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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Council seats and Mayor's office contested in Arnolds Park

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Polls open at noon and close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 in Arnolds Park as residents consider a contested mayor's race and two city council seats. Current Arnolds Park Mayor Michael D. Mitchell is running against Len L. Rettinger. Incumbent City Council members Mike Koppert and Mitch Waters filed to retain their seats. Challengers Rick Reed and Matt Richter both filed to run for the two open city council seats.

ARNOLDS PARK MAYOR

MIKE MITCHELL

Mike Mitchell, 53, and his wife Jill have three children: Paige, Kelly and John. Mitchell has been mayor of Arnolds Park for the past 20 years. He is owner of Four Seasons Resort and the Dry Dock Lounge in Arnolds Park.

* What inspired you to seek this particular elected office?

As a lifelong resident of Arnolds Park, I think that community service is important. Also, I have a real passion for the continued success of our town. The privilege of working for the taxpayers of Arnolds Park has given me the opportunity to give something back to the town that I've grown up in and love so much.

* What main goal or goals would you like to accomplish for your constituents?

I have been fortunate to serve alongside many forward-thinking city council members and there have been considerable improvements made through the years. I am really proud of the way our town looks today and I want to continue with the investment in the city's infrastructure too. Also, it is of great significance that we have multiple, longtime city employees that are nearing retirement age and there are going to be some really big shoes to fill down the road. The importance of replacing these people with the most qualified applicants cannot be overstated. I welcome the opportunity to use my years of experience on the personnel committee to hire the best qualified city employees for the future. In my opinion, this is perhaps the biggest challenge facing our town.

* There's always a delicate balance between keeping taxpayer costs down, while maintaining a level of quality for constituents. How do you plan to balance those two needs?

I have been on the finance committee for most of the last twenty years and fiscal responsibility is a priority of mine. As a community, we have all seen our property valuations go through the roof. I strongly believe that, as the assessed property values increase, there should be a proportionate reduction in the tax levy when possible. When I was first elected mayor, the tax rate in Arnolds Park was around $10.50 per thousand dollars of valuation. After last year's reduction, we are now at $5.25 per thousand. Not many towns (if any) can claim that their tax levy is half of what it was twenty years ago. Think about it.

LEN L. RETTINGER III

Len L. Rettinger, 39, has filed to run for Arnolds Park Mayor. He is the single father of two children; Libbie, 11, and Ty, 8. He is owner and president of Rettinger LLC and Principal for Lakes Investment Group. Rettinger has 15 plus years of service as the District Sales Manager for the Northeast U.S. and Canada/Central territory with GOMACO Corporation in Ida Grove.

His previous elected positions include middle school class president.

* What inspired you to seek this particular elected office?

I relocated to Arnolds Park in the early spring of this past year and met numerous locals who welcomed me to the area and encouraged me to run. Based on the generous support of the community and my flexible work schedule being self-employed, I feel motivated to give back to the community that acclimated me to the area and strive to preserve the many assets within the town of Arnolds Park and the Lakes Region. I have quickly grown to appreciate the many local opportunities in business, recreation and not surprisingly local politics as well.

* What main goals or goals would you like to accomplish for your constituents?

Whomever is fortunate enough to reside in the office of mayor should have sound beliefs, morals and ethics, most importantly, an open mind toward community and individual concerns. Having not served in an office in Arnolds Park previously, I feel this opportunity allows me to contribute a fresh perspective towards our local challenges and prior accomplishments.

I feel we need to preserve and maintain the numerous attractions within Arnolds Park which continue to generate much-needed income to our local community via local business. While preserving the past, we as a community need a clear vision of where we see Arnolds Park in the future.

* There's always a delicate balance between keeping taxpayers costs down, while maintaing a level of quality for the constituents. How do you plan to balance those two needs?

