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Matt Brenk

Three compete for DL mayor's job

News Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501 http://www.dl-online.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/5/0304/10-19mattbrenk.jpg?itok=UXntUB8n
Detroit Lakes Online
Three compete for DL mayor's job
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Three men are aiming for the head position in Detroit Lakes, that of mayor.

Alderman Matt Brenk, Jim Vareberg and Bob Renney are vying for the position.

Matt Brenk

Age: 55

Family: Married with five children, one granddaughter

Occupation: Real estate

Q: Why did you decide to run for mayor?

A: First of all, I really like Detroit Lakes because it's a great place to live, work and enjoy life. I have worked hard on the council to make our city the best it can be and I want to continue as a leader to take it to the next level.

Secondly, I have 18 years of experience in city government and the leadership skills that will be needed in the coming years, especially with the exciting development plans we have.

Finally, I have established a good rapport with my fellow council members over the years and because of that, I will be able to work effectively with them to find consensus. This will be a very important function for the new mayor as the council will face some real challenges over the next four years.

Q: Right now, the Highway 10 and the Gateway District are high priority. What are your feelings on the project, the funding, the proposed conference center, any development on the north end of Washington Avenue, etc.?

A: To me, the biggest issue facing Detroit Lakes in the coming years is the whole development and redevelopment of the city. The RDG group has prepared a great blueprint, one that addresses so many of the things that are important to the future of Detroit Lakes.

By finding ways to implement this plan over time, we can help retail, improve our parks and recreational facilities, improve traffic flow, boost West Lake Drive and North Washington Avenue and bring more people to visit and enjoy Detroit Lakes.

Some things will change, some things like the conference center may have to wait or get scratched if they don't make sense. Most importantly, we have to find ways to implement without creating a burden on the property tax payer.

Q: Annexation. The city spent a lot of money annexing the Long Lake Area. Has the city been too aggressive in annexation, or should it continue to move forward, with areas such as Willow Springs and Floyd Lake?

A: Yes, I think the city should continue to move forward on annexation.

As adjacent areas become urban or suburban in nature, it makes sense that they become part of the city. The city can do a much better job of providing essential services than the townships.

Sewer service and stormwater planning provides stewardship to our area lakes and streams. Annexation provides the city with additional tax base. Finally, annexation allows the city to plan for development.

Having said that, it takes time for the added tax base to catch up to the initial costs of annexation, so there becomes a limit on how quickly this can be done.

Q: Are there any topics you'd like to see the city council address in the near future?

A: There are a lot of other things going on in the city besides redevelopment and annexation. One of the things that is really important is to continue to expand and build new industrial park space.

We are currently working on doing some expansion in that area. It's important because it creates good paying jobs, jobs with benefits. People like to live in Detroit Lakes but they also need good jobs.

Industry and manufacturing jobs have been a huge part of our growth and have boosted housing, retail, infrastructure and recreational facilities.

I think Detroit Lakes is really doing a pretty good job in many areas. In the last 18 years I've seen incredible growth and improvement in our quality of life.

I think we're on the right track and if we stay the course, lots of good things will happen.

Jim Vareberg

Age: 48

Family: married with three sons, two step daughters, three grandchildren

Occupation: owns and operates welding and excavation companies

Q: Why did you decide to run for mayor?

A: I've been here most of my life and I like the community. I like the town, and I felt it needed a little bit of change. Also, it's a little of a community service type deal. You should get involved with your city sometime.

Q: Right now, the Highway 10 and the Gateway District are high priority. What are your feelings on the project, the funding, the proposed conference center, any development on the north end of Washington Avenue, etc.?

A: I was over at that meeting and saw what they did, I really liked it. It looked really impressive to be honest with you, but I have huge concerns on how it's going to be paid for and how long it's going to take and how much do you do at one time.

Basically, the state of our economy would revolve around how much we do. The convention center, personally, I don't feel we need one. We don't have near the tourism we used to, or near the people in town, but maybe down the road.

Leave that door open and look at it a bit, but other than that, the Highway 10 project worked out real nice as far as getting through, and the underpass was a big plus.

Q: Annexation. The city spent a lot of money annexing the Long Lake Area. Has the city been too aggressive in annexation, or should it continue to move forward, with areas such as Willow Springs and Floyd Lake?

A: I guess I'd have to be involved a little bit heavier in the city. You hear and see a lot of things, but until I see it in black and white, do we have too many open lots, did we go too far, I really don't know.

I guess that's one of the things you'd want to do -- get involved, and that's what I'm trying to do, see where we're at, a new look on it, a new perspective.

Q: Are there any topics you'd like to see the city council address in the near future?

A: Our tourism, I guess. That's a big thing. It always was ever since I was a kid here. I've seen that drastically go down in numbers. I see Walker and Park Rapids are still doing good, even though they have a lot of construction also going on. They seem to work around that.

I don't know for sure what we're doing wrong, but I would like to turn that around and make it more inviting.

I know that cleaning up our beach -- the weed problem we have down there is priority one. It is a beautiful beach and all, but I think it has really gone downhill in the last few years. That is something I'd look into.

Also, the Gateway District is something to be looked at and addressed and make that more inviting.

Bob Renney

Age: 57

Family: married with three grown children, seven grandchildren

Occupation: part-time retail sales at Ace Hardware, retired from the Navy

Q: Why did you decide to run for mayor?

A: I think we need a complete changeover on the whole council basically. I don't feel the citizens are really getting represented. It's just too much going on in town, and I don't think it's good for the town.

Q: Right now, the Highway 10 and the Gateway District are high priority. What are your feelings on the project, the funding, the proposed conference center, any development on the north end of Washington Avenue, etc.?

A: I kind of hope it's not too late to put the stops on a lot of that. Put on the brakes, slow down, find out what the citizens want, not just the 64 who took the survey or the few groups that sat down and decided what we needed. I think it's kind of ridiculous to bring somebody in out of town, like RDG, and tell us what we need.

Q: Annexation. The city spent a lot of money annexing the Long Lake Area. Has the city been too aggressive in annexation, or should it continue to move forward, with areas such as Willow Springs and Floyd Lake?

A: We need to slow down. It cost an arm and a leg out there (Long Lake). I realize they maybe used Liquor Store money to help with that, but still it was just too much money. We need to just slow up on some of that stuff, look at it real hard.

Q: Are there any topics you'd like to see the city council address in the near future?

A: Nothing new. We need to look at what's going on right now -- like $800,000 for a parking lot. That money could have been put to use. I guess we don't even have that money actually. The Food Pantry could have been stocked or taxes lowered, lots of things to do with that money. It doesn't even exist. It's something people in the future are going to have to pay for, and they don't have a vote on it. And basically neither did we.

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