By Sara Carlson, Alexandria mayor

When I decided not to run for mayor again, I thought 2020 would be a simple, uncomplicated year – lots of great things were in place and I would end my term with civility and straightforward leadership that would easily be accomplished and passed on to the next governing body.

Boy was I wrong! We all know now how 2020 has gone – so forget that. But, as mayor, you are often thrown a curveball – this was high and inside – the kind that scares you a little or in this case, a lot!

I had envisioned my last “In the Know” article would be filled with city accomplishments over the last 17 years with amusing and funny stories about being on the council and being mayor. Indeed there were many enjoyable times and many changes in our city that we are very proud of. I believe what is most important right now is to talk about where we are today and where we are going in view of the pandemic and uncertainty in our nation, state and city.

I have often said, “We have a great community and with collaboration we can get through anything – we have and we will.” We have a vigorous business and industrial community and this year it became a mission to protect, support and join forces. We have seen people do the most wonderful and amazing things to help people in this area – asking for nothing in return. From making meals and donating them, to making masks, taking time to help neighbors, friends and make sure they are safe. You know who you are and we thank you!

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A great thing about being mayor is having a platform to speak and therefore improve our region. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as president and board member of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. I also served on the League of Minnesota Cities Board. Representing Alexandria and bringing our opinions and issues to the state level has kept Alexandria important in the state and it means always being informed of what is happening.

I have lots of people to thank as I leave my position - the first one would be Ron, the First Dude, as we affectionately call him. Let me tell you – he has heard it all! He has continually supported all my work no matter how much time it took. I sure hope he will be thrilled to have me around a lot more! To my family and friends, also a little neglected – thanks for understanding and being there with me.

Marty Schultz, our extraordinary city administrator and all the staff at the city – they are too numerous to mention by name, but, what a wonderful team, continually working on improving themselves and the way we do business and handle services at the city. I will sincerely miss working with all of them and our councils, past and present.

Next year will bring lots of changes and of course, I hope one of them will be the eradication of COVID-19 and getting back to “normal” in some sense of the word. We have a great new mayor in Bobbie Osterberg who is coming on board with years of experience and the knowledge of how we are trying to move forward as a city. I am confident that the transition will be seamless and she will be excellent! The new council members have started their orientation and will be ready for the challenge.

We have a new Chief of Police, Scott Kent, ready and able to lead our police department. With the changes, he will be assembling his leadership team working on his vision and strategic planning for the future with the best interest of the city and policing in mind.

I want to thank Al Edenloff at the Echo Press and Tom Chorley from Voice of Alexandria for always reporting fairly and being willing to call to verify any information. That means you are getting accurate news. We are fortunate to have both of them as our long standing reporters. I think they know the issues as well as any of us.

Lastly, before I “adjourn” this term I want to say my most favorite thing has been working with everyone in this community and representing you and your concerns. I want to thank all the people in this awesome community. Many I have worked in close collaboration with to continue to advance this whole area, each one individually doing their job and coming together as a community to make what we call Alexandria.

Thank you all for your prayers, your support and your love of community.

Alexandria is in a great position to thrive and succeed. I know it is tough right now. However, I feel confident as I leave this position and know that we will come through this because all of you will do what it takes to be safe and be mindful of the safety and wellbeing of others.

Meeting adjourned! See you around town!

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