A LOOK AT THE CANDIDATES: FIRST IN A SERIES
By John McLoone
There will be a primary election Aug. 9 to narrow the candidate list for the two atlarge Hastings City Council seats from seven to four. Those four will then advance to the Nov. 8 fall election with the top two votegetters there taking seats on the council.
This is the first of weekly profiles of the candidates, who are: Joe Balsanek, 340 Crestview Dr.
Angie Haus, 1421 Tyler St. Dean Markuson, 436 Tiffany Dr.
Ian T. Martin, 1770 Greystone Rd.
Dennis Gerald Peine, 120 Ninth St. W
Dave Pemble, 731 W. Fifth St.
Tom Wright, 770 Seventh St. W
Balsanek has a long history of service in Hastings. He served 12 years on the Hastings City Council, including 10 years on the City Operations Committee, four years on the City Utilities Committee and four years on the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority.
He is a past Commander of the Hastings American Legion and served as Master Sergeant in the Minnesota Air National Guard for 22 years.
Balsanek was a professor at Inver Hills Community College for 25 years and an assistant professor at Hamline University for four years. He also owns Designs Plus.
He was a member and Lay Leader at Salem Methodist Church for 15 years. Other memberships include the Hastings Senior Center (10 years), the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (40 years), Pheasants Forever (30 years) and the Minnesota Garden Railway Association (22 years).
His hobbies include golf, fishing, hunting and dollhouse making.
Educationally, he has an Associates of Applied Science degree from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor of Arts from Adrian College and a Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University.
Balsanek feels his years serving sets him apart.
“With 12 years’ experience on the City Council, I have worked with three city administrators, three police chiefs, two fire chiefs, two public works directors and two mayors,” he said.
In addition, he has served on six City Council committees and chaired three.
See BALSANEK, Page 5 “Serving 12 years on the City Council, this experience over the years has leant a perspective, history, and tradition to our new council members and mayor,” said Balsanek. “I have a qualified background in Roberts Rules of Order, which is the benchmark for conducting orderly and efficient meetings.”
Balsanek is quick to add that his family is first and foremost.
“My greatest achievement, personally, is my family. I’ve been married 53 years to my wife, Betsy, with three adult children and six grandchildren,” he said. On the professional side, he lists as accomplishments:
•Authoring “A Speaker’s Journey,” a college textbook In Speech, published for 5 editions by McGraw Hill
•Serving my country in the Air Force, Air National Guard for 22 years
•Owning Designs Plus, working in Fine Arts design and construction for 35 years On the political side, he lists his 12 years on the City Council developing relationships with (in his words):
•State Legislators Tony Jurgens and Karla Bigham
•Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik
•Metropolitan Council representative Wendy Wulf
•State Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher
•County Commissioner Chairperson Mike Slavik
•The League of Minnesota Cities
•Our wonderful professional city staff
•The DCC 911 Center staff and board members
•Reducing the city’s tax rate every year I’ve been on the council
•Keeping our city’s property taxes in the middle range when compared with other Dakota County cities
•Serving on the Joint City/School District Task Force that created the Tilden Senior Center He commented, “These relationships that I have are invaluable because the City Council has no political affiliation. We work with all our county, state staff and elected officials in a bipartisan manner which can and should lead to consensus.”
If elected, his hope is to continue to lower the city’s tax rate, as well as (in his words):
•Attract new businesses. Since I’ve been on the city council, we have added over 100 new businesses.
•Encourage business expansion, remodeling and renovation. In my last 12 years on the council, over 60 businesses have improved their footprint in the city.
•Add more housing units. Finally, in the next 2 years Hastings will add over 250 housing units made up of apartments, condominiums, townhomes, starter homes and middle to highend singlefamily homes.
•Promote and Complete the Vermillion Street Corridor Project.
•Complete bonding projects for our city street improvements and infrastructure.
•Move toward a carbon free footprint on the city’s utilities costs.
•Build a new Incubator Business Park to attract high technology businesses that can interact with one another.
•Expand the city’s broadband services to help current businesses and attract new businesses.
Balsanek points out that if elected to the atlarge seat, he’d be the only senior citizen on the city council.
“We need that,” he said. He would also be the senior member of the City Council. As the council stands now, he’d also be the only military veteran.
“As a retiree, I have more time to devote to my constituents on a daily basis,” he said. “I have been a small business owner. We need that perspective represented on the council.”
Balsanek likened the city to a large business.
“This is not a popularity contest. The business of the city requires thoughtful questions,” he said. “The city budget with taxes and fees is approximately $23 million to serve 23,000 residents. Serious and knowledgeable decisions are required.”
Balsanek said he decided to run for office again because of his dedication to serving the community.
“It has truly been a satisfying and enjoyable experience the past 12 years on the Hastings City Council,” he said. “Working with my constituents to answer questions and solve concerns is a positive experience. All my life, I have chosen to serve my country, as a member of the military, as an educator and the Ward 2 member of the Hastings City Council. It has been an honor to serve in every aspect of my life and being on the City Council is no exception to that,” said Balsanek.
His last words: “I would really appreciate your vote of confidence in me, because, again, I would serve the City of Hastings with reverence and forethought.”