Mayors launch effort to hold governor candidates' 'feet to the fire' on city funding
Saying that the next governor will determine the fate of cities across the state, mayors announced at a State Capitol press conference that they are turning their attention to the 2010 governor's race and will be traveling the state to call on candidates to address local government aid (LGA).
"Minnesotans have had it. We are standing here today because our citizens are demanding answers. Our citizens are bearing the brunt of year after year of property tax increases and cuts to local police, fire, libraries, community pools, street maintenance and snow plowing," said Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden, who is also a spokesperson with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, an organization of nearly 80 outstate cities that is organizing the effort.
"If you are running for governor, Minnesotans want to know where you stand: will you uphold the state's commitment to strong, affordable cities, or will you continue to allow property taxes to skyrocket across the state?" Wolden asked.
The mayors announced that a major part of their effort will be traveling around the state to hold press conferences, meet local officials and play a two-minute issue ad about state cuts.
Specifically, they will be calling on Minnesotans to attend candidate debates, write letters to the editor and contact each campaign directly to find out where the candidates stand on LGA.
The ad, which the mayors played during the press conference, features clips of city officials explaining the loss of police officers due to aid cuts and families discussing how property tax increases have affected the affordability of their homes. The video also includes a clip of then-candidate Tim Pawlenty from the 2002 campaign trail stating that he understands cuts in LGA result in property tax increases.
"As the ad shows, candidates have promised us many things over the years. We are at a point now, however, when we need to inform our citizens of what they can take to the bank: either they brace for higher and higher property taxes and fewer services, or they can urge candidates for governor to commit to restoring local government aid," said Nancy Carroll, mayor of Park Rapids.