The upcoming election will be relatively uneventful in Hamburg, where only two candidates filed to fill three open seats.
Incumbent Mayor Richard Malz is unopposed this fall. Incumbent council members Larry Mueller and John Barnes did not file for reelection, and the only new candidate to file earlier this year was Richard Odoms.
Malz and Odoms answered a number of questions for the benefit of local voters below.
1. Why do you want to serve on the Hamburg City Council?
Malz: I would like to continue on the Hamburg City Council as Mayor. I feel the council has accomplished many tasks in the last few years, we still have some issues to address and I would like to be a part of these items to finish.
Odoms: I believe that after nearly seven decades of life’s experiences (which include nearly 20 years as a licensed police officer, six years as a firefighter in the United States Air Force as well as several years as an Emergency Medical Technician for an ambulance company previously based in St. Paul), as well as now being semi-retired, now is the perfect time to resume my public service to do what I can, in concert with the other members of the city council, to help the City of Hamburg continue to remain an excellent place to live.
2. What areas of the city budget need to be cut? Are there any areas that need additional funding? In what cases would you support a tax increase?
Malz: As for the Hamburg City budget, many items have already been trimmed to cut costs. Since the year 2009, the City of Hamburg has raised the tax levy only 1.5 percent, which indicated the city staff has already implemented some cost cutting ideas. As for additional funding, our city will have some street repairs coming up, along with other items, which sometimes are unforeseen. As for a tax increase, our city is currently able to provide the services needed with the funds available. To increase taxes there would have to be a major problem occurring, which would need additional funding. Otherwise I would not support any tax increase.
Odoms: I am of the belief that the entire annual budget for the City of Hamburg should be carefully, and continually, scrutinized. The current city council is in the process of setting its budget for 2013. I do not wish to second guess the current city council members in the setting of the city’s 2013 budget. I believe it is inappropriate for me to make a blanket statement regarding where budget cuts should be or where additional taxpayer dollars should be spent; I simply don’t have enough information to make an informed, prudent decision at this time.
That being said, I will always endorse any reasonable expenditure of taxpayer dollars for the ongoing support of Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services that affect the health, welfare and safety of Hamburg residents and their quality of life.
3. If elected, what will your top goal or priority be?
Malz: If elected, I would continue to work within our budget, provide the services our residents expect, all by staying within our city budget. Top goal or priority would be to continue improving our city streets, our I&I concerns and anything which is needed to keep our city efficient. Also keeping our current businesses in town and trying to attract new businesses in our town.
Odoms: I am concerned that the City of Hamburg (as verified by Carver County Taxpayer Services) has had the highest tax rate in ALL of Carver County for at least the past seven years. Getting our individual property taxes reduced will benefit every property owner in the city. That will be one of my major goals.
I propose to contact surrounding cities and communities that are facing the same budget constraints that the City of Hamburg is, to see if we can exchange ideas to help each other reduce our expenditures.
The City of Hamburg is not the only municipality that is facing dwindling state and federal subsidies. It seems to me that when a “think tank” of numerous local officials from surrounding communities all put our heads together, innovative cost saving ideas being implemented in one community can be implemented in, and benefit, our community.
Likewise, any of the unique plans that the City of Hamburg might have in place can also benefit our neighboring cities and communities. Everybody wins; especially the taxpayers, because of reduced spending. Reduce spending means reduced taxes.
4. With the Inflow and Infiltration Abatement Project compete, what is the most pressing issue now facing Hamburg? What would you do to address that issue?
Malz: Our city will continue to still inspect homes for incorrect water inflow into the city sewer system, as for what is the most pressing issue, probably repairing our streets as needed and general upkeep of our buildings. Also in the future a new water tower will probably be needed. Funding for these items will be sought through grants or low interest loans.
Odoms: Anything to reduce the amount of property taxes that Hamburg residents pay should be given top priority. We are a wonderful little town with good roads, nice parks, a well equipped fire department with a dedicated fire chief, Brad Droege, who sets the bar high for our well trained, dedicated firefighters. We also boast having one of Carver County’s (if not the state’s) top city clerks, Jeremy Gruenhagen. We also have a dedicated public works employee, Dennis Byerly, who tirelessly (and transparently) ensures that our parks are groomed, city sidewalks shoveled, our toilets flush and that our city is appealing to residents living here as well as to those simply driving through our town.
We need, somehow, to find a way to encourage businesses to look to Hamburg as their home so that the ‘tax burden’ isn’t so severe to individual families living here. New businesses locating in Hamburg will benefit all of us in the form of lowering our property taxes.
As I understand it, our biggest ‘drawback’ to having businesses locate in Hamburg, is that we don’t have our own sewage treatment facility; that limits the expansion of housing and commercial businesses that can be developed within the city. I would explore the possibility of obtaining state and federal grants to upgrade those areas and facilities that are currently inhibiting the growth of our fair city.
Why should voters consider you for the Hamburg City Council?
Malz: I would hope voters would support me for the position as Mayor of the City of Hamburg due to past years of service acting as a council member and now as mayor. I feel necessary items have already been taken care of in the city, along with items to be completed in the future.
Odoms: I will seek to increase citizen involvement and awareness of what’s taking place in our city at no expense to the taxpayers. (My personal website, www.deltadickshow.com is a prime example.) A city shouldn’t be controlled by four or five elected city officials; it should be representative of the wants and needs of all of its residents.
Being elected to public office is an honor with great responsibility. To show my sense of pride, honor, duty and dedication to my fellow residents, and to demonstrate my sincere dedication to reduce spending, I will return all remuneration for serving as a city council member.
Please tell us about your background and/or experience.
Malz: As for my background, have lived in the City of Hamburg since 1975. Married to my wife Sheila, while both raising three sons. I have served as a council person for 12 years previously and as mayor for the past four years. Retired from the Hamburg Fire Department after 30 years of service. We are members of Emanuel Lutheran Church here in rural Hamburg, also serving on various church organizations. Previous work experience in the automotive industry for 34-plus years and now working for our local road contractor.
Odoms: Retired Hennepin County Deputy Sheriff; attained the rank of Sergeant in both Communications and Warrant/Fugitive Divisions. Former dispatcher for Anoka County Public Safety, Minneapolis and the Minnesota State Patrol, and former EMT and Ambulance attendant / driver / dispatcher with numerous awards and commendations. Former U.S. Air Force firefighter. Current host/producer of “The Delta Dick Show,” an hour long program heard four times a week via the Internet featuring Old Time and Variety Music (visit http://www.hamburgminnesota.com/DELTAONDEMAND.HTML for more information.) Employed as a security officer at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel since 2006. For more information about my employment and experience, please go to http://www.deltadickshow.com/SomeInformationAboutMe.html.