Issues

Bob Enos Bob arrived in Willmar in 2008, accompanied by his disabled brother Michael (for whom he is the primary caregiver), and service dog Joni. The first thing people noticed about Bob was that he wasn’t from here. Maybe it was the swarthy complexion inherited from Portuguese ancestors, the Boston accent, or a New York City attitude he picked up during a decade in the Big Apple. Despite the wariness that Midwesterners show people from the East Coast, he’s won over Willmarites. (read more)

Opponent Fernando - Lost in the Weeds

My opponent, Fernando Alvarado, says he “wants to move downtown forward, to work with all the people and cultures who live and work in the downtown area.” On this point, Mr. Alvarado and I agree. He seems like a nice-enough fellow and a well-meaning guy. Unfortunately, my opponent is naive when it comes to getting things done in politics, and because of that, he has become an unwitting tool of the powerful special interests in...

read more

School Board Reform

Our Willmar Town meeting of October 26 revealed an astonishingly high level of frustration concerning the recent passage of a $52 million school bond referendum. The referendum itself was fraught with scheming and manipulation. Rather than holding the referendum during the current general election, whose likely record-setting voter turnout would undoubtedly reveal the true wishes of the people, the refendum was held as a one-off episode in a non-election period; the most likely scheme for...

read more

Government Transformation

The city of Willmar is dominated by business insiders, special interest groups, and non-profit organizations. The unelected Willmar 15. The worst-kept secret in Willmar. Willmar’s city council members are neither professional politicians nor government administrators, nor do they claim to be. They are simply private citizens with businesses and jobs, who essentially volunteer their time for their respective wards. What has occurred in Willmar, for many reasons, is that the city council has gradually relinquished...

read more

Refugee Resettlement

No subject provokes a more visceral, from-the-gut reaction from Willmarites than refugee resettlement. The program has transformed the cultural and financial landscape of Willmar more than any social phenomenon since the city’s founding in the 1880’s. The 2010 US Census reported about 2,000 Muslim Somalis lived in Willmar, roughly 10% of its population. Today, that number is closer to 5,000, or 25% of the city’s population, on a par with the Hispanic population. Since Willmar’s...

read more

Downtown Revitalization

Despite a handful of efforts to breathe life into the Old Downtown, it remains a neighborhood with an identity crisis. It has not been a “Downtown”, in the true sense of the word, for a very long time. All but one traditional retailer has gone out of business. It long ago lost the vitality and luster that old-time Willmarites remember. First Street is Willmar’s true thoroughfare now, the center of the city’s retail commerce, it’s...

read more

Housing, the living wage, and the economy

A group in Willmar – including my opponent, Fernando Alvarado – is pressing hard for more below-market rental housing in the city. The measure is promoted with politically-correct words like “workforce housing” or “affordable housing”, but make no mistake: it’s subsidized housing, and taxpayers will foot the bill. It’s not good for Willmar. In this newest scheme, the gifts go to real estate developers, with grants as high as $1 million and ten-year tax abatements....

read more

Local Sales Tax Referendum

On Election Day, Willmar’s voters will be asked to approve yet another new tax. This one, packaged and promoted by government bureaucrats and the Chamber of Commerce, is called the Local Option Sales Tax. Its stated purpose is to extract $10 million from shoppers doing their business in Willmar, regardless of where they live. The $10 million is to be spent on Swannson Field upgrades, refrigeration replacement at the Willmar Civic Center, and upgrades at...

read more

So who's the Willmar 4?

That’s the buzz making the rounds in Willmar lately. It’s everywhere. We’ve seen the mini-billboards at the KEC, at the Highway 71 ramp on Lakeland Avenue, to the east of the 1st Street railroad bridge near Foot Lake, and at El Tapatio on 1st Street. And then there’s those ubiquitous “No Willmar 4” stickers plastered on cars and public spaces all over town. We know what Willmar 4 is not. It is not a reference...

read more