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Town of St. Joseph candidates answer questions

Clockwise, from top left: Rick Colbeth, Jay Kimble, Dan Gavin, Daniel Thompson, Jim Traeger, and Keegan McConaughey.

The town of St. Joseph has races