Four City Council members who are up for re-election in June are determined to continue moving the city of Mitchell forward together, as each of them are seeking to serve another three-year term.
According to Mitchell City Finance Officer Michelle Bathke, all four City Council seats that are up for re-election are unopposed as of Monday. That means if no other city residents in their respective wards collect 50 signatures from the voters in that ward by the March 31 filing deadline, all four council members will automatically win their seat back. The election is slated for June 2. While each council member seeking re-election brings a unique background of experience, a common goal among them is improving Lake Mitchell.
After 13 years of serving as the city councilman for Ward 3, Dan Allen’s passion for public service hasn’t faded. The former agriculture business owner has been pleased with the work that the council has made to improve the water quality of Lake Mitchell.
It’s been just over a year since the City Council held a special meeting to approve a $4.1 million land purchase aimed at implementing a wetland to reduce the phosphorus and sediment flowing into Lake Mitchell. The council’s approval of the near lake property just a couple miles west of Lake Mitchell along Firesteel Creek was a significant breakthrough for Allen, considering it was the first step toward working up the creek that is the source of where the phosphorus and sediment enter the lake.
“My goal is to continue moving Mitchell in the right direction, and improve the lake with the work we’re doing up stream Firsesteel Creek,” Allen said. “Continuing to work with the agriculture growers and ranchers along the creek is another goal I hope to see through in order to get the lake water quality improved.”
With the COVID-19 outbreak affecting local businesses and industry, Allen said there will be some serious challenges for the council to take on in the near future. But he’s been through a similar challenge before with the 2008 economic recession that took a toll on American businesses and industries.
As his first three-year term representing Ward 2 is coming to an end -- which lies in southeastern Mitchell -- John Doescher is proud of what the council has been able to accomplish. But the former businessman and restaurant manager is eager to continue bringing his professional experience to the council.
“I’m always watching the city’s pocket book that we get monthly, and I’m always questioning if there are any cheaper avenues we can explore and whether it is really necessary,” Doescher said. “It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. I love being involved with the budget discussions and actions.”
Doescher is the lone incumbent council member seeking his first re-election. The Mankato, Minnesota, native has lived in Mitchell for nearly 30 years, and he’s focused on making fiscally responsible decisions for the city’s financial budgeting. When it comes to voting on important issues that land themselves on the council agenda, Doescher said it’s all about listening to his voters of the ward he represents.
“I don’t have an agenda that I’m trying to push on the side, and I want to be a voice of reason,” said Doescher, who is known for his calm and collected demeanor. “I’ll vote against something I may want to see get passed, because I firmly believe in representing the voters of my ward.”
For Susan Tjarks, making strides to welcome more businesses and future workforce to the city of Mitchell is a high priority for the incumbent council member.
Tjarks will be seeking to serve her third term on the council representing Ward 4, which is the portion of Mitchell along the lake. The interior designer is focused to bring more vibrancy to Mitchell’s Main Street.
“With the Corn Palace right on Main Street, we need to help Main Street continue being an attractive place for tourists to want to explore and enjoy Mitchell,” Tjarks said. “It will be exciting to see things develop on Third Avenue and Main Street, and it was great to have that eyesore come down.”
Tjarks said improving the quality of life in Mitchell through art, recreation and entertainment works hand in hand with attracting more workers and unique businesses to call Mitchell their home.
“I think there are a lot of positive things happening in the city right now, but we have a lot of other challenges that we are facing,” Tjarks said. “I like being a part of helping find solutions to the challenges.”
Steve Rice, who has served on the council since 2012, is seeking re-election for Ward 1, looking to continue bringing his extensive experience to the council. Rice was not available for comment prior to the publishing of this story.