In the first of our endorsements for the 2012 election cycle, I’m pleased to announce support for the re-election of Chaska Mayor Mark Windschitl.
When Windschitl first ran for the office, in the 2010 Special Election, I did not support him. (On a side note, I am very pleased that we will see the return of Windschitl’s opponent in that election, Jay Rohe, to the City Council. His voice will be a welcome addition to the Council.)
Windschitl’s 2010 Special Election campaign focused on his personal qualities and long history in Chaska to the exclusion of what agenda he wanted to pursue for the city.
That said, his performance since his election has exceeded my expectations. He has grown into the role and has overseen the long-awaited completion of the Downtown Master Plan. The city is in the midst of refreshing its plan for Southwest Chaska — another important effort. Windschitl’s support of these efforts has been important, and now we need to see him and the rest of the Council follow through to make sure city staff are executing the plan to the best of their abilities.
On the downside, many of the problems that have existed in Chaska for years and years are still there. Principally: communication. The city still does a lousy job of communicating basic information to its citizens. The city’s website is still a mess. Last month, the city passed its preliminary levy, setting the ceiling for property tax collections in 2013. There’s no link to the backup documentation on the front page of the website, nor on the Finance/Budget page. (If you want to find it, you need to read the staff report from that particular council meeting.) It shouldn’t be that hard to find basic information about a current, critical issue. It’s long past time for the Mayor, City Council and staff to stop making excuses and get with the program.
The city also continues to kick the budget can down the road, putting off hard decisions year after year, while patting itself on the back for “not raising taxes”, even though it’s increasing the property tax rate every year.
Windschitl’s opponent, attorney Richard Swanson, is an energetic proponent of downtown Chaska. While he provides a coherent explanation of the problems in downtown Chaska, he offers little in the way of actionable solutions or insight as to how his leadership would be different than Windschitl’s. As such, Swanson offers no compelling reason to displace Windschitl.
Windschitl’s experience and record lead us to believe that he is the best choice to move Chaska forward for the next two years. The city has the ball moving in the right direction, and Windschitl deserves the opportunity to keep things moving.
Below is the video from last week’s League of Women Voters candidate forum for the Chaska Mayor race, so you can evaluate Windschitl and Swanson for yourself.