VIRGINIA — After the votes are counted on Nov. 8, three candidates will be elected re-elected to the Virginia City Council.
The field currently includes six candidates and the general election will eliminate three seeking the four-year seats.
In the running for City Council are: Incumbents Charlie Baribeau, Maija Biondich and Gary Friedlieb and challengers Laura Summers Bachschneider, former councilor Bob Henderson and Liz Motley.
All precincts vote at the Iron Trail Motors Event Center. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. Dial-A-Ride will be offering free rides to all voters.
All six candidates were given the same questions to comment on for this story including background and why they are running for office.
The following are their unedited answers.
Virginia has always been my home. I grew up on Northside as the youngest child of Roger & Carole Summers. I have been married to my husband Paul for almost 25 years and we share two daughters, Holly and Annie (husband Nate Perkio) who have also made Virginia their home. I have been a social worker for 32 years for St. Louis County and have served on numerous community, school, medical, and civic boards. I am the current chair of the Virginia Community Foundation.
• Retired Pharmacist/Manager for 35 years
• Virginia City Councilor for 26 years/Vice Mayor
• Chairman of the Street and Alley Committee
• Past President, Vice President and Current Board Member of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS)
• Finance and budget expertise
• Knowledge of bonding, state granting process, and IRRRB funding for the city
• Politically connected for networking with local and state representatives and lobbyists
I was raised with 10 siblings on a family farm in rural Mountain Iron. I am a graduate of Mountain Iron High School and have lived on the Iron Range all of my life. For nearly 25 years, I owned and operated a downtown Virginia business (Silver Lake Floral). I have served on numerous organizations including the Virginia Economic Development Authority, Virginia Eveleth Economic Authority, and Women of Kaleva. I have served on the Virginia City Council for almost four years. I reside in the Pillsbury Addition of Virginia with my husband Jack Biondich.
My wife (Linda) and I are retired lifelong residents of the city of Virginia. I enjoyed a rewarding career in public education which enlightened me to the importance of public service and contributing to one’s community beyond one’s own self-interests. We raised three sons each of whom returned to Virginia to establish their own careers and are currently positively contributing to the fabric of our community in public education and business. My family has deep and established roots in the city of Virginia, in addition to a 2 year old grandson, which motivates us as a family to continue to invest our time and energy into the city’s future growth and development. We respect what this city has provided to us as a family over our lifetimes and are committed to continuing to contribute to its well-being.
I am a lifelong Virginia resident and a past City Counselor with experience of how local government operates. I am retired from USS/Minntac after 38 years and have the time to serve the citizens of Virginia in a fiscally prudent way.
My background is born in the Virginia hospital, raised in Eveleth, and moved to Virginia in 2010. I have worked 17 years in the Virginia hospital as a CT/Xray technologist. I have been a vested member of our community taking advantage of our trail system whether it be biking, walking, sledding, or using my ATV.
2. Why are you running for this particular office?
I am often asked, “why are you putting yourself out there, it’s a thankless job”. The bottom line is simple-I don’t want to complain about problems or imagine solutions from the comfort of my couch. I want a seat at the table to be part of real change and accountability. I have no hidden or blatant agenda, no conflicts of interest, and will bring a fresh perspective. I have served our community for decades through multiple boards and this is my opportunity to use my unique set of skills to get things done.
• Experienced Incumbent City Councilor
• Believe the citizens of Virginia deserve full transparency in city business
• Experienced in city policies, ordinances, structure, and individual department knowledge
• Ability to find solutions for City needs
• Dedicated to completing goals/objectives set forth by the council
• Dedicated to the people of Virginia and their concerns/strengths
• Willing to listen, problem solve and respond to our residents.
I am seeking re-election to the Virginia City Council because I enjoy representing the residents of this community. It is challenging to me personally and professionally, but it is also very rewarding. I like serving the constituents by being open, honest, and to the point. I believe in being an advocate for those who come to me with their issues and concerns. I am a public servant who deeply cares about the present and future of Virginia.
Having first been appointed to the city council in April of 2018, and then being elected in November of 2018, I found the work of the city council to be both challenging and rewarding. Having a seat and a voice in the forum of city government is a responsibility I take very seriously and I consider it a true privilege to serve the public in this capacity. I seek to continue to represent the residents of the city in a professional, yet personal manner, using calm and common sense to finding reasonable resolutions to issues we all face.
I would like to serve our Community again and have always been interested in what goes on in our city. I also have the ability to propose and create dialogue with the interested parties on whatever business comes before the City. Open discussion and transparency are what the citizens need to have for a councilor to be effective.
I am running for office to invest in our community and partner with the generations that have proudly called this home and retain the future generations to live, work and raise their families here. Virginia is rich with resources including beauty, prosperity, camaraderie and opportunity. These combined, have inspired me to promote this community to all ages, entrepreneurs, and families.