This is a question that we all ask, including someone with ambitions to be mayor. Nobody wants to pay more than their fair share when it comes to taxes and that is why there needs to be a continued conservative plan to realistically sustain taxpayers' contributions to the community by maintaining and hopefully exceeding the present quality of life for constituents by governing efficiently.

There are multiple resources within this unique community which can be exercised to reduce the burden to the taxpayer. A concentrated effort to promote our numerous resources and attractions comes to mind initially as a means of generating supplemental income through encouraging potential business endeavors as well as relocating families and vacationers alike to invest in our community.

WIth expansion and development through local business, tourism and housing, we are seeing first hand some of the exciting developments in our future and its financial footprint to our continued success. Although not within the city limits of Arnolds Park, the nearby Polaris expansion and the hundreds of new jobs being implemented will certainly provide a boost for the entire Lakes Region economy. A new condominium in the Bridges Bay residential complex is expected to be completed sometime in 2014 and will be a welcome addition to the Arnolds Park housing community The addition of the wedding gazebo at Bridges Bay is yet another attraction sure to draw out of town guests to Arnolds Park and the limitless water activities the resort and natural lakes provide.

ARNOLDS PARK CITY COUNCIL

MIKE KOPPERT

Mike Koppert, 66, has been on the Arnolds Park City Council for 17 years. He is married to Rosalita and is a Vietnam Veteran. His previous occupation was a dock operator. He is currently the Abbie Gardner Cabin state site manager and has been for the last 26 years.

* What inspired you to seek this particular elected office?

I was attending a Arnolds Park City Council meeting as an interested citizen 17 years ago. A man was appointed to fill a vacated council seat without following correct procedures and I called for a special election and won. I remember Arnolds Park as a youngster back in the 50s -- a lot of corn-fields and woods right in town. I love our town, then and now. I pray to God for the strength to stand up to those that would do it harm or rip us off.

* What main goal or goals would you like to accomplish for your constituents?

Our council is diverse in political points of view but united as one in our devotion to Arnolds Park. We get along, respect each other, and don't call each other names. Dear voter, the best choice is to keep the council we have now, and not elect devisive council persons, we don't need it.

* There's always a delicate balance between keeping taxpayer costs down, while maintaining a level of quality for constituents. How do you plan to balance those two needs?

Our firefighters and policemen are our soldiers here in town. They are willing to "risk it all" to save our lives.They deserve the best equipment we can afford. We have a super library.

I don't agree that our town should give your tax money to charities. That should be up to you and not the council. There are exceptions, like the RIDES buses which benifit the handicapped and elderly.

MITCH WATTERS

Mitchell Watters, 56, is currently a member of the Arnolds Park City Council and city of Okoboji police officer. He has also been a small business owner, Deputy Sheriff, park ranger, and was Sheriff for Oceola County. Watters is married to Valerie and together they have a son, Alex, and a daughter, Breanna. In addition to Sheriff in Osecola County, he was also on the Ocheyedan City Council and is a current Arnolds Park City Council member.

* What inspired you to seek this particular elected office?

I have been involved in public service most of my adult life. I like being a part of the progress in my community and want to continue the improvements we have begun.

* What main goal or goals would you like to accomplish for your constituents?

My focus will always be, providing the residents of Arnolds Park with quality services at a fiscally responsible price. We need to continue to keep tourism alive and thriving not only in the city but throughout the entire corridor. I want to represent the citizens of Arnolds Park to the best of my ability.

* There's always a delicate balance between keeping taxpayer costs down, while maintaining a level of quality for constituents. How do you plan to balance those two needs?

I feel that we as a council have always sought out any grants or outside sources of funding that we are eligible for and have been quite successful at it. Whenever you can improve your community with money other than tax dollars it is a win-win situation. I believe it is important to live within our means and not take on more than we can responsibly afford. We have been able to consistently lower the tax asking and that is impressive in these economic times.

