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Ward 3 Cloquet Council Candidate profile: Uriah Wilkinson

 

November 1, 2019

Ward 3 Cloquet Council Candidate profile: Uriah Wilkinson

PKN: Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

Wilkinson: I have been a resident of Cloquet (with my five children) for 25-plus years, and have been working in the real estate industry for the past 15. I have served on the Cloquet Planning Commission for going on eight years as well as task forces including housing, transportation and zoning.

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

Wilkinson: This is an important time for Cloquet and not just because there will be a new city administrator and police chief but providing direction to address housing, infrastructure and economic opportunities. Our residents, particularly in Ward 3, face a property tax burden that is unequal to similar sized communities.

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

Wilkinson: Housing: A housing study was performed by a third party company around 6 years ago that highlighted where the City of Cloquet has needs. With 3 new units constructed, most of the shortage for rental housing has been addressed but there is still a need for single family dwellings as well as 55-plus housing. With the school district closing open enrollment, this demand is only going to increase. We as a city need to identify areas for this type of housing and look into building in the infrastructure to support such development.

Getting back to work: This is a community that has been marred with mistrust directed at the previous council and City employees. The new council has done a good job with transparency but a focus on getting back to work and moving past the problems of our past is indicative of the success to this Cities future. If there isn't a focus on the direction that I spoke previously about, it will only serve as a strain for each resident and missed opportunities for a successful future.

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?

Wilkinson: With an overage of 250,000 in the police budget we may ask ourselves, how did this happen? The truth is, the last police study had provided similar suggestions within this last decade. The overtime that was required to properly staff the protection of this city is the largest contributing factor to this overage. Now is not the time to short-hand our department. By adequately staffing the CPD and holding accountable the new police chief to work within the budget constraints will prove that these overages will not occur again.

Capitalizing on outside funding mechanisms to help bring down the shock of large bonding, to fund some of these projects has been utilized for the above mentioned and will continue to be in the future.

 
 

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