BLUE EARTH - Chelsey Haase is challenging incumbent John Huisman for the First Ward seat on the Blue Earth City Council.
Running for council
"Government service is a privilege," Huisman said. "The democratic process was set up by our forefathers and it works when we do our jobs."
Huisman was appointed to the council in 2006 to fill out a term for someone who had moved away. Then he was elected to a four-year term.
He is seeking another term because there's "some things I've been working on that I'd like to see completed," he said.
"I strongly supported the street projects done over the last four years," Huisman said. "I felt the streets had been neglected for a number of years. We've got a good start, but it will take several more years to get it upgraded. I'd like to see those projects through."
Haase is running for office for the first time because she wants to build Blue Earth's future.
"The main reason I'm running is to help Blue Earth continue to grow, support businesses and bring in young families," she said. "To do that, we need good structure in the city and continue to develop new job opportunities, mainly jobs and industry in Blue Earth and make sure we offer things to do for families in Blue Earth, like the pool, which I think is really beneficial to have."
She also feels her presence will help the council.
"I want Blue Earth to be fairly represented. Currently, there are no females on the council," she said.
She said she respects the current council, but "I think I can bring a new perspective on a lot of things. I'm really passionate about having a strong school district, making sure families feel welcome and having opportunities in Blue Earth, not just a place to grow up and move on."
Haase's focus on young families is natural: She and husband Brent, a farmer, have a 3-year-old child and another on the way. Haase attends classes at Minnesota State University-Mankato and substitute teaches at Blue Earth Area and Granada-Huntley-East Chain.
Haase mentors with Blue Earth Area Mentors and is on the Parent Advisory Board at Little Giants Early Learning Center.
Huisman's concern for children stems from his former profession: He was the high school principal in Blue Earth for 25 years, and taught government and political science.
"My experience of having studied government in the classroom applies to what I'm using here at City Hall," he said.
He also keeps up with current developments in government by attending League of Minnesota Cities workshops, conference and training sessions.
Since his retirement, he keeps active in the community.
"I have great pride in the fact that I co-chaired the committee that raised funds for the new pool," he said.
Huisman has been active in Scouting for 10 years, Habitat for Humanity, on the Interfaith Caregivers board of directors, on St. Luke's board for 20 years total, served on Chamber of Commerce committees, and still keeps his hand in education by volunteering at the schools.
"I consider all these things a pleasure because I like to do them," he said.
Looking to the future
Huisman believes Blue Earth's future is tied to cooperating with the county and nearby cities.
"I think there's savings there; I know there's savings there," he said.
"The street committee has a five-year plan; I like that plan," he said.
Huisman is interested in economic development - "I like the move to an industrial park north of I-90," he said - and he wants more jobs.
"Jobs are important: family-supporting jobs, not minimum wage jobs," he stressed. "It's critical to help our economy. Stop the decline and see growth would be better.
"We need to do more in the area of youth," he said, mentioning Safe Routes to School, safe routes to the pool, the new Putnam Park shelter, more playground equipment, and another baseball/softball field.
Haase sees the future tied to many things.
"A lot of people are worried about the street construction and the cost to them," she said.
Another concern is "downtown business, empty buildings."
She would like to see more green space.
"One thing is a lack of parks in Blue Earth," Haase said. "We've got the pool, which is wonderful; other than that, there's nowhere for parents and grandparents to take the kids to play. That's something I'd like to see developed. It's a little thing that can mean a lot to a lot of people."