Incumbent Dave Jacobsen and councilmember Mary Burg face off in mayoral race

In New Brighton, current City Council Member Mary Burg will challenge incumbent Mayor Dave Jacobsen in the Nov. 5 election.

Burg has served on the city council since January 2004, and is currently in the middle of her third term. She said she has considered running for mayor for years.

“I believe I’m really qualified and want to use my expertise and experience,” she said. “I would like to bring about more community engagement in city politics.”

Civic engagement has waned recently, Burg said, pointing out there are less people applying to serve on city committees, for example, because she says they do not feel appreciated.

Burg said it is also the mayor’s job to be personally engaged in all aspects of the community. She believes this is a second area that has been lacking in recent years.

“The reason I’m running is I believe in staying focused and engaged and I would like to see us as a city get back to that level of civic engagement,” the councilmember said. “ … I think it’s the mayor’s job to be connected with different organizations.”

As mayor, Burg said she would increase collaboration with different community organizations, such as government agencies, local schools, nonprofits, businesses and any other agency that has to do with the city.

She said the biggest challenge moving forward for New Brighton will be managing the budget by operating smarter -- finding new and improved ways of doing things and sharing services with neighboring communities to save costs.

“It’s been about six years of consecutively tight budgets. You want to provide the best services at the lowest cost and make sure you don’t lose any services,” she said.

She said the city should continue to focus on new opportunities for growth in areas like the New Brighton Exchange.

Jacobsen said he is seeking a third term as mayor because he wants to see the city continue to prosper.

“New Brighton is in the best financial position it’s ever been in,” the mayor said. “I don’t think there are a whole lot of cities right now that have built up reserves to nearly 48 percent.”

Jacobsen noted that the city has experienced a zero percent tax levy increase the past four years while he has been mayor and has paid off $2.4 million in debt this past year alone.

He said the city should enjoy a zero percent tax levy increase again in 2014, partially due to changes in the distribution of Local Government Aid (LGA). New Brighton did not receive any LGA funding in 2013, but will receive just over $493,000 in 2014. The mayor said the council will be looking to see how much, if not all could be used as tax relief for the city.

“I would like to see it all go back to residents in the form of property tax relief,” he said. “We still have to hammer out the details.”

Just days after a Bulletin interview with Jacobsen, the city approved its preliminary budget for 2014, which calls for a decrease in the city’s portion of property taxes collected by up to seven percent, due to the nearly half a million dollars in LGA funding the city will receive in the coming year. Jacobsen said a lot of governments are not adept at managing taxpayers’ money.

“It comes down to managing responsibly.”

Jacobsen touted the importance of having a leader with financial experience and an understanding of the importance of long range financial planning. He said he has the benefit of having over 38 years of financial management experience to draw upon.

The mayor added that he has the desire to make things better for a city that has been so good to him over the years. With the exception of military service, he said he has lived and worked in the area his whole life.

“I’m just passionate about seeing this city prosper. It wouldn’t happen without a great city manager, city staff and council. We work together, although we have our differences, we work together respectfully and challenge each other,” he said.

Terms for mayor in New Brighton are two years.

 Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

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