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Meet the candidates running for Worthington Mayor

Three candidates are on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election

Election 2022 in United States
Election 2022 in United States
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Editor’s note: The following responses were edited for spelling. Also, candidates were limited to 150-word responses for each question. Longer responses were trimmed from the bottom up to adhere to the instructions. The responses are listed in the order they were received.

WORTHINGTON — After eight years, Worthington’s Mayor Mike Kuhle will leave office at the end of the year. Three local residents are now seeking your vote in the mayoral election on Nov. 8.

The Globe distributed questionnaires to each of the candidates, who include current councilman Chad Cummings, former Worthington fire chief Rick von Holdt and former Worthington councilman Rod Sankey.

Here are their responses.

Rod Sankey

Why are you seeking office? I Rod Sankey want to be the Mayor of Worthington because it is a great city in southwest Minnesota. I remember reading in my history book from school that Worthington, Mn is the Turkey Capital of the World. We still hold that honor, but time has changed many things about Worthington. As time goes on a person has to adjust to change, but over all some things remain the same.

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A change Worthington needs is growth. Housing is an absolute, Jobs are an absolute, and as Mayor that will be my top priority. Things don’t just happen, it takes leadership and a person willing to work to make it happen. I’m ready to do my part for Worthington.

“WORTHINGTON IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS”

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Sankey

What strategies would you advocate for to address workforce shortages? I'm not a scholar in the field of employment to advocate on the workforce shortages. What I will say is that over the years society has gradually changed to what can you do for me, instead of what can I do for you. Opening a business or applying for a job requires many hours of hard work and a desire to do better for oneself. Over the years a large part of our generations have lost their way to substance abuse and not wanting to do better for themself.

How do you intend to reach and serve Worthington’s diverse constituency? The diverse constituency isn't any different than 100 years ago or 50 years ago. I welcome their presents to Worthington. They have the same love for life as anyone else and should not be frowned upon because of their way of life. We are a nation of laws as any other country and our laws take precedence over their former country.

How should the city address child care needs in Worthington? The city of Worthington should provide the residence with electrical power, good streets, police and fire protection. Private enterprise laws have changed in the child care industry to protect your child. If you choose to have child care then you should be willing to pay the cost. Child care is a private business and if Worthington should help then then Worthington should help all other businesses. Do you see where this is going?

What role should the city have in spurring economic development, particularly in regard to supporting current or new amenities and businesses? As Mayor of Worthington I will be 100% in favor of economic development or supporting current and new amenities or businesses. THERE IS ONE CATCH and that is, it should be put to the residence of Worthington by electronic vote. The results then can be used by the city council to vote yes or no. I do not believe five council members should have the power to tax the people of Worthington without at least 50% plus 1 of the vote. How do you pick or choose who should get the help? Electronic vote can be done anytime of the year and not have to wait by putting the vote on a ballot.

What investments would you like to see made in Worthington’s future? The best amenity in Worthington is our lake. I would think to sane the lake of the destructive carp would be our best choice and to dredge the lake in the near future and have it stocked with fish on a regular basis. This list can go on and on, but it should be put to an electronic vote of the residence of Worthington.

Electric power supply during storms, so we don’t have to do a rotating power loss. Capstone Green Energy Corporation provides a microturbine technology to add to the old and nasty diesel generators.

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The next best thing would be to elect Rod Sankey as your Mayor of Worthington. I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army and went to Viet Nam and did my job, and now I am willing and able to do my job as your next Mayor of Worthington. I ask for your vote.

Rick von Holdt

Why are you seeking office? I was chosen to go to a Blandin Leadership Retreat back in 2014. At that time I was already Fire Chief for the City of Worthington. So I had been part of city government already. I have always liked the City of Worthington and have been in my eyes an ambassador for the city through the fire service having to represent the city in my trainings and teachings. I have been and led our Worthington Fire Department for 24 1/2 years in the right direction with training for our changing times after 9-11-2001. I feel I can add my positive attitude and new ideas to move Worthington in a forward direction.

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von Holdt
Fultz, Roberta

What strategies would you advocate for to address workforce shortages? That is a tough one. There are so many businesses that need people. Where did they all go? I think some/most retired from having more than one job. I see more help wanted signs than I ever have in business' due to ongoing advertising expense. I feel just keep getting the word out there, we’re still looking for help with some occasional advertising. Newspaper, radio they also have online ads. I know social media is out there as well. Word of mouth helping your friends, family or whomever. Some of their advertisements are not always listed or they are looking without posting. My thoughts are that if there are people on unemployment getting paid and are able to work, they could help out with any non-profit organizations, nursing homes, city park cleanups. Doesn't have to be much. Every little bit helps.

How do you intend to reach and serve Worthington’s diverse constituency? Working with some key people to get together and find out what we/they are missing with communication. I know we do have some language barriers that can slow the process down. We just need to get together and share our problems and work on them. I myself have visited some of the businesses that are owned/ran by our diverse community. I am curious what they offer. I am not classified as a shopper but will look anyways.

How should the city address child care needs in Worthington? I feel the assessment was the first step. I believe there are even some businesses that offer daycare as part of their workforce. If there is not, that would be a good start. I feel the state probably needs to address current daycares issues that makes it tough to start up a daycare. This will need to be monitored closer than it has been.

