Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle will not seek re-election
After eight years in office, the Worthington mayor is ready for something new.
WORTHINGTON — After sixteen years of service on the Worthington City Council — including the past eight years as mayor, Mike Kuhle will not seek reelection once his term expires at the end of December. A former city council member, Kuhle was elected mayor in 2014 .
“I’ve been in it for 16 years,” Kuhle said of his long career in politics. “Eight years as a city council member and eight years as mayor. I figure 16 years is plenty. It’s time for new blood, new ideas.”
Kuhle looks forward to retiring after leaving office and taking more time to travel and see his grandchildren. However, there are a few things he wants to check off his to-do list before December, including completing as many of the sales tax projects as possible and helping hammer out a plan to combat the city’s child care shortage.
“The challenge is providing child care options at an affordable price with the median income in Worthington,” Kuhle noted. “It’s a significant investment. So likely, we’re trying to look at ways to lower the costs for new child care places or existing child care.”
The city is exploring several different options on how best to do this, Kuhle said. They’ve looked at addressing the issue through regulation and public investment and considered providing real estate so a new child care operator can avoid some of the initial expenses that come with starting a new facility.
“It’s such a moving target,” Kuhle said, noting the numerous obstacles facing child care providers in terms of managing operating costs and contending with unconventional hours. “I think the affordability piece is probably the biggest challenge and how we deal with that.”
Another project Kuhle hopes to see advance before the end of his tenure as Mayor is with the recently created Southwest Minnesota Council of Mayors. The group began meeting about five months ago, and includes the cities of Luverne, Pipestone, Marshall, Jackson, Canby and Granite Falls.
“Our main objective is to enhance economic development in Southwest Minnesota,” Kuhle explained. “So we've come up with a program that we're asking the legislature to approve.”
In order to address the shortage of trained workers and what Kuhle refers to as the “exodus of our younger population,” the council of mayors has proposed a work program that would pay for two years of education in a targeted field, in exchange for participants working in southwest Minnesota for three years.
Similar programs exist in both Iowa and South Dakota, and the bill for the council of mayor’s pilot program was recently introduced in the Minnesota House. While still in the early legislative stages, Kuhle is hopeful that if all goes well, the program could be rolled out to other regions in the state. The council of mayors is enthusiastic about pushing the legislation through, and the effect it will have on their communities. It’s a lot to get done in the next few months, but Kuhle doesn’t seem deterred.
“The city is in pretty good hands,” he said.