By Sara Carlson, Alexandria mayor

This has been a year of unbelievable change, to say the least! As we move forward into fall, there are even more changes coming. We are looking at political races at the national, state and local level that will definitely have its effects on all of us. No matter what side of the fence you are on, make sure you vote and do your homework on the candidates so you can make the best decision for you.

In my position I have to be non-partisan to best represent the city and all its citizens. However, when doing my homework on the candidates – I have always tried to be clear on who I thought would best serve our country, state and our amazing community. It is so important right now for the city and county to work with our legislators as we move forward towards the end of this year. We are interested in a bonding bill and the distribution and timeline associated with the CARES Act dollars, hoping to infuse some money into businesses to keep them going.

Alexandria once again got an accolade, that being rated the #1 place to retire in Minnesota. A SmartAsset study showed that Alexandria edged out other cities because of taxes, medical facilities, recreational facilities and senior centers. We know Alexandria is a great place to live, work, play and retire – nice to have others notice! Speaking of taxes, our council and the budget committee have been working hard on next year’s budget, many long and important meetings to make sure we keep our taxes low and our services high.

Last week’s “In the Know” article was written by Chief Rick Wyffels who is retiring at the end of the month. Chief Wyffels has had an exemplary 37 year career in law enforcement. He has made and accomplished countless goals for our community and our PD, represented our state on the national level on the Criminal Justice Information Systems committee and been a role model for how to get along with everyone in our constituency, always going the extra mile. At a time when police, and policing in general, are under scrutiny, he has kept a positive profile for himself and our police officers in this community – which isn’t always easy. I’ve worked with Chief Rick for 17 of those 37 years as a council member and as mayor. I was on the committee that hired him as chief when Chuck Nettestad retired. He has been a brilliant leader and a responsive chief to our community. He will be missed in that position – but, is not leaving the area, he is starting a new journey. We wish him well on his new adventure and heartily thank him for his years of service! We are all better because he was here.

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Moving forward, we will now have a new chief of police Oct. 1. Again, I am proud to say I served on the committee with the Civil Service Commission to promote Scott Kent to be our new chief. He has an impressive resume and many years of service and noteworthy police training, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He has served as captain for 14 years with Chief Wyffels and has been an outstanding, professional leader in that role. He will bring his own style and enthusiasm for the position and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the Alexandria Police Department. I am confident he will put together a great team, set goals and keep the PD providing the superior service we now experience.

We all are anxious and apprehensive, wondering when we will get back to “normal.” Wondering if normal will ever look the same again. At the city, we are following protocols and doing our best to make sure that businesses can stay open and hoping schools can stay running.

I recently did a video presentation for the Northern Lights Boy Scouts group. I talked about one way to make a difference every day in this difficult time is to DO GOOD. Sometimes we forget that it is not the big moments in life that make a difference – it is the things you do everyday. One good action, one act of kindness a day – no matter how small, maybe it is a smile, a thank you, helping a neighbor or calling a friend or grandparent can make such a big difference. It not only makes someone else feel a little bit better, but it helps us, as well. We can show each other the kindness that gets lost in the day to day of politics and the uncertainty of COVID.

So as we enter this next season – let’s try and keep Alexandria the resilient place we know it is. We will get through this. Yes, we will talk about this for the rest of our lives and we won’t forget 2020. But, let’s renew our energy and make every day this fall a time for us all to DO GOOD.

Sara Carlson is the mayor of Alexandria. “In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.