John Kastner, Zimmerman City Council
Family: Wife Kari Theisen, her daughter Lexi Wiemeri and son Austin Wiemeri
Occupation: Truck driver for Russell Delivery, Albertville, MN
Previous civic and community involvement: Zimmerman girls basketball announcer.
1. What prompted you to run for the Zimmerman City Council?
The degree of division the political arena has become a driving force. We’ve managed to elect party radicals on both sides of the aisle to the point where it’s mainstream to not only hate someone for their opposing political beliefs, but to seek damage to them as well.
2. What makes you qualified to be a member of the City Council?
I am qualified by meeting Zimmerman’s predetermined candidate rules and take issue with the wording of this question, because our constitution reads, ‘of the people, by the people and for the people,” no one needs more qualification to hold ANY elected government office than to be a semi sane citizen, which can garner enough public support, period.
3. What are the top three issues facing the City of Zimmerman?
1. Money. With the economy being the way it is, Zimmerman must plan and provide services in such a manner to remain an attractive and affordable community. 2. Money. Businesses have to be able to operate in such a manner that profits aren’t taken away, but re-invested. 3. Money. By over stepping services that private sector interests’ provide, we could reduce the budget.
4. What distinguishes you from your opponents and makes you a better choice for the position?
I have held not only an ear, but an eye on the current council for months. With the exception of Ron Mathison, not 1 of my opponents are ready to assume a seat on a council that represents 5,000 people with a budget of nearly 2 million dollars.
5. What decisions of the council have you liked, and which ones have you disliked?
I am a small government minded and pro private sector business kind of guy. I am pleased with the approach to maintain the aging infrastructure with simple paint when it came to simple aesthetics on a recent street project. I am very concerned, however, with the ever looming leachate project, as well as all fees and charges pertaining to our sewer and water department.
6. What are your thoughts on the groundswell of support for an auditorium in Zimmerman. What role should the city play in this endeavor. What role would you play in this endeavor.
If Zimmerman received a gift from private donors for such a project, my role would be to approve the building permit. I believe our schools are merely an annoying cousin to the Godfather that is district leader Elk River. I will not support any tax increase for anyone to fund such a project. School administration has been good at coercion to collect, but lacks production.
7. What should the city’s role be in improving transportation in the short-term and the long term.
Transportation is dictated by officials at the Metropolitan Council who are not elected and oversee public transportation. I would welcome a privately owned and operated taxi or regular route bus service and I will seek to get our fair portion of the already paid transit tax in our area.
8. What will your approach be to balancing the city’s budget. Under what conditions would you support a tax increase.
By making sure our necessary infrastructure is maintained at a certain level. There is a need for revenue to cover the expense. By eliminating overlapping and useless services we can reduce spending. Under NO circumstances will I support a tax increase, period.
9. What are the needs of the youth in Zimmerman, and what can be done about them?
Our youth need parents who can afford time to be home with them and encouraging them to be kids. There are numerous areas where all people of the city can congregate, thanks in large part to our parks committee. The problem is when the parents play a lesser role in their child’s lives, leaving the community to provide. Whether it’s in our streets, or God forbid, jail.
10. How would you assess the level of partnership between the City of Zimmerman and other governmental agencies. Do you see a need for more collaboration, and, if so, where?
I see an oblivion of government. What most people don’t realize is that elections have consequences and that any publicly funded program or project is tax payer money. Government is out of control and has reduced the role of the person to the point where most are numb to who their elected representative is. I see a need for an audit and reduction immediately!
11. What needs to be done to support economic development in the City of Zimmerman?
Stability in the infrastructure and budget to provide proof that fees and additional taxes won’t be levied upon existing folks are proven tactics that encourage growth. Zimmerman is already a great place to shop, work, learn and live and I will continue to support all of our community volunteers and shop locally, frequently, to gain the perspectives of my fellow taxpayer.
12. What would you like to be able to say about Zimmerman in 10 years that can’t be said now?
I want Zimmerman to remain sustainable, while being a small town, providing old fashioned country living. A destination, eliminating the stigma of being that little town between Princeton and Elk River. And I’d also like to say in ten years that I’ve served Zimmerman well.