Government accountability, an informed public and vision for the city's growth are important issues for Ward 4 Brainerd City Council candidates.
At Tuesday's debate at Brainerd High School's Little Theatre, incumbent Frank Asplund, Mary Koep, Mark Turner and current Ward 3 council member Gary Scheeler gave their opinions on superstores, neighborhoods, the BMX track and the overall working of the city government.
Koep, Scheeler and Asplund agreed that the danger of superstores in Brainerd has been exaggerated. Koep said the city would send the wrong message to businesses if a moratorium on superstores were put in place. Scheeler said the argument is moot as superstores can already be found in Baxter. And while Asplund agreed a moratorium probably isn't necessary, or even if Brainerd has been approached by a company looking to locate such a store in the city, he didn't see the need to have one store that would replace the community stores.
Turner said Brainerd first has to protect its small, locally owned businesses.
All four candidates felt the public needs to be better informed about what city government is doing, and the city council members should be available to Brainerd residents. The candidates also agreed the BMX track in east Brainerd is an asset and the city should help track organizers in preserving it, either at its current site or at a new one.
While Koep and Turner noted the city council's lack of accountability -- Turner said the city's budget issues should be more public -- Asplund and Scheeler noted the positive direction the city has taken in the past four years.
All four candidates said the city's strength is in its residents and the council should protect them and utilize them.
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