BLUE EARTH - Les Wiborg has served on the Blue Earth City Council "off and on for 20 years," but Russ Erichsrud will try to put Wiborg "off" the council during the election this Tuesday.
Wiborg, the incumbent, and Erichsrud are running to represent Ward 2 on the council for a 4-year term.
"I like to help the citizens of Blue Earth with any problem they got and do the best I can with solving those problems," said Wiborg, who's lived in Blue Earth for 32 years and is retired, but drives part-time for Winnebago Manufacturing.
"I care a great deal for our community," said Erichsrud, who was "born and raised (in Blue Earth) and came back." He's been retired for about a year from Seneca Foods. "I have some time and I think I'd be a good candidate.
"One thing I've enjoyed is going door-to-door," Erichsrud said. "Getting quite the education. People are very informed."
Both men describe themselves as proactive.
"I just like getting things done," Wiborg said. "I just don't like to see money wasted; I'm too conservative. I like looking out for the little guy."
"I don't like to spend taxpayer money foolishly," Wiborg said. "That's why I was against the huge improvement at the airport. We just gotta quit spending so much money. Sixty percent of our population are senior citizens who won't get a raise on Social Security again.
"If we haven't got the money, don't buy it, don't bond for it, just live with it," Wiborg said.
Erichsrud said he is interested in giving back to the city: "I'm a problem-solver, good team player. I believe I possess a lot of common sense and a good work ethic."
The top issue in Erichsrud's mind is the budget and how it impacts the town.
"The council will have to chose projects carefully," he said, mentioning the lack of state and federal aid expected. "Streets and sewers, we have to continue heading in that direction. Like all small communities, we're hoping to attract businesses and more jobs."
The two men have different opinions on the future.
"Everybody would like to get a good major business that will employ a lot of people, but we're also looking for people for Main Street that will open up more stores," said Erichsrud, who thinks having an Economic Development Authority administrator would help "a whole lot, having someone help us to promote our city.
"We have a lot to offer in our city," Erichsrud said, "newer schools, hospital district, new police/fire department (building), airport renovations, and a new liquor store, which gives revenue to the city."
Wiborg sees things from a different view.
"We'd be lucky if we can keep the status quo," Wiborg said. "We lose about 10 percent of our population a year. It's a great place to live, good schools, good hospital, but you can't live on the wages here. People are dreaming if they think Blue Earth is going to grow. The $350,000 we're going to spend on the airport, look what we could do with some streets. You gotta face facts. Try to keep costs down."
Another difference in opinion is over the ward system, which is also on the ballot.
"Some people want to eliminate the ward system and I don't know why," Wiborg said. "I hope the people keep the ward system or they'll lose representation."
"Having wards and abolishing wards both have merit," said Erichsrud, then added "I'm going to vote against the ward system. I believe whoever gets elected will want to represent the whole city."