Election Guide: Michael Weinmann for City Council Member-at-Large

Published 10:48 am Friday, October 29, 2010

Michael Weinmann is the challenging candidate for City Council Member-at-Large

Q. If, as expected, the state reduces financial aid to cities, it might mean less money for Austin. What city programs or services would you recommend cutting to reduce Austin’s overall expenditures?
A. It is not responsible at this point in time for me to target programs without a more intensive examination of the consequences of such cuts and a thorough study of possible alternatives. The first step in this process is to examine any duplication of services and streamline current spending. If the state does not restore local government aid to previous levels, then we need a balanced approach to solving the budget issues facing Austin. Our strongest consideration must be targeted towards supporting our essential services (fire, police, schools, etc.). Economic recovery and future growth will come only through responsible investment in our infrastructure, our children, local businesses, and protecting the middle class.

Q. How do you plan to promote job creation and employment growth as a member of the city council?

A. I would personally get involved with an attempt to attract businesses to fill the current vacant buildings that exist in our city. We must do this responsibly and in a manner that does not detract from the revenues of existing businesses. With sustained growth we can revitalize the tax base that was lost with the departure of former businesses. I would vote in support of measures designed to entice new business and enhance current businesses if I felt that they carried a long-term outlook for economic growth in our community.

Q. The city council has been faulted for getting too involved in management of some city departments, specifically the police and fire departments. What do you think the council’s role should be in providing oversight of those and other city operations?
A. If these city departments are reporting to the council in an informative and consistent manner, then we should continue to let the process work. If, after careful consideration, we find the process is flawed or that departments are not forthcoming in necessary information, then we need to make minor adjustments to rectify the reporting process. I think the avenue that instills the greatest trust between the departments and the city council is to let the department heads govern as they were hired to do.

Email newsletter signup

Q. Austin was recently awarded a $5 million grant for flood mitigation. Other than the projects this grant will fund, do you have any ideas for future flood mitigation projects? If so, what are they?
A. I do not agree 100 percent with the solution that is currently in place. I feel that to place berms and retaining walls throughout the city is not necessarily the best solution.  Aside from being unsightly, these can endanger the floodwaters to back up at a different location.  We can protect the Main Street businesses without ignoring homeowners. One alternative is to strategically trench the rivers and East Side Lake measurably deeper and wider. This would have a two-fold benefit of creating a much greater holding area for the floodwaters, but also rid ourselves of the sludge and debris that have accumulated from long-term neglect.  With an incremental and sustainable plan, we can address flood control and at the same time, enhance our natural resources.  We could then promote tourism, businesses, and enjoyment by local residents towards the goal of creating “Southern Minnesota’s Cleanest Waters!”

Q. Why do you believe you are the best choice to represent Austin on the city council?
A. City politics is not an entity that exists solely at city hall. It is within each home, restaurant, and business of our community. I will listen to the ideas that come from informative conversations. I will not be a “green light” representative. I welcome debate from my fellow council members and input from my constituents. My vote will not be cast lightly. It will be representative of considerable forethought, and mindful of the economic implications. The guiding principle in my vote will be for the greater good of our citizens.