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Cloquet Ward 3 council election is Feb. 11

Find out more about candidates Uriah Wilkinson and Chris Swanson before you vote


February 7, 2020

The 2020 voting season starts Tuesday in Cloquet with a special election for the Ward 3 City Council seat vacated by Dakota Koski in July. Candidates Uriah Wilkinson and Chris Swanson are asking voters to elect them for a term effective through Dec. 31, 2022.

Find out more about each candidate in the Q&A section below.

The election is for residents of Ward 3 only, which lies between Highway 33 and 14th Street, and Doddridge Avenue and the St. Louis River in Cloquet.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the new Cloquet City Hall, 101 14th Street.

People may also vote absentee at the Carlton County Auditor’s Office on the second floor of the courthouse at 301 Walnut Avenue in Carlton from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10.

“These local elections are probably the most important in terms of how it affects us,” said election judge John Cavanaugh. There was a low voter turnout for the primary special election in November that narrowed the field of candidates from three to two.

Ward 3 candidates

UUriah Wilkinson

Q Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

A For more than 30 years I have lived in this community. I’ve grown up with the challenges that are shared with each of its citizens while doing my best to raise five children. My desire to help create a better and more prosperous place to live has been the motivation for my involvement in local politics for the better part of 20 years, while serving on the Planning Commission for the last eight.

Q What made you decide to run for Cloquet City Council?

A There has been a terrible disconnect between the citizens of Cloquet and their elected leaders — a trust that has been lost — which can only be mended with transparency and a deliberate, executable vision. With my experience and understanding, I feel I can help provide that stability and trust.

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

A Property taxes and revenue along with economic development.

Despite national statistics, the cost of living is increasing and this additional expense is creating a burden for every citizen in Cloquet. Wages have been stagnant for the past decade but our property taxes have been rising annually, at an alarming rate. My first focus would be to create consistent joint sessions with our governing partners to understand the needs/mandates of each, so that any future levy increase isn’t enforced without collaborative consideration.

There are multiple moving parts when discussing economic development. We immediately want to focus on new job creation but this cannot be achieved without first meeting the infrastructural needs to support it. Once that’s in place, we should begin a campaign to “Bring it back to Cloquet.” Forty-two percent of those who work in Cloquet live outside of Cloquet and it would be one of my highest priorities to entice them back to this community. This would mean that we also must have a focus on future, affordable, single-family and 55-plus developments.

Let’s increase property tax revenues to help ease the burden of existing businesses and homeowners.

Let’s increase population and traffic numbers that are essential to attract new businesses jobs.

Let’s increase investment within the community to help sustain and provide future growth.

Q What are two good things about Cloquet that you think the city should either work to preserve or enhance?

A Community Ed has done a wonderful job providing classes, programs and activities that make our small community unique. Pinehurst pool is one of a kind and more destinations like this one should be a focus. I have always been a proponent for any community activity that encourages families to participate together and interact with their neighbors. In a world of cell phones and evolving technology, we tend to forget the importance of face-to-face interaction and quality time spent as a family unit.

Wilderness Hockey has become a staple here since its inception. This organization has provided a viable economic contribution to local businesses and has really touched on one of the defining cultures that Cloquet embodies. I feel it is imperative to ensure the continued existence of this organization and make the necessary investments for its future.

Chris Swanson

Q Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

A I grew up and lived in the central part of Cloquet most of my life. I’ve taught government classes at CHS since 2001; and 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. (Of course, actively engaging on the council since my appointment to the vacant seat in July helps too.)

QWhat made you decide to run for Cloquet City Council?

AMy wife and I discussed my sincere desire to serve our community and show our children, my students and others what active citizenship and service-oriented leadership looks like. We have much to be proud of here, and I think I can help move Cloquet forward.

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

AWe need to continue seeking opportunities for a more diverse economic base. Service sector work has its place, but most people can’t or don’t want to work for the minimum wage their entire lives. Our collective future depends on decent-paying work in a variety of fields: finance, medicine, small business, construction, skilled trades, light and heavy industry, education and so on. The truth is there are few easy answers, and the city and our Economic Development Authority has been strategically allocating money over the years to spur investment and growth in the local economy. Let’s keep at it. Without growth, we’ll struggle to pay for new housing, assessments to improve our streets and the pipes beneath, or the parks and recreation we dearly love. Also, the related and wider concern I’m sure the other council members hear is the fear of ever-increasing taxes. We should continue to strategically plan for improvements and reign in the budget where we can. We should also partner with our fellow representatives on the School and County boards as well as with Fond du Lac on a sustainable and strategic vision across our overlapping jurisdictions. We can’t tax our people to prosperity nor can we starve our area of wages, maintenance or improvements. We need the best possible plans in place to steadily meet our needs and attract and keep the individuals and families who contribute so much to our community and way of life.

Q What are two good things about Cloquet that you think the city should either work to preserve or enhance?

A We have great people throughout our city staff and workforce. We should keep celebrating the wins and work together to fix what needs fixing. We can’t be afraid to handle the thorny issues as they arise, and to be honest, I haven’t met anyone working for the city in any capacity who wants turmoil and discord to be the norm.

As a teacher, I am particularly proud of our schools and the young people this community has raised and supported over the years. We need our best and brightest to keep investing their time, talent and treasure right here.

Our current successes and some of our challenges have been seeded by the generations of Cloquet citizens, businesses and industry that came before us. So let’s get it right, or as close as we can. It’s time to move forward together.


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