3. What makes you stand out from the other candidates and why should the citizens of Virginia vote for you?
In my answer for Background/Experiences, I had the opportunity to highlight tangible skills as to why you should vote for me. Now, I would like to focus on my intangible skills. Being a life-long community volunteer has taught me how to appropriately ask the in-depth questions and how to prepare for meetings. Being a social worker has taught me empathy, kindness, and optimism. Finally, being a mother and wife has taught me fairness, self-awareness, and confidence without being egotistical. I am well-known for my strong work ethic, independence, diligence, integrity, transparency, and sense of humor.
• Very important to retain expertise on the City council, invaluable City knowledge base
• Not afraid to challenge status quo, thinks outside the box
• Staunch advocate for police, fire, and ambulance services especially tough on crime
• Well versed in City, county, State, and Federal requirements
• Have been intimately involved with the development of the Iron Trail Motors Event Center (ITMEC)
• Actively involved with the development of the 3 new schools, public safety building, and Hospital affiliation
I believe that my experiences as a business owner, public servant, and city councilor for nearly four years have given me the ability to understand our city’s operations. I have gained a lot of knowledge by working with the city’s administration, department heads, fellow city councilors, business owners, and Virginia residents. I believe in being a good steward of taxpayer dollars to make sure they are used for the betterment of our entire community. I just want to be the best
I can be for all of our residents.
I have extensive professional administrative experience in the public realm. I am familiar with and abide by the protocols established for conducting business in an efficient mutually respectful manner and am able to draw upon past experience to thoroughly and thoughtfully analyze an issue prior to casting my vote. I understand the necessity for appropriate prioritization and will use my role on the council to continue to express my views on what I consider to be the city’s most pressing matters affecting the largest number of residents. I have no ax to grind and approach each and every issue initially with balance and neutrality. Finding resolution to foremost priorities requires researching topics, being a focused listener, employing a diplomatic mindset, and respecting consensus over personal passion. I have the ability to get the work done that taxpayers expect for their investment in this city.
I do not feel that I stand out from the others. A councilors job is not an easy one. There are many things one has to consider before deciding what is best for the City and its residents. Everyone has different views and ideas about issues, but coming together and voting for common goals should please the majority of the citizens.
I stand out because of my passion for this community combined with my drive to support our local businesses owners and our economy. My loyalty to Virginia is my driving force to make this a safe and triumph community for all who live, work, or play here.
4. What can be done to attract economic development to the city and then how would you go about retaining it?
Virginia needs a clear vision for our future that engages leaders and the overall community. We must inventory our existing assets, then shape a plan around that. We are fortunate enough to have some distinguishable assets including the ITMEC, historical buildings, and our geography. Now, we must use education, incentives, relationships, and partnerships to encourage high quality development. This effort should include Community Development Planners at both the city and county level, Administration, the council/mayor, VEDA, VEEDA, ReVive Virginia, community non-profits, and citizens. Having strong partnerships is essential to develop a plan and ensure it stays on track.
• Continuously upgrading the City Web Site and supporting business that are available in Virginia
• Supporting potential incoming businesses and industry with finding funding through multiple sources for grants, loans, tax incentives and in-kind services for infrastructure through matching funds
Virginia, by partnering with business, government, and economic organizations, needs to collaborate on promoting our community, its strengths, and opportunities. This promotion includes our schools, local colleges, medical facilities, recreational facilities, city infrastructure, and our quality of living. We will need to work with all levels of government (county, state, federal) to find creative funding methods. We need to continue to assist our existing businesses and explore ways to attract new ones. Economic development needs to be a community wide effort. The city can’t do it alone, we need collaboration and cooperation.
Economic development requires investment. Building civic infrastructure such as the new Iron Trail Motors Event Center, the new Virginia Public Safety Building, contributing to the Rock Ridge School projects, the Silver Lake and Bailey’s Lake trail improvements, and our extensive streets and alleys endeavors are all examples of the city’s commitment to that critical aspect of attracting economic development. We need to continue to be creative in removing obstacles for individuals and partnerships willing to invest in developing businesses. Menards, Target, Komatsu, and the old Seppi’s Road corridor are all prominent examples of successful outcomes. A new Marriot level hotel is also soon to break ground at the site of the old Miner’s Memorial Building. Retaining businesses requires city support in encouraging expansion and improvements, minimizing cost prohibitive regulations, and encouraging community support of local goods and services. We also need to recognize, appreciate and support our longtime well-established local businesses and the value they bring to our community.
First of all we need a new qualified and experienced community planner to replace the gentleman who just left. Also, a marketing firm to work with this person to direct the council and administration to what they feel is best for the City. Open dialogue and trust is the best way to retain good working relationships.
