New Richmond Mayoral Candidate Profiles | News
Occupation: Retired after 41 years at the head of Family Fresh Pharmacy
Family: Wife, Susie, and son, Tim Zajkowski, and daughter, Wendi (Warren) Smallidge, and five grandchildren
Previous political functions: 28 years as a councilor for district 6 in New Richmond. Served on ambulance, fire advisory and park boards. The commission for public works, the airport, the commission for economic development and planning.
What is the main reason you decided to run for mayor? The main reason I am running for mayor is that I believe we are missing a great opportunity for economic development.
With our location 15 miles from Minnesota and the four-lane highway ending in New Richmond, I believe we need a new industrial park. Also, I want to see us finally have a new library that we’ve been working on for 20 years. I want to continue our healthy living initiative in our community with more emphasis on trails, trails and parks.
What mitigation measures regarding COVID-19 would you approve of, if any, in the future? I help people get vaccinated and get booster shots. I think they have been proven to prevent COVID and decrease hospitalizations and alleviate COVID symptoms. I also understand that some people feel they have freedom of choice.
What should be the city’s number one priority? Economic development should be our number one priority. Because of our location, I think we could get businesses moving or expanding to come here. We must have a ground ready for the gold shovel. This means we need land that has utilities up to the property.
When a company is looking for land to develop, they need a property now, not in 6 months or a year. This will increase our tax base, which will hopefully reduce the municipal share of property taxes. We are always in competition with other communities, but the immediate availability of land is a priority.
Have you ever held an elected position? To explain. I sat on the city council for 28 years. As stated above, I have served on many different committees. I feel that this commitment to the community has given me a vast knowledge of how local government works.
Hundreds of citizens marched peacefully for social justice through the city streets in 2020. How important is diversity and inclusion to the city’s success going forward? I believe diversity and inclusion starts in our schools. As we all know, New Richmond is the fastest growing city in St Croix County. The population is now over 11,000. We now have many families who come from the Twin Cities area.
I believe we have a welcoming community. I would say that 75% of the people who live in New Richmond were not born here. That’s why I believe we have a diverse community and are very accepting of people migrating here.
The city has just completed a housing study. How would you ensure that development opportunities include enough low-income housing to meet growing needs? To have affordable housing, we should probably work with developers to get incentives. There could possibly be a TIF residential area, which would reduce developer costs, which could make housing cheaper.
We will see more affordable housing in the Beebe Flats with 50 units for people aged 55 and over. This was accomplished by forming a TIF in which the city paid for the Beebe Building and to tear it down for approximately $500,000. The city will be reimbursed through the TIF so that taxpayers do not foot the bill.
We will go from a property worth $450,000 to a building worth $11 million. This is how affordable housing could work.
Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? I know for my part that there would be no problem because I present myself without opposition. I trust the integrity of the clerk and her staff.
In your opinion, what are the three values essential to the growth of a strong, welcoming and healthy community? The three values that I believe make us a strong and healthy welcoming community are first and foremost our educational system. We have one of the best school systems in the state of Wisconsin with superb modern facilities and also one of the best technical colleges in the country, Northwoods Technical College.
This brings us learning experiences for children from kindergarten to seniors. Second. A healthy life is very important. We are developing an excellent network of paths, trails and parks. Every year, with new developments, we widen our paths. We have several parks with soccer fields, pickle ball fields, tennis courts, youth soccer fields, a skateboard park and soon an 18 hole disc golf course.
We also have one of the best golf courses in western Wisconsin. Thirdly. safety in a community is very important. Our police force is highly respected and involved in our community. With all the negative events happening in the Twin Cities, many people are moving here to be in a safe and welcoming community.
What makes you or your skills unique from other applicants? I think my commitment to the community has always been one of my most important assets. If I see a need, I try to do it. I saw the need for a skatepark and raised $150,000 to make it happen.
We needed a new dashboard at the citizen field. Raised $30,000 to make it happen. We are currently working on an 18 hole disc golf course and have raised approximately $100,000. Now my commitment to the community is a new industrial park, library, and working with the VFW to make Freedom Park Center a reality for veterans, seniors, and the community.
Occupation: Freelance Maui Wowi Smoothies and Century 21 Realtor
Family: Wife (Patty Marson) 8 adult children, 2 dogs Dottie and Daphne
Previous political functions: Over four years on NR City Council 2013-2018
What is the main reason you decided to run for mayor? Giving the people of New Richmond a choice instead of just one candidate and using my experience as a small business owner to help serve the community. Fresh ideas, fresh perspectives and new ideas.
What mitigation measures regarding COVID-19 would you approve of, if any, in the future? Health services, both local and federal, should be listened to. But in the end, a person’s health is their responsibility and their choice and the government have nothing to do with it.
What should be the city’s number one priority? Difficult question because there are many. I’m thinking of controlling spending, lowering taxes where possible, and attracting more business both industrial and retail. Would be the top priority.
Have you ever held an elected position? To explain. Yes, in mid 2013 I was appointed to the New Richmond City Council and served until 2018.
Hundreds of citizens marched peacefully for social justice through the city streets in 2020. How important is diversity and inclusion to the city’s success going forward? Very important. It is necessary for any city or town for citizens to have a place to belong. There should be no reason why anyone who lives in New Richmond or is looking to live in New Richmond should feel unwelcome by city staff or its leaders.
The city has just completed a housing study. How would you ensure that development opportunities include enough low-income housing to meet growing needs? I think this would be another private/public project and you need to follow the overall plan and work closely with the planning commission and the community development department.
As in other communities in the state, there is also a great need for this in New Richmond. I would seek grants and low interest loans from various sources to ease the burden on citizens or at least ease it.
Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? I do not think so; however, since I am running as a write-in candidate, there could be issues with how voters write my name and how poll workers look at ballots.
According to the Election Day Handbook dated September 2020, it states that election officials and the Chief Election Inspector must determine the intention of voters, if the ballot is not correctly filled out. This can cause problems as another person tries to determine what the voter’s intention was when they voted.
In your opinion, what are the three values essential to the growth of a strong, welcoming and healthy community?
1) Assume your responsibilities
3) Communication / Transparency
9. What makes you or your skills unique from other applicants?
I think I have the ability to hear and understand both sides of an issue(s). I got that from all my years in law enforcement.
I have been involved in local government since 2010 as a volunteer on many committees such as Police and Fire, Park Board, New Richmond Housing Authority.
After leaving the board, I was appointed to the planning commission, where I still sit, and to the ethics committee. I try to keep up to date with what’s going on in the community. Also, as a small business owner of two companies, I have budget and time constraints. I use common sense to think things through and solve problems.