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Voter Guide: Thomson Township Supervisor, Seat C

Bill Gerard vs. John Bergman

 

October 2, 2020

Bill Gerard (incumbent)

Background

I've been an Esko resident for over 25 years, married 42 years, graduated four children from Esko, and have seven grandchildren. I bring 18 years of experience on the town board. I recently retired after 38 years with Potlatch/Sappi. I am loyal, hardworking, and dedicated to my principles.

What made you decide to run for township office this year?

Growing up, I watched my father as he served his community by actively participating in local politics, church and school. When I turned 18 he was there to make sure I was out to vote. Following that example, I have been committed to serving others similarly my whole adult life.

Thomson Township is growing. Do you think the township is on the right course or not? Explain. Whether our roots here go back generations or we are new to the area, we are a community that takes pride in our role as citizens.

Here are just a few accomplishments: the success of the business park, safe routes to schools trail, and upgrades at Northridge Park. I would like to continue my work with planting and beautification of trees within our township.

Thomson Township is in good hands because ultimately it is the people who decide the direction we will go. We will continue to work on our comprehensive plan and upgrade ordinances to include community input.

What do you think are the two biggest issues facing the township and how would you like to see them addressed?

Broadband access has been a major concern in the township for quite some time. The powerful FCC makes it extremely difficult to achieve widespread broadband without a huge expense. Thomson Township stands with much of rural America waiting for the federal government and Congress to do the right thing; to implement action and to pass it down to the state, county and finally the township level. We need to continue to reach out to those who have decision making power to bring affordable broadband to everyone.

Fiscal responsibility is very important to me. As the township grows, so do our working families and our senior population. I will represent everyone when I consider how we spend our tax dollars. When it comes to allocating funds; whether it’s a road grader, a fire truck or a new printer at the town office, spending wisely matters. We need to research, get multiple price quotes and when unsure call in outside experts to educate us.

Why should people vote for you?

I am honored to serve on our town board. I offer experience, am here to listen, answer questions, solve problems and will continue to grow and support our community.

*****

John Bergman

Background

Retired from 45-plus years of electronics/electrical technical manufacturing, test, and design; last 16 as voice and data networks engineer for St. Louis County. Native of Gary, lived here 24-plus years, active at St. Matthews. I’ve been pursuing “broadband” for township since 2014 with little cooperation from the board collectively.

What made you decide to run for township office this year?

Four of five board members have been on 20-plus years; it’s time for fresh perspective. The present board majority and staff are “stuck” at least a decade behind the realities of continuing growth and the fact that broadband has become a “de-facto” utility necessary for business and education.

Thomson Township is growing. Do you think the township is on the right course or not? Explain.

No, in that the present “2040” board-appointed committee is strongly influenced by active and direct board participation at their meetings; interested (unappointed) board members and staff should only observe – silently (and without “voting”), as attending “citizens” are required to do. The committee should be allowed to work without board influence; with the board taking action only when the committee makes recommendations. I understand board members wanting to honor the township’s Finnish history – that’s good! (My fraternal grandmother was “Laplander”!) But not to the extent of stifling other proper growth: We now have more “non-pioneer” families than “pioneering” families.

What do you think are the two biggest issues facing the township and how would you like to see them addressed?

Broadband is now a very essential part of living, with terrestrial service being totally inaccessible to several areas within the township. If we’re lucky, CenturyLink may continue to expand high-speed DSL services. However, only 80 percent coverage is the mandated government requirement. Some folks say “just use a cellphone hotspot” but those same areas have very poor cell coverage. The only presently practical way is to relax the “towers” part of the existing building ordinance to allow for “small” wi-fi-type terrestrial broadband access, as I have pursued with the town board since 2014 with no movement on their part until now – politically expedient for the “opposition” now!

Our population is now second only to Cloquet in Carlton County. We’re attracting more folks due to our schools, along with proximity to both Cloquet and Duluth/Superior. Some folks like the idea of moving “into the country” for rural life, but, after a year or so, start missing the more urban public services; others find the limited farming “next door” not to their liking because of dust, noise, odors, etc. The 2040 plan really needs to inform our “city” folks what to expect and balance township restrictions with the inevitable growth.

Why should people vote for you?

I have previous experience on several boards and committees outside this township, am retired with plenty of time for the board and issues research. I’m available for citizens to discuss their issues and ideas individually.

Editor's note: Find past opinion columns by John Bergman by searching his name on this website.

 
 

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