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Jenny Berg’s notes on Wednesday night’s City Council forum were enlightening. Specifically, Question 4 asked what each person’s top 2-3 budget priority was.

According to Berg’s notes, Steve Laraway said “Laraway says the city should have a balanced budget. He would like to see focus put on economic development. Putting money into businesses can help with jobs, etc. He also wants to take a close look at affordable housing. The No. 1 item people talk about are the roads, he says. He’d like more money to go to roads.”

What a sloppy answer. The budget, by law, must balance. Next, I’m betting his constituents, of which I am one, don’t put affordable housing on their priorities list.

Liz Baklaich, who is challenging Laraway, said this:

Baklaich says she would like to do things more intelligently instead of just pulling more money out. She wants to focus on economic development, police, and infrastructure, which is good roads and parking. The latter two both impact economic development, she says. She says the city is losing businesses and residents. That affects all of us.

Notice that Baklaich recognizes that crime is a problem and that Laraway didn’t. That’s a problem for Laraway because crime is a problem, both in St. Cloud and in Ward 2.

Here’s what Masters said:

Masters says the city’s current budget puts an emphasis on roads – $18.4 million. Those partnerships, he says, like the Rotary working with the city for Summertime By George helps put money into the city for parks or other things. He wants to encourage more partnerships with private entities to get more bang for the buck. The city also has incentives like tax-increment financing to help development.

Here’s what Dr. Palmer said:

Palmer says the city has some of the highest crime rates in the nation and state. One way to do that, he says, is to have the city review how it is fighting crime. Preventing crime will attract people to the city. Maintaining roads and infrastructure is part of the city’s brand, too.

Notice again that the incumbent didn’t mention fighting crime but the challenger did. Why didn’t the incumbents notice? Why didn’t they speak to this issue? Clearly, St. Cloud has a crime problem.

This Election Day, I’ll be voting for Ms. Baklaich because she, unlike Mr. Laraway, has a firm grasp of reality.

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