Q&A: Joe Gasior, Candidate for Council At-Large Representative

Next Tuesday, Aug. 14, voters will be asked to choose two of three candidates to move ahead to November's General Election.

Three candidates are vying for your support as an At-Large representative on the .

Next Tuesday, Aug. 14, voters will be asked to choose two candidates to move ahead to November's General Election.

The three candidates for At-Large representative are:

Patch asked candidates to respond to a series of questions. Below, you will find responses from Gasior. You can read Buckheit's  and Ludescher's .

On Thursday, we'll run responses from the four candidates seeking the  Council seat.

If you're interested in voting absentee, .

Joe Gasior

Age: 40
Family: I have been married to Betsy for nearly 18 years and we have two sons, Michael (16) and Timothy (13).
Education: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, minor in Business Administration from Marquette University. Master of Science in Engineering Management from Drexel University.
Occupation: Electrical Engineering Manager at MOM Brands (formerly Malt-O-Meal)
Political experience: Served on the Parks Board for the City of Waite Park, MN prior to moving to Northfield in 2003.

Why are you running for a seat on the Northfield City Council?

I am running for council because I feel that the residents of Northfield are looking for leadership that doesn’t just listen to them when it is convenient, but at all times. I also believe that residents are looking for someone who will make decisions based on the best interests of the city and not out of fear. I believe I am the candidate to offer that alternative.

What’s the most pressing issue facing Northfield and the City Council?

The most pressing issue facing the council going forward is the city’s fire services. We know that the fire station will continue to reside at its current location for the next several years, but the rest of the future is in flux. In the short-term, the city will need to determine how long they expect the fire department to remain in the current location and what that will mean with respect to continued upkeep for the facility. The long-term strategy for fire services as well as facilities needs to start being a serious part of the conversation. I believe, however, that as the city explores the option of partnering with other cities and local townships on services, it cannot ignore the plans for a future fire facility. What might this future facility be? Perhaps the facility is ultimately kept at its current location with renovations, as a part of the new police station, or as a new, but separate facility elsewhere in town. These options are all yet to be explored. However, what we cannot do is to let the decision, or even the discussion sit until after we determine what the future of fire service might look like. If the next council falls into that type of linear, one-topic-at-a-time thinking, the future of fire services and facilities is all but guaranteed to be a topic of much discussion during the next one, if not two election cycles. As a city, I believe we cannot afford to continue to push this topic onto the back burner.

What is something you think the current Council has done well?

The current council has been faced with some difficult budgeting decisions over the past couple of years. The loss of LGA along with the weak economy put a significant dent into what the city had available for spending. This, coupled with the fact that decisions from prior councils to defer maintenance started to catch up with us, set the stage for these difficult choices. The council, along with guidance from staff, did their best to address them.

What is something you think the current Council hasn’t done well?

Communication in general has been lacking on various topics. Let me be clear, there are many means that the council and individuals on council have at their disposal to communicate with the public. These means are being used. The problem is not the quantity; it is the quality of those communications. The council in the past year alone has missed several opportunities to bring the residents along with them and educate them on some of the bigger decisions that they were making. Though I don’t want this answer to become focused on the now passed funding for the safety center, it is one of those missed opportunities. The brief statement that was offered up after the initial outrage was lacking in detail and cursory at best. We have to do a better job of getting information into the hands of the public. In the end, it probably would not have changed the outcome of the council’s vote, but at the very least the public would have been better informed.

What would you have tried to do differently?

To pick a single issue to focus on doing differently is too much like Monday morning quarterbacking. For me, I would have approached communications differently. I think that the council needs work towards a more general dialogue with the public. Some like to use social media, some email, others in person to reach out to the public. Each of these has its merits, and should be used in some fashion. However, effective communication requires the use of several of the modes previously mentioned. The important thing is that if elected, I will be listening to the public more than I will be talking at them. When I do need to talk, I will make sure the quality of that conversation takes precedent over the need for sound bites.

Why should constituents vote for you in the Primary Election? What makes you a better choice than your opponents?

I believe I offer a clear alternative to the voters when compared to my opponents. If you are a voter who is looking for an alternative to the current representation on council, I am that individual. Also, I am not running primarily because of one issue or another that is facing the city at the moment. I recognize that the role is a four year commitment. The hot button issues of today will be behind us tomorrow and we'll be facing new challenges as time goes on. Should I be given the opportunity to serve the citizens of Northfield as the next at-large city councilor, I will work to provide the city with the representation that they need and deserve.

Anything else you would like to add?

This election, more than most in recent memory, presents the city and its citizens with an opportunity to create some change. This year, there is the potential for up to four new individuals to contribute to the direction of the city over the next four years. The vote coming up next week will help to set the stage for that final decision in November. I am ready, willing and able to serve you as your next at-large city councilor and I ask for your vote in the primary election on Tuesday, August 14th.

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