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Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Brighton Mayor Steve Larson - A Weak Case for Re-Election

Mayor Steve Larson is asking the citizens of New Brighton to vote him into office for yet another term. Let's take a look at his campaign literature, which is a public summary of his qualifications for the job.

On the front side we have what looks to be his official city photo and request to "Re-elect" along with the following information to persuade us to vote for him:
  • Dedicated
  • Concerned
  • Positive
  • Team Member
  • Experienced
Hard hitting stuff indeed.

Dedicated? Yes, but to whom or to what?

Concerned? He certainly has reason to be...

Positive? Usually, but not always, a good thing (e.g. one doesn't want certain medical tests to come back "positive"). The expression "positive spin" often doesn't reflect well on politicians.

Team Member? OK...but for what team? Mayor Larson as we will see later can be said to be a member of several teams, some of which are not known for working in the interests of taxpayers and ordinary citizens. Keep in mind that team members are subject to be cut or retired...

Experienced? Yes, but with respect what criteria? Often used where "Longevity" would probably be more accurate.

Note that descriptors like "Effective" and "Successful" are conspicuously absent.

So much for the front side of the flyer. In any case, there are not a lot of compelling reasons to return Mr. Larson to office listed so far.

Perhaps Mayor Larson was just warming us up and saved the good stuff for the back page. Let's take a look:
  • Neighborhood Watch Captain: 4 years
  • Outstanding Young Man of America 1981 and 1983
  • President Minnesota JCI Senate 1987
  • Member New Brighton Jaycees: 12 years
  • Selected Jaycees International Senator #32987
  • Selected MN Jaycee Statesman #386
  • Selected US Jaycee Ambassador #991
  • Past President Rice Creek Home Owners Association
  • Webelos Leader Pack 106
  • Assistant Scoutmaster Boy Scout Troop 399
  • In-house and Traveling IBA Basketball Coach: 5 years
  • Irondale Basketball Association board member: 4 years
  • Mounds View Schools Volunteer 1983-2007
  • Mounds View North Parent 1985 and 1986
  • Human Rights Commission 1980-1981
  • Ramsey County League of Local Government Delegate 1988
  • AMM and LMC Delegate 1989-1990
  • EDC Member 1990, 1991, 2000-2007
  • Member American Legion #513: 3 years
  • Member Eagles Aerie #3718: 16 years
  • City Council Member: 12 year
  • Mayor: 8 years
  • Citizen Police Academy Graduate
  • CERT Trained
  • Metro Cities Board member: 7 years, Past President 2006
  • League of Minnesota Cities Board Member: 4 years
  • Cable Commission Board Member: 8 years, Chair 2006-2007
  • I35W Coalition Board Member
  • NLC Public Safety/Crime Prevention Steering Committee: 5 years
  • President North Metro Mayors Association: 2002-2006
  • State of Minnesota OSHA Review Board Member: 8 years
Wow! Mayor Larson is certainly a busy guy (and I thought my appointment calendar was tight)! He lists lots of activities and memberships, many of which are certainly commendable but have little or no relevancy to his performance as mayor.

The problem here is that New Brighton voters are going to decide who is going to lead the city through some potentially tough times (some largely of Mayor Larson's own making), not who should receive the "WCCO Good Neighbor" Award. I think most voters will stipulate that all of the candidates meet or exceed the character trait qualifications for the office and have an abundance of "good character" credentials of their own that rival Mayor Larson's (and may actually be more relevant with respect to qualifying for the job).

And that's all(!), folks, for what Mayor Larson deems relevant to making his case for re-election on his campaign literature. He makes no mention, good or bad, of the Northwest Quadrant, Marv's Transmission, Harry's Bar, the abundance of TIF districts, levy increases, eminent domain, etc. I wonder why not?

I'm sure the reason is that space on a flyer is limited so Mr. Larson had to use his judgment to prioritize what he thinks really matters to citizens when electing a mayor. There's not even a mention our fair city's perennial high ranking in the crucial "National Night Out" competition (no kidding, I am truly surprised as he usually brings this up if you wish him a "good morning"), so you know he had to really put a lot of thought into what is important to the voters.

All in all, the Mayor Larson's campaign piece doesn't make a real compelling case for his re-election. However, as innocuous as the content is, the flyer does raise several red flags that suggest that Mayor Larson is not the best candidate for the job...stay tuned for an upcoming post that navigates this sea of red flags.


Anonymous Merry said...

That certainly is Steve Larson's official city picture on his literature. I believe it is illegal, or at least unethical, to use an official photo in one's campaign literature. Too cheap to hire a photographer [at least with his own money!]?.

10/22/2007 5:24 PM  

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