by Joni Astrup
It’s been 73 years since a hometown boy has been Elk River’s mayor, but that changed Monday night when John Dietz was sworn into office.
Dietz told the crowd at Elk River City Hall that the last mayor of Elk River who actually grew up in the city was Frank Nickerson, who was mayor in 1938.
“That may not mean much to you but it means a lot to me, being chosen to lead the city where I’ve spent nearly my entire life,” Dietz said.
He said he’s proud to be mayor and passionate about the city.
Dietz was sworn in as Elk River’s mayor on Monday, Jan. 3, during the first City Council meeting of the year.
City Clerk Tina Allard administered the oath of office as Dietz’s family and friends watched from the audience.
“I feel a lot of emotion right now as I stand before you as the new mayor of Elk River,” Dietz said after taking the oath. “I am proud to be the mayor of the community I love. I am humbled by the faith the citizens of Elk River have shown in me. I am nervous yet confident about the future of our great city and I am dedicated to the task at hand.”
Dietz was elected to a four-year term as mayor in November, defeating incumbent Mayor Stephanie Klinzing. He previously served on the Elk River City Council from 1991 to 2006.
He thanked his family members for their support, including his wife, Jayne and daughters, Stacey and Lindsey.
He also acknowledged his family’s deep roots in the area, noting that his dad, George Dietz, ran Elk River’s first supermarket for 30 years and his father-in-law, Dean Bailey, owned Bailey Feed Company for nearly as long.
“They were both very involved in the community,” Dietz said. “Maybe that knack for community involvement rubbed off on me.”
Dietz’s parents were at the meeting, watching their son take the oath of office from the front row in the audience.
John Dietz described Elk River as a vibrant community in an ideal location. He also said he’s extremely proud of the city’s park system.
However, he acknowledged that “not everything is rosy” and said it’s a tough time for all cities during this economic downturn.
He reiterated a goal he had stated during his campaign for mayor — to lower the city’s share of property taxes.
“That will not be an easy task but a worthwhile one,” he said. “Even the slightest of decreases is certainly better than any increase.”
He vowed to be responsive to citizens, pledging to return every phone call and e-mail within 24 hours.
He also apologized to every citizen of the city in advance.
“My sometimes brash, straightforward style will offend everyone at least once during the next four years. I don’t believe in beating around the bush,” he said.
He noted that he has great respect for the other four members of the city council — Paul Motin, Nick Zerwas, Matt Westgaard and Jerry Gumphrey — and believes they will all make a good team.
“With the help of the council, our excellent staff, the citizens of Elk River and the grace of God, we will move Elk River to be a better place for all of us,” Dietz said.