AUSTIN, Minn. - With less than two weeks to Election Day, it's becoming increasingly important to know who is on your ballot and what they stand for. That’s why dozens of people spent their lunch hour Wednesday at the Eagles Club in Austin listening to candidates for Minnesota legislative districts and Austin City Council in a public forum.
Jeff Austin is running against Susan Fell Johnson for the at-large city council position.
They answered questions from the audience including why taxes are so high, how to address the current housing shortage and how to make the town more attractive to buyers and fix up dilapidated buildings.
“I think we need to work with the community to come up with some granting opportunities and outside funding opportunities and offer people incentives to fix up their existing homes,” says Fell Johnson.
“We've set aside $200,000 in the budget for next year for housing initiatives. I think we've been really proactive in this area with the rental housing. That's the first step we've taken because that's the low hanging fruit. We can go after those, recognize those properties and get those properties cleaned up and start there,” says Austin.
Austin currently serves as city councilman in the first ward. The two people hoping to take his vacated seat are Rebecca Waller and Jeff Arneson.
They answered the question, “When it comes to spending tax dollars, is it better to hire employees at the lowest possible wage or to attract quality employees with competitive wages and benefits?”
“The best way to use our tax dollars is to hire quality people and have those people stay in their position versus hiring low-quality people at the minimum rate we can do. Otherwise what we are doing is spending valuable resources on training people and then continuously training,” says Waller.
“I am a firm believer that we need to have in this state and this city a minimum wage of $15 per hour, a working wage. That is the key to keeping people here,” says Arneson.
In ward 2, Jason Baskin is running unopposed. Joyce Poshusta and Brian Heimer are going head to head in ward 3.
Also present at the forum, candidate for Minnesota State Representative District 27B, Jeanne Poppe. Her opponent, Christine Green did not participate. Candidates for Minnesota State Representative District 27A, Peggy Bennett and Terry Gjersvik also participated.
To hear from these candidates and more make sure to watch our Eye on Politics segment, Sunday nights at 10:00.