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The candidates for the Jan. 24 recall election recently sat down with the T-R to share some of their views. City commission candidate Dewey Magnuson's interview appears below.
Duane (Dewey) Magnuson
Occupation: Employed with Perkins, Inc., since 1991
Education: 1987 graduate of VCHS, 1988 NDSCS diploma in Parts Management.
Family: Wife Darci, children Abby and Max, parents LeRoy and Karen, and brother Scott (Debbie) Magnuson.
Organizatons: Joined VC Fire Department in 1993, currently a member of VC/Barnes County Rescue Squad, certified diver and first responder.
Why are you running? "The recall election, to me, was something where the citizens of Valley City made it clear they want change. I've wanted to be a commissioner for quite a few years; after watching what goes on at city hall, they sometimes push things through and don't make it clear to the public what they're doing. I want the citizens of Valley City to have knowledge of what's being discussed ahead of time."
If elected, what would you do differently from your predecessor (Ken Evenson)? "First of all, it's going to be a learning experience; I would walk in and see how he had done things, then see how things are handled on a day-to-day basis and start making changes from there. I don't know that there will be huge changes, just more efficiency in how things are run." Magnuson said he will use technology such as email, text messages and social media to get opinions from citizens.
What previous experience do you have with city government? "I've been around the city with the Fire Department the past 20 years; so I've seen it from a citizen's standpoint, I've seen it from the fire department standpoint and I've seen it from the inside. You have to be able to work with the department heads to get the resources they need to do their jobs well. If they need something, I will take it up the ladder to get them what they need."
"Working with the current administration, whoever that may be, they can bring me up to speed. I'm also looking forward to working with (new City Administrator) Dave Schelkopf. I think that's going to be a new, fresh start for the city."
What are the three biggest issues facing Valley City? "Not to beat a dead horse, but permanent flood protection is a necessity. We need to put a handle on it so we don't have to keep fighting the floods. They're moving in the right direction, but we need to ensure our safety.
Magnuson also wants to build a larger population base to spark economic development.
"Basically, to promote Valley City in a positive way that will help our community grow, not only with the business, but also attract new people. With new people comes more business in town, which in turn means better taxes."
Transparency and communication at City Hall was another big issue for Magnuson.
"There's a perception out there that city government is bad. It's not. The problem is that people are not given the knowledge ahead of time to fathom what's happening. You're (on the commission) to be the voice for 6,600 people, so what's best for that majority of the city is what you need to focus on."
How can you make Valley City a better place to live? "Adding fresh ideas to what we're already doing now is huge. Stop thinking and doing what we did 20 years ago and thinking that it still works, because it doesn't. With technology comes change and new improvements. You need to be on top of that and understand it."
How do you intend to move on from the contentious political climate of 2011? "The thing about it was that all the issues could've been solved in a lot better way. If there were problems, they should've been dealt with internally. There was no criminal acts, and to portray them to the general public was the wrong way to go about things."
Post-election, what kind of tone would you set with your colleagues at City Hall and your fellow citizens? "I would be there for a brighter, more positive future. I think that the citizens of Valley City have been hurt a lot, and they need to know that the city is there for them. We need to make the city grow, and go back to a place that everybody can be proud of again."
Regardless of the election outcome, do you think it will be a clean slate for Valley City? "Looking forward, we can't keep living in the past. We wipe the slate clean and we look forward to a positive start in 2012, and we move on from there."