I received a great note from someone who moved to Isanti in 2002 and made me think of all the changes we have seen. It also reminded me that those who have moved to Isanti in the last couple years may not know what we faced over a decade ago and how hard we had to work to make Isanti such a great City. My wife and I moved to Isanti in 2001. The City had about 2,200 people 18 years ago. The City leadership at that time made the decision to really grow fast. They did this by having lower developer fees, minimal development regulations and subsidizing residential growth by directly putting in infrastructure that taxpayers ended up paying for. During this rapid expansion new city wells needed to be drilled tapping into a deeper aquifer whose water was contaminated with radium. This cancer causing element was flowing through city water. Every three months a notice had to be issued on the test results of drinking water. There was no rental ordinance protecting renters or neighboring home owners. We had rental properties that were incredibly unsafe and put renters in harms way. We also had rental homes that were not being maintained and caused negative property values for neighboring homes. Nuisance properties with garbage, appliances and basic junk strewn about the property were becoming more numerous. The School Resource Officer program was in jeopardy with the school district.  We faced increasing crime and great pressure on our limited police resources. Our police department was operating out of an old beauty salon with decade old donated computers and equipment that was an embarrassment. Many of our public works vehicles and other equipment was old and staff had to spend a great deal of time keeping all of it operable. We still had unpaved roads in the City and old utility infrastructure. Our municipal liquor store was contributing very little to the City budget.  The rapid residential growth of the early 2000’s was set against this backdrop. The City at the time paid for all this with extensive City debt. They accumulated over $9.1 Million dollars of net debt that put a crushing burden on every single residential and business property.

After moving to Isanti I became involved in the Community becoming President of the Jaycees and  working on the Bike/Walk Trail Committee eventually becoming its Co-Chair. Being Co-chair of the volunteer Bike/Walk Committee (we built the Cambridge/Isanti Bike Walk Trail), was a great privilege that allowed me to work with so many amazing people and learn from them. This experience along with being President of the Isanti Jaycees is what lead me to run for City Council in 2004. I fought against the debt fueled Rapid Residential Growth that was based on fantasy projections from inexperienced City leadership. After two years on Council I decided to run for Mayor and to get new people on Council to make sure we could make the necessary changes. We were successful and I was sworn in as Mayor just as the Great Recession hit. We were faced with rapidly falling property values and the loss of approximately $500,000 a year in Local Government Aid and Homestead Tax Payments. The City faced a mountain of debt, big cuts in City revenue and increased cost to operate. I immediately created and presented City Council with a plan to get Isanti moving forward to recovery. We did the following:

  • Cut staffing levels
  • Cut spending on non-essential services to conserve cash
  • Started cutting net debt
  • Budgeted cash reserves
  • Hired a new police officer
  • Built water treatment plant to ensure safe drinking water
  • Rental ordinance was created
  • Regulations to ensure property values, public safety, environmental and drinking aquifer safety
  • All city roads were paved
  • New liquor store management that has consistently brought $350,000 to the City Budget
  • Created Long Term Financial Plan
  • Created Long Term Capital Improvement Plan
  • Created Long Term Development Plan
  • Formal City Rules, Procedures & Transparency

Our plan worked and we were able to get Isanti back on track to a great future. We now have a great Mayoral Record that proves we know how to operate a City. We have had many people in the past years make empty promises and, have zero record to back it up, attempt to throw Isanti back into the past. Reversing all of our hard won progress and forgetting the terrible shape Isanti was in before would be a tragic mistake. We are successful because we work hard, stick to our standards and the plans we have made as a City. A quick example on the benefit of not sliding backwards on City Standards is along Highway 65. During the Great Recession we had many projects presented to do outdoor/indoor storage businesses or construction office type businesses that stored their equipment along the highway. There was a strong push to allow this to get some new construction in the very lean recession years. We stuck to our standards and today we have Coborn’s, Allina Health, Best Western Plus, retail business, several medical and care facilities and financial institutions bringing in 10’s of millions of dollars and hundreds of good paying jobs. Isanti is a special place that we believe is better because we have higher standards and expectations that lead to our success. We have a beautiful City that people are moving into because of the hard work we have done. Our growth is not fueled by debt as in the past but by development paying for itself. We cut the inherited net debt of $9.1 million dollars down to $2.9 million and we are reducing it further. Our Mayoral Record in three main categories:


  • Per Capita Income increased 77%
  • 48% net increase in total number of businesses
  • Local jobs increased by 40% since being elected Mayor
  • Median Household Income increased 54%
  • Median House Value is $35,550 higher than neighboring City
  • Long-Term Financial Plan
  • Cut net debt from $9.1 million to $2.9 million since being elected Mayor
  • Improved City Credit Rating from Baa or 1 step from Junk/Speculative rating to AA+ or High Quality
  • Administrative cost per capita are 20% less than our peer cities
  • Spending is 16% less than peer cities
  • Received multiple Business Recruitment Awards from the Minnesota Economic Development Association


  • Cut Sewer Base Fee 50%
  • Cut Water Base fee 25%
  • Cut SAC/WAC fees $2,500
  • Cut property tax rate 7% in 2018
  • City Property Tax cut of 10% for 2019
  • Formal City Rules, Procedures & Transparency
  • Increased General Fund balance 42% since 2015
  • Mayor’s Employer Appreciation Awards
  • Business Retention and Expansion visits with existing businesses


  • Isanti named 6thSafest City in Minnesota (out of 853 cities)
  • Added Patrol Officer and Police Investigator positions and Police Bike Patrol
  • Isanti School Resource Officer named #1 in the State
  • Improved Police equipment and technology
  • Won Drinking Water Quality Award
  • Won Blue Star Award for Protecting and Preserving Minnesota’s Water Resources
  • Won the Conservationist of the Year Award 2018
  • Created Residential Handbook
  • Isanti’s Farmers Market
  • Street Dances
  • Youth Programming
  • Increased recreational opportunities
  • 67% increase in Park land through negotiation with developers and DNR at ZERO cost to Taxpayers
  • Fit City Designation
  • Green Step City

Being Mayor is a great privilege and tremendous responsibility. The Council and I are directly responsible for approximately 6,000 residents and all of our businesses, schools and nonprofits.  Isanti is a small city and yet we have hundreds of items we make decisions on each year along with setting long term goals & plans, budgets, staffing and much more. We have been through a lot together and we do not know what else we will face in the future. We do know that we have the experience, the skills and the vision to make Isanti the best City it can be. I humbly ask for your support
August 14th to keep moving Isanti Forward.

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