by Joni Astrup
Elk River Mayor John Dietz plans to run for re-election this fall.
Dietz made the announcement April 11, which was his 65th birthday.
“This will probably be the last time I run. If I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected for another term, I think that eight years is enough as the mayor. That position should turn over periodically,” he said.
Dietz was first elected to a four-year term as mayor in 2010, beating incumbent Mayor Stephanie Klinzing. Prior to that he served on the City Council for 16 years.
“The only thing I love more than Elk River is my family,” he said. “I grew up here and this community means an awful lot to me.”
His dad, George, had a grocery store in Elk River for 30 years and Dietz said the community has been very good to him and his family over the years. He sees public service as a way to give back.
He’s also grateful to his wife, Jayne, for her support of his work as mayor. They have two daughters, one son-in-law and a new granddaughter.
Dietz works as a controller at AME Red-E Mix in Elk River.
One of the things he’s focused on is volunteers.
Dietz initiated the city’s Volunteer of the Month recognition program and also suggested a new city program to recruit volunteers to help with city operations. That program is currently being coordinated by Dave Anderson, who also is a volunteer.
Dietz played a key role in another volunteer effort, making Elk River a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon city to help families of deployed soldiers.
He also pointed to Hockey Day Minnesota as a very successful event that involved many volunteers. Dietz served on the steering committee. He said he feels Hockey Day Minnesota was one of the best community events Elk River has ever had.
Regarding fulfillment of his campaign promises, Dietz pledged to make every attempt to respond to phone calls within 24 hours. With few exceptions, he said he’s stuck to that.
“You owe it to the citizens to listen to their concerns and I enjoy that part of the job. I feel that I’m a problem-solving-type guy,” he said. “I see phone calls concerning issues in Elk River as challenges — challenges for me to try to solve problems. And that’s a big part of what being the mayor is about, is to hear citizens’ concerns and deal with them as best you can.”
Dietz also had a goal to lower property taxes.
“I haven’t been successful in that, although I voted against all three budgets so far. I’m not criticizing the rest of the council, but I felt that we could have gone a little farther to reduce the tax burden on our citizens,” he said.
However, Dietz said the city is holding the line on its budget. Elk River’s general fund budget has increased less than 1.5 percent over the last three years, he said.
“I plan to continue to watch every nickel we spend,” he said.
He also believes it’s important for local governments to work together, in part because it can save money. Dietz said he works closely with Elk River Area School Superintendent Mark Bezek and Sherburne County Commissioner Bruce Anderson of Elk River.
On the issue of trains, Dietz continues to pursue quiet zones in Elk River to reduce train noise. The city has submitted a citywide quiet zone proposal that would cost about $400,000; he’s waiting to see if recent vehicle-train accidents will require the city to do more to establish quiet zones, boosting the cost.
About 60 trains a day go through Elk River, he said.
Other issues he sees facing the city are a costly mandate regarding management of stormwater and the need to attract more industry.
Dietz said he hopes citizens will want him to be mayor for another four years.
“I love serving the people of Elk River,” he said.
People interested in running for city office must file between May 20 and June 3. In addition to the mayor’s position, two seats on the City Council are up for election