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Ward 3 candidate column: CHRIS SWANSON

It’s been an honor serving Ward 3 since being appointed in July. I’ve had the privilege of visiting with city staff, various department heads, fire district personnel, police officers and acting chiefs, local leaders and, of course, the public. We have much to be proud of and I’m grateful for the insights gleaned along the way and their confidence.

I’ve taught government and history classes at Cloquet High School since 2001, have served on the Carlton County Historical Society Board, on my church board, and in various leadership roles for Education Minnesota- Cloquet, the teachers’ union, and for the United Transportation Union local during a brief stint as a railroad conductor.

Natalie and I have four children, two cats and a dog. We grew up here and feel fortunate to have our family in Cloquet. This is a great place to live and raise kids.

After work and on weekends, I’ve knocked on nearly half the doors in the ward and visited with as many constituents as possible. I’m continually impressed with how much people care about our reputation as a city and how concerned they are about the bread-and-butter issues affecting us all.

Most folks understand some change is likely when a new police chief comes on board. They’d like some relief from local taxes and maintaining city services at the current level. Many want street improvements, nothing outrageous or extravagant.

We are resilient, hardy people from across the political spectrum. What’s great, though, is that with a little time I’ve found we often agree more than we disagree about city business. One gentleman recently gave me the full brunt of his frustration over renters who weren’t being so neighborly, what seems like inaction on drug crimes nearby, and the fact we all pay more when leaves and grass clippings are blown into the street, clogging the sewer system and polluting water downstream. I heard him, loud and clear. He cares deeply about this town, about the people around him. And he cares about our future. I admire that, and I think by the time I left his driveway we understood each other.

I’ve subsequently brought some of those issues up with city staff. Community spirit and civic-mindedness should drive all of us to do better, be better, and move this city in a better direction. Your voices matter.

I’ve always done the best I can to disagree without being disagreeable, to remain level-headed when the tension gets high, and to pursue mutually acceptable resolutions whenever possible. Sometimes, people just aren’t going to agree, but we do better when we assume the best about others’ intentions, try to understand their positions and carefully explain our own — that takes time, building or maintaining relationships and trust. And it’s the kind of councilor I intend to be.

I’m humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement from friends, family and former students who have returned to Cloquet, the people who want to chat at the gas station, the young families starting out, the kids on Prospect that just wanted a selfie with me and to introduce me to their moms, the retirees who appreciate someone dropping by, and by the working men and women that answer their doors after another day of grinding it out.

It’s clear we’ve had some challenges in Cloquet, and my sincere hope is whoever finally wins the Ward 3 seat in February will continue to restore the trust and dignity to city government we’ve known and expect. I can help get us there and would appreciate your vote on Nov. 5.

Find out more about Chris Swanson’s campaign at chris swansoncampaign.com or @chris4cloquet on Facebook.