What role should the city have in spurring economic development, particularly in regard to supporting current or new amenities and businesses? Well, I have seen a lot of park updates with new bathrooms and splash pad, park benches, monument structures, art, music, JBS Field House which is an attraction everyone can enjoy. Bring people to town. I am also seeing that some downtown businesses are fixing up their storefronts, new fronts, new remodels which will hopefully attract new and old customers, new business. I know there are some people that have concerns about how the city spends money on amenities, if they don’t, who will? It has been in the years making that a lot of businesses closed and/or moved on mainly closed. I feel most of it is due to online shopping. We do have some very nice shops in Worthington that have some unique things to offer; check them out. With moving forward I am hoping to see what is out there to bring to Worthington business industry, retail and more.

What investments would you like to see made in Worthington’s future? I would like to see more business and industry to our workforce. I felt back when I was Fire Chief looking at a new fire station that would attract more business or growth of existing businesses. I know we had to do something with ongoing training that was required or necessary for our changing times. JBS was looking to expand shortly after looking at what our operating length was on our aerial ladder at the time 102 ft. I was anticipating that they were building an 8 to 10 story freezer warehouse none the less they did build an addition to their facility. Same with the growth of Bedford Industry. I could name some more businesses that have stood the test of time and are doing very well in Worthington. Hopefully there are state and local programs out there for new and existing businesses that would like to come to Worthington.

Chad Cummings

Why are you seeking office? I am seeking the office of Mayor because I simply love this town and my life here, and want to promote it. I feel like I can be a great voice of the people. I grew up here, graduated here, and never left and became very active in many civic and community organizations, and still am today. Many don’t realize the Mayor of Worthington only votes to break a tie, the council has the power. The Mayor opens discussions, keeps them flowing, promotes community activity, and is a spokesperson for the people as well as its Government. That’s where I excel, I’m a promoter. I’m also very versed in St. Paul, with many built relationships. I’ve lobbied for Worthington several times on issues, as well as for the State Broadcasters Association, those relationships open doors. This history and these skills are why I feel I can serve Worthington very well.

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Cummings

What strategies would you advocate for to address workforce shortages? After meeting several times with many employers here in town, it's clear to us that jobs are not the issue. We need people. It’s maybe hard to believe, Worthington is one of few outstate communities that have grown in the latest census. But we need more. What draws a person to a town? That's what we are working on. While many want better paying, more retail, new industry etc., those all require people to be successful. People make those things happen. People is what drives retail. Nice schools, healthcare, recreation, those are what make people want to live here. The reality of those things are, they all cost money. Housing needs land, we’ve done that so any contractor can build on new housing developments. Retail locations need to look fresh and up to date, we are currently offering facade grants and low interest loan programs. Industry, we have added new parcels.

How do you intend to reach and serve Worthington’s diverse constituency? Growing up here, in high school, our diverse population was comprised of a handful of students. As time went on, we have seen that flip completely. Being here this entire time, it’s become part of my everyday life. But it takes open minds, willingness to introduce yourself, and time to build relationships. I also have seen the hard parts of this from a personal perspective. I have three nieces who simply because of their heritage look different than me, but doesn’t define them. They did nothing to make life any different, so why should their heritage make it any different. I wish that were always the case. While life in Worthington doesn’t look the same, guess what, I still have to function in paying my bills, getting groceries, going to work, going out to eat, and at every single one of those things, they need people to make that work.

How should the city address child care needs in Worthington? We need legislative help statewide, as a business function, an investment in our futures. Infant care is the biggest. Toddler care isn't the problem right now, especially with more and more pre-K options at schools in Worthington and surrounding communities that has eased. But infant care is so difficult. The requirements for facilities, staff, and provider to client ratios are what make it tough, there is less opportunity to make it cash flow, and while we have some who do child care because they love it, they also need to make it flow.

I have lobbied in St Paul and will continue to do so to help with funding, requirement adaptations, basically whatever we can to address this shortage, not just here, but statewide.

What role should the city have in spurring economic development, particularly in regard to supporting current or new amenities and businesses? As I explained earlier, people drive economic growth. People go and stay in places with nice amenities, good health care, solid schools, and available housing. We saw a stagnant period here where those things just weren't keeping up. We saw it, felt it, and started to respond. Was it all as quick or as grand as one would hope, likely not. It’s part of the reason I ran for office. We have a running start now, we have many new housing lots. We have multifamily housing developers contacting us. We have new businesses opening. We have current business owners reinvesting and updating. We have sold several of our new housing lots already and have many more available. But we need to remember, adding those things takes money. The reality is … Worthington’s city taxes are in the bottom third of many communities our size, ones people say we should be like.

What investments would you like to see made in Worthington’s future? I hope to see more private and public partnerships in business and development. Oftentimes investing in our communities rather than taking that in ourselves gives back ten-fold. I gave up on giving up and went to work. If we give back to our community it comes back. It might not all come back, but the majority will. When we give to our families, we have better core relationships. When we give to our businesses, we sustain a place to shop, or services to utilize. When we give of ourselves, we build relationships, bonds, unity. And giving doesn’t always mean money. Give of ourselves in time, volunteer for a community function, run for office, join a board or organization. Give of your talents, maybe it’s your handy skills as a seamstress, your ability to organize, the trailer you use three times a year that could be a huge help to a church.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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