RICK REED

Rick Reed, 54, has spent 11 years in social work. He spent 1o years as owner and operator of R&R Vending, Inc., an Omaha-based small business that he and his partner created. Reed is in his eighth year as owner and operator of Parkside Cottages Resort in Arnolds Park. He has two grown children. His daughter is obtaining her doctorate degree in philosophy. His son is a certified financial analyst who is working on his master's degree in business administration. They are both polite, respectful, and focused.

The family chihuahua "Cheswick" is the "best dog in the world." The family cat "Rugs" is temperamental and enjoys outdoor exploration on a harness with leash.

His only past elected positions include high school class president for two years and a member of the high school student council for three years.

* What inspired you to seek this particular elected office?

A desire to "give something back" to a community that welcomed our family nine years ago, and which has supported our development of a sustainable small business.

* What main goal or goals would you like to accomplish for your constituents?

I intend to make myself available to constituents outside of the "normal" city council meeting calendar. Constituents will be able to contact me at reasonablerick1@gmail.com. I will do my utmost to provide answers to questions and concerns they may have.

Above all, I believe that each taxpayer deserves equal treatment, and that there is no room for favoritism in governmental decision making. I will work to ensure that each person's right to the peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property is protected.

* There's always a delicate balance between keeping taxpayer costs down, while maintaining a level of quality for constituents. How do you plan to balance those two needs?

First and foremost, I believe that the City should maintain a balanced budget. Expenditures, (disbursements) should not exceed income, (receipts), so taxpayers are not burdened with paying for debt the city is incurring. The ideal scenario would have the city operating with a budget surplus and wisely investing the surplus money with the aim of earning income.

The city receives money from a variety of sources such as property tax, sales tax, and licenses and permits. That money is used to fund city services and programs such as public safety and water and sewer. It is fair and equitable that each taxpayer pay his or her fair share as each is benefiting from the services.

To fund community and public improvement projects, the city should continuously investigate opportunities to obtain money through grant programs offered by the state and federal governments, instead of relying on direct taxation of it's citizenry to fund projects.

Discretionary expenditures by the city -- not mandatory such as road maintenance -- should always undergo the highest degree of scrutiny to determine if the expense will benefit the community as a whole.

Finally, I believe that it is prudent for the city to receive feedback from its' citizens regarding the quality of services being provided to them. Routine mail surveys in which the responder can remain anonymous is an option.

MATT RICHTER

Matt Richter, 33, is employed at The Three Sons in Milford. He is a 1998 graduate of Okoboji High School and graduated from Iowa State University in 2002. He was on the 8th grade student council at Okoboji Middle School. He is past president of the Milford Commercial Club and has served on the Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce Board. He is part of a "Close-knit" family in the Iowa Great Lakes.

* What inspired you to seek this particular elected office?

I have regularly attended city council meetings for the last two years. I was also fortunate enough to be appointed to the city of Arnolds Park Parks Board where we have a great vision for the future of "City Park" located by the water tower. I really look forward to the opportunity to serve the people of the city of Arnolds Park.

* What main goal or goals would you like to accomplish for your constituents?

I want to meet the needs of the Citizens of Arnolds Park while balancing the wants of our summertime guests. I want to keep taxes as low as possible. While serving on the park board and working on the City Park Board, with the help of Mayor Mike Mitchell and Ron Walker, we secured a $250,000 donation from Okoboji Tourism, and a $75,000 REAP grant to help renovate the park.

* There's always a delicate balance between keeping taxpayer costs down, while maintaining a level of quality for constituents. How do you plan to balance those two needs?

The number of homes in Arnolds Park doubled between 1980-2000. That number doubled again between 2000-2010. With the number of taxable homes in Arnolds Park growing at the rate it has, the tax asking per $1,000 was at $5.50, it is dropping to $5.25 per thousand, and headed for $4.95 per thousand. I also want to thank the phenomenal volunteers that give their time and energy to the fire department, EMTs, and Water Rescue. Your vote will be greatly appreciated Tuesday, Nov. 5. Thank You!



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