ST. ANSGAR | In his first time running for city council, Mike Juhl was elected to a four-year term which will begin on Jan. 1, 2018.
Juhl, who currently owns a landscaping company in St. Ansgar, worked for the city of St. Ansgar and was the municipal superintendent for 11 years.
“I mainly took care of streets and did all the digging, in addition to some water and sewer as well as moving snow,” Juhl said.
Juhl said decided to get involved with the political process and run for city council when he saw the way some of the things in town were being handled.
“It looks like we are going backwards instead of forwards,” Juhl said.
One of the issues catching his attention was the water project which has been taking place, in the community, for almost two years, which Juhl said has been a source of frustration to many residents.
“People are mad,” Juhl said. “They are frustrated at losing trees. People who have never had a water problem are coming home to find there are ditches in their yard.
“There is also a lack of communication between the city and homeowners, where people don’t know just what is going on.”
Juhl said the lack of communication has been called a source of irritation throughout the community, along with the condition of many of St. Ansgar’s roads, streets and ditches.
“The ditches are ugly,” Juhl said. “The people can’t maintain them. I’m hoping we can do some culverting, put some tubes in there to make them easier for the city and home owners.
“The main issue will be the costs associated with that and who would foot the bill.”
In addition to the issues of street, road and water conditions, one of Juhl’s concerns is the lack of rental housing in the city of St. Ansgar, which makes it increasingly more difficult for businesses to grow.
Juhl said the low rate of unemployment would mean the city would need an influx of individuals in order to fill any positions created; something that would be difficult when there is currently no place for people moving into the community to live.
“We need to look into aspects of affordability and building affordable rentals,” Juhl said. “Right now, there are no rentals in town. If there is a rental open, within a day it fills up. It’s crazy.”
“I knew a lot of people in town,” Juhl said. “So I went out and met those I didn’t know. I knocked on doors and talked to folks. There are a lot of unfair things that happen, it’s not the same for each person, and I’d like to keep it the same for everyone.
“Part of going out was to listen to folks and find out what their concerns were. Ditches and roads were what most of the people were unhappy about when I talked to them”
“Going out campaigning was a lot of fun,” Juhl said. “We had people call and ask for signs, we had people steal signs, and we had people run over signs.
Though he’s worked for the town for many years and understands a great deal of the work that has gone into maintaining aspects of the city, Juhl acknowledged there are still areas he has to learn about, including policies and procedures.
“There aren’t a lot of things that have moved forward in this town,” Juhl said. “We built a brand new school, which is great, but ditches are a thing of the past. Everyone wants to see their town grow in terms of business, their main street, and housing.
“We don’t want to see any of those things go. Right now, we have three buildings empty on main street. We need to do some kind of incentives. We have an economic development task force and a housing task force which are just beginning to grow, and I hope they continue to do so.”