue and I will assure the people of New York Mills that I will work hard and diligently to maintain those qualities.

A commercial airs on television where the coach of the FM RedHawks says affectionately that "this is my town" as he makes reference to Fargo. I feel the same way when I think of New York Mills, "This IS my town", and I am proud of our town. I want the people of our community to continue to be proud of our town. That is why I hope that the people of New York Mills will vote for me as mayor of New York Mills.

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