Stiehm: Austin has ‘a positive relationship’ with Gov. Walz

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm and City Administrator Craig Clark were among those who attended the inauguration of Tim Walz, Minnesota’s 41st governor, on Monday at the Fitzgerald Theater.

Stiehm said that he believes Walz, who represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past 12 years, will “set a new standard.”

“I’m non-partisan; I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but Walz has done such a good job for us over the years,” he said. “He’s reached out for us and worked with our staff on quite a few things. It’s been a positive relationship and I know he’d do just as good as job as governor.”

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During the election, Stiehm endorsed Walz in a letter to the Herald and made appearances on his behalf in the Twin Cities and Rochester.

Mayor Tom Stiehm attended the inauguration of Governor Tim Walz on Monday. Photo provided

“I always vote for the candidate that says, ‘I’m going to work with the other side; we’re going to work as one big team,’” he said. “His message is one cohesive Minnesota. Walz came to office the same time I became mayor, and in that time we’ve seen more division between rural and urban Minnesota. Hopefully he can make it work better. He used to be in the military, and when you’re in the military, it is all about teamwork and working together, and that seems to be his mantra. I know we have the only divided legislature in the country, and if we’re going to find ourselves in that position, we need somebody like Walz.”

After the inauguration, which Stiehm called “uplifting,” a reception was held. As Walz attempted to thank his supporters, his speech was interrupted by protesters against the construction of a replacement for the Line 3 pipeline.

“They wouldn’t let him talk,” Stiehm said. “The governor said, ‘The first thing I’ll do when we’re done here is meet with you and we’ll set something up.’ That wasn’t good enough for them and they kept on protesting.”

Later, Stiehm had his picture taken with Walz.

“When we took that picture, he said, ‘Mayor, I remember, local government aid. We’re going to make it healthy,’” he said.

With Walz in office, Stiehm said he hopes the good working relationship Austin had with him when he was in Congress will continue through his governorship, stressing the importance of having a governor from Greater Minnesota.

“He’ll be aware of our problems,” he said “He’s lived our issues.”

Stiehm also expects Walz to be more hands on than former Gov. Mark Dayton.

“With Dayton, his staff did everything,” he said. “We met with his staff over and over again.”

Although Walz is from Greater Minnesota, with an understanding of what effects rural Minnesota, Stiehm hopes the governor and his staff will turn to Austin for advice on issues if needed.

“That’s what you want, to stand out from the crowd of all the cities,” he said.