I have this vision in my mind of making Rouchleau Pit Virginia’s backyard playground whether it be hiking, biking, snowshoeing, using atvs, kayaking, or even ziplining. Anyone hear of Chisholm’s Redhead park? I would chat with them right away to see how they made some of these items possible. Virginia’s Rouchleau Pit is a diamond in the rough and could be a great destination spot for all.
5. With inflation at near record levels, should Virginia share with other cities to cut costs? What are some examples of sharing you would recommend?
Cooperation equals mutual benefit, and it is important to keep in mind that the competition should not be between cities, but rather between regions. I don’t believe any of our local cities have the resources by themselves to attract tourism, provide all the services citizens need and expect, and compete with larger communities. Cooperation allows us to recognize shared problems to come up with a regional solution. Since you must start somewhere, my recommendation is starting with the ambulance/fire service. Mutual aid is already a well-established practice and formalizing a plan with our neighbors needs to be explored and established.
• Virginia already shares equipment with neighboring cities and townships
• Mutual aid agreements are already in place with neighboring cities and townships for fire, ambulance and police services
• The cities rescue truck is available for the surrounding areas by request
• Provide opportunities for needed licensing and continuing education for the surroundings areas.
Sharing services with other communities will be crucial to not only Virginia, but other cities, We will need to have open and truthful discussions with many of entities to make any of this
sharing occur. We can certainly explore shared law enforcement, ambulance, fire, public works, recreation, and public utilities. We must be completely sure that the quality of any of these services does not diminish. We must also make sure that employees in these areas are not sacrificed and that they be part of the discussions.
Inflation rises and falls as the market dictates. Goods and services are reliant on supply and demand. I don’t consider the current fluctuation in inflation to be a driving force for municipalities to consider forging alliances in order to possibly better serve the public. Maybe the Quad Cities could consider sharing services in some capacity if future pressing circumstances dictate such a need. I would not be opposed to evaluating how each city could assist one another and would welcome such a dialogue but am not convinced the current rate of inflation is a legitimate catalyst for exploring how municipal resources could be cooperatively shared. Logistics, personnel, and available resources are key factors in determining to what extent shared municipal services are advisable and reasonable. Discussions have taken place exploring shared fire services between Mt. Iron and Virginia. It’s a start.
I do believe we should open conversations with any interested cities in our area on how we could possibly save each other monies. Use of specialized equipment could be a start. Another possibility would be sharing economic development, if that could be done. Getting together with representatives from our area, to see if there is some common projects that would be beneficial to everyone, not just one city.
I am very much for sharing with our local range cities to cut cost as long as it doesn’t create job loss. I would combine purchases like capital equipment where you could maybe get discounts if you buy two dump trucks instead of one. I would look at purchases that are a material amount.
6. Closing statement
I am not a politician; I am a leader who would be honored to serve the community as a Virginia City Councilor. I will make fiscally responsible decisions; engage the community; and partner with neighbors. I have honed my skills and proven my commitment to Virginia through decades of service. I am asking for your vote on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022, to make our shared home a better place for all.
I have served the City of Virginia as a City Councilor for the past 26 years. In doing so, I have always done this with the best interest of the city in mind as well as being transparent and open to all citizens. I am an Air Force Veteran. I am a family man dedicated to my wife, 3 grown children, and 8 grandchildren.
Your vote would be appreciated on November 8th, 2022; so, I can continue to be a positive voice for all citizens of Virginia.
I believe in serving with transparency, truthfulness, and complete honesty. I am up to the challenge to move Virginia into the future by working together with those who want positive change. I am not for negativity, but optimism that we can make a difference. I want to thank all of those who have supported me, and I look forward to serving the city in the future.
People often ask me “why on earth do you want to be involved in politics?” And invariably I tell them I am privileged to be involved in public service – not politics. We all have our own opinions of how our tax dollars should be spent and how decisions should be rendered on a variety of issues. Speaking on behalf of others when many may have an opposing viewpoint to mine is what makes the job most challenging. However, I welcome that challenge and encourage all residents to share their opinions and viewpoints with the city council as it assists us in making informed decisions. We may have to agree to disagree on certain topics in order to progress toward resolutions, but at least your voice will have been heard. Ultimately, as I’ve said, I am privileged to represent you and your family as a member of the city council. I seek your support in my efforts to best serve our community on your behalf. Most importantly however, regardless of who you support - go VOTE for the person(s) you believe best represent your viewpoints. I’ll trust your judgment, but I humbly, yet confidently encourage you to trust mine as well.
In closing, I would hope you trust the ideas I may have, as I will work for you in a common sense way. I have no problem with saying no if something is not the best for the City financially.
Thank you and please go to the polls and vote on November 8th.
I would be honored to hold the position of city council for Virginia, with the opportunity to make a difference in our community. I am fiercely committed to making this city better. Let me work for you!
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