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Ward 3 Cloquet Council Candidate profile: Chris Swanson

Ward 3 Cloquet Council Candidate profile: Chris Swanson

PKN: Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

Swanson: I grew up and lived in this area of Cloquet most of my life. I've taught government classes at CHS since 2001. As a parent, resident and community member, I appreciate the importance of remaining level-headed under pressure, responsive to my fellow residents, and conscious of the public's trust.

PKN: What made you decide to run for Cloquet City Council?

Swanson: I've talked with students for years about active citizenship and the importance of service-oriented leadership, so the council vacancy and appointment back in July makes it possible for me to "walk the talk." We have much to be proud of here, and think I can help move Cloquet forward.

PKN: What do you think are the top two issues facing the city of Cloquet and how would you go about tackling those?

Swanson: Sustainable growth and the twin economic challenges of affordable housing and economic development continue to plague us. Let's incentivize long-term investment and attract and keep good-paying jobs. The truth is there are no simple solutions, many factors are beyond our control, and experimentation will be necessary. Barriers need to be exposed and overcome. I'm leery of easy answers; if it was easy, it would already be done. Socially, the same may be true. Many succumb to the numb of addiction: living on Facebook, the escapism of gaming, drug and alcohol abuse or simply staying inside instead of visiting face-to-face. Meaningful connections matter. Maybe we all need to take on the National Night Out, not just once a year, but regularly. Maybe we should borrow some sugar and then share a dessert over some coffee and conversation, get out and see what's happening at the library, take a stroll through a park or Pine Valley, watch a parade, cheer a team, or participate in a race: there are plenty. We're all in this together, we all belong, and with a little investment, some trust and concern, we'll all be better off over the long haul.

PKN: There are large possible expenditures on the horizon for Cloquet taxpayers in the next few years, including the recently approved library expansion, expensive updates to the hockey arenas, and a possible plan by the city for a $10 million public works facility. Then there's the new police study, which basically recommended the city hire more police officers, and the simple fact that spending always seems to go up. How would you prioritize any new spending?

Swanson: Regardless of who wins this seat, public safety and public works will continue to make up the majority of our city's expenditures and so must also remain the top priorities. Effective policing demands more than running short-staffed, and with recent departures, it's no surprise we'll need to hire soon. We're also obligated to maintain city assets, whether it be the well-worn streets and the pipes beneath, city parks, or the infrastructure of the arenas. All this new spending can be planned and budgeted. Living within our means, not particularly married to any one project or line-item, the council should regularly review the city's Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvement Plan for charting a course on any and all new spending.