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Voter Guide: Cloquet City Council, Ward 5

Lyz Jaakola vs Dennis Painter

 

October 2, 2020

Dennis Painter

Background

I was born and raised in Cloquet. I am a proud 1995 CHS graduate, earned my AAS from FDLTCC and my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing from UWS. I am proudly employed at SAPPI, my children attend Cloquet Public Schools and my wife teaches at Washington School.

What made you decide to run for city council this year?

Cloquet is currently doing many great things, and I feel like we have the potential, the resources and the human capital to do so much more.

Funding infrastructure (streets, water, sewer) is a challenge. Where are our biggest needs and what do you think Cloquet should be doing to keep up with aging infrastructure?

City utilities and infrastructure are not glamorous topics, but they require constant attention so my fellow neighbors can continue to enjoy a smooth-running community. The city needs to continue concentrated efforts to repair and replace aging infrastructure, and it has a fiscal responsibility to employ the most efficient, cost-effective methods to maximize budgets and streamline schedules. Scheduling regular utility and tax assessment audits would prevent us from over assessing households or incurring large one-time increases.

What do you think are the top two issues facing the city and how would you go about tackling them?

Public Safety is at the forefront of the minds of all our citizens, whether it be from Covid or crime rates. We need to take the proper steps to ensure the safety of our citizens in our public settings. I believe the city has taken appropriate steps, in accordance with the state, to adapt well to the ever-changing environment surrounding Covid-19. I will continue to try to balance this with a commonsense approach of keeping the city open for business and maintaining the health and wellness of all citizens. As for public safety, I believe our current police force is doing a tremendous job showing a presence and willingness to work with community members to make this a safer and better community for all of us to live in and raise a family.

A second important issue is keeping local taxes in check for our citizens. I want to see us spend our money and maintain a budget as wisely as possible. A large portion of our community is living on a fixed income, and these neighbors should not be displaced because they can no longer afford to pay property taxes on homes they lived in for their entire lives.

Elaborate on something you think the current city council has handled well over the past two years.

The hiring of Police Chief Randall was one of the decisions I believe the city handled very well over the past two years. The previous decisions regarding this position led to much division in our community. I believe the current council took that into consideration and decided to help the community bond together with a promotion from within. I will add that some of his recent actions have reaffirmed this to be the right decision.

Why should people vote for you?

I want to represent this great city and its people, and to be your voice on the council. I take great pride in being a lifelong citizen. I will bring this pride to the council and would be honored to represent you, the people of Cloquet!

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Elizabeth “Lyz” Jaakola

Background

I’m an upstanding Cloquet resident whose family has deep Cloquet roots and strong branches. I am a 28-year teacher (master’s degree), a member of MSCF Union, a self-represented musician and cultural consultant for which I have traveled enough to recognize how blessed we are to live in Cloquet.

What made you decide to run for city council this year?

The events of 2020 demand that we examine our collective strengths and challenges in order to serve our city. Let’s build partnerships to build community.

Funding infrastructure (streets, water, sewer) is a challenge. Where are our biggest needs and what do you think Cloquet should be doing to keep up with aging infrastructure?

First, Cloquet should look closely at balancing the needs of citizens and industry to access and provide water, sewer service and adequate street repair. Second, there are a variety of governmental programs accessible to citizens and businesses of Cloquet which, if we seek partnerships, could help meet these needs. Lastly, communicating with neighboring townships and cities to find common needs we could find common solutions, employ local workers and share resources.

What do you think are the top two issues facing the city and how would you go about tackling them?

Public safety. City administration must continue to encourage an environment of transparency and cooperation between citizens and public safety officials. Cloquet can more effectively respond to the pandemic, drug trafficking, violence, theft, vandalism and stray animals to create a safer city with fresh perspective and creative solutions such as expanding neighborhood watch efforts and supporting citizen accessibility to healthy, constructive community building efforts and activities. Public safety is about more than just the police. Citizens should expect accountability, honesty and integrity from city and public safety officials.

Unity. There is strength in our differences. Cloquet has yet to maximize the opportunities within the diverse strengths of our citizens and institutions. Creative solutions remain to be teased out of the various opportunities, jurisdictions, regulations and relationships that would bring unity to our community. I am a creative thinker who looks outside the box for positive solutions. I appreciate the process of working on a winning compromise where all parties feel invested and valued. Vote for me and we will put our minds together to see what we can do.

Elaborate on something you think the current city council has handled well over the past two years.

I believe the difficult decision to address the issues in the police department has brought more confidence in the relationship between citizens and city officials. Hiring a new police chief from within the department was a smart move, as well. There is still work to do to “mend the fences,” of course, but I think the city council has initiated a positive direction with the way things were handled.

Why should people vote for you?

I am a productive citizen of the reservation, city, county, state, country and tribe. I work to help people understand governments, history and my fellow citizens. My 28-year career in education and music performance has prepared me to listen first, make informed decisions and represent with a strong voice.

 
 

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