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Candidates run unopposed, discuss population concerns

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News Worthington,Minnesota 56187 http://www.dglobe.com/sites/all/themes/dglobe_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Candidates run unopposed, discuss population concerns
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- Three candidates ran unopposed Tuesday for Worthington City Council positions. Scott Nelson, who earned 1,930 votes, is an incumbent, and Diane Graber (3,222 votes) and Rod Sankey (1,244) are new to serve.

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Also running unopposed were the four District 518 school board members, all incumbents. Those include Brad Shaffer (3,675 votes), Linden Olson (3,578), Steve Schnieder (3,509) and Joel Lorenz (3,525).

City Council

Graber, who said she hopes to be a good spokesperson and develop a feel for the needs of the community to respond appropriately.

One of the bigger issues is how to deal with increased enrollment in area schools, she said.

"I don't know what role the city will play in that, but it's certainly important," Graber said.

Their pressing issues include "finishing of the event center and continued support of the Memorial Auditorium and YMCA," Graber said, adding there needs to be a plan for maintenance and long-term care.

Whether or not to build a new city pool is also a hot topic, she said.

Another of her goals is to sustain partnerships within the community, including schools, the YMCA and senior citizens.

"It's really difficult not to be active when you see the community is needing people to step up and do community service roles, whether that be school board or city council," Graber said.

"I think it's got a great future," Graber said of Worthington. "When other cities and towns are really struggling, this one continues to have a lot of construction and growth in schools."

School Board

Members are thankful district enrollment continues to grow, especially when state funding has been cut. However, more students mean additional space and resources are needed, they said.

"Our community has grown significantly in the last 20 years," said Schnieder, a 15-year veteran of the board. "If our community is growing, our education system needs to grow with it."

"We've had some difficult decisions to make, but I like being part of that process," said Shaffer, who's served on the board for five years. "I've spent (that time) getting up to speed; I'll use that knowledge to move forward."

The biggest priority is always to provide the best possible education, the members said, adding they need to work within financial and other limitations.

They agreed one of the biggest issues facing the district involves space limitations due to the population growth.

"It's going to be one of those hot-button issues that we will have to resolve at one point so we can start moving forward again," Shaffer said. "We're looking at different options to see what the best way to address that is, (but) we've not really made a decision as far as how to proceed."

He said class sizes should be kept low to "allow more personal quality time with each student."

Moving forward, Shaffer said he wants to sift through all available information to provide the best option for the district as a whole.

"We're trying to think outside the box (and) make sure the taxpayers have a voice and do what's best for all the stakeholders," Shaffer said.

"I've always been the type of person that likes to serve my community," Schnieder concurred. "Being on the school board gives me the opportunity to do that."

"We have a wide variety of opinions, which helps round out decisions," Schnieder said. "We have good conversations and move on once a decision is made.

"We have new families moving in every day," he continued. "The outlook is very strong."

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