Thursday, June 1, 2023

West Concord candidates meet the voters

West Concord mayoral and city council candidates met the voters last week at a candidate forum sponsored by the West Concord American Legion Auxiliary.

Both mayoral candidates and five of the seven city council candidates were in attendance. 

Mayoral candidates are Mary Burt and Incumbent Jeffrey McCool. Seeking the two four year council terms are Kristen Bachman, Jeffery Burse, Ryan Fay, Heather Schandorff and Incumbent Carl Schollmeier.  Seeking to fill the remainder of a four-year term are Melonie Croney and Samuel Schollmeier. Fay and Croney did not attend the forum.

All candidates were asked to introduce themselves and then tell those in attendance why they are running for office, what their plans are for the future of the West Concord Police Department, what are their plans for the municipal liquor store and what are their goals for a better community.

Burt said she moved to West Concord in 1989 and has been very active in the community since then participating in a variety of events and activities including the Cardinal Club and Survival Days.

McCool said he has lived in the area his entire life, has been a member of the West Concord Fire Department, Historical Society and Cardinal Club. He works at the Mayo Clinic in support services.

Among the council candidates, Schandorff said she is a lifelong West Concord resident, a 1993 Triton High School graduate, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, has helped with Survival Days and is a senior project manager in Minneapolis. She has two children in the Triton school district, she said.

Carl Schollmeier said he moved to West Concord in 2012 because he likes small towns. He is an electrician and has two children, Hannah, 9 and Jeremiah, 20 months.

Bachman said she has lived in West Concord for three years and her husband is a West Concord native. She is an IT project manager for Olmsted County and has three children.

“I love the town and am invested in seeing it prosper,” she said.

Burse said he has lived in Minnesota for five years and moved to West Concord a year-and-a-half ago. He said he works at the Mayo Clinic and wants to give back to the community.

Samuel Schollmeier said he moved to West Concord in April and wants to become more involved in government. He said he came to the city from Rochester and he loves small towns.

When it came to why they were running for office, all agreed it was to give back to the community and see it prosper.

“I want to see the town grow,” said Burt, “or at least stay as it is.” She hopes to see more homes and businesses in the community.

McCool said that after eight years as mayor he would like to see some projects and initiatives through to their completion. The council has gotten a handle on the taxes, he said, and he also wants to see more growth.

“I like living in a small town,” said Schandorff. “It’s very friendly, everyone knows everyone. I want families with young kids to have a voice.”

Carl Schandorff said that after serving for a year as an appointed council member he is interested in continuing to learn about the town and what the citizens want.

Bachman said she believed she had a lot of attributes that would be helpful as a council member. She described herself as a team player, knowledge specific to transparency and financial experience.

“Growth is always good,” she said, adding the 10-year-plan adopted by the city is good.

“I really love this town,” Burse said, “and I want to work with the city.”

Samuel Schollmeier said he was interested in serving on the council and wanted to learn what he could to put back into the town.

Concerns about the Police Department revolved around a question of having to wait six hours after a break-in for an officer to arrive at the scene.

Schandorff, who said after a break-in at her home there was a six-hour wait for officers, said she didn’t know the best course of action but it is an issue that needs to be looked at.

Carl Schollmeier said that as a member of the Police Committee he was aware of stories about the department.

He said that as far as the wait time responses are coordinated through the county.

“We do need a good staff of officers,” he said, but also there is a question of affordability.

The city just needs to keep moving forward and trying to fix things, he said.

Bachman said that in reality she just did not have all the facts. 

“I don’t have the information to give a plan,” she said.

Burse said that in the time he has lived in West Concord he has not dealt with officers but a six-hour window for response is not acceptable.

Samuel Schollmeier also pointed out that officers are not on duty at all times and the city must also look at the financial aspects of the situation.

“As others have said,” said Burt, “I don’t have all the information.” But, she said, she would like the Police Department to have a more vested interest in the city.

“It seems like they are out of town a lot,” she added.

It’s an ongoing issue, said McCool, and the city needs to do a better job of education.

West Concord has a part time department, he said, and the Sheriff’s Office triages the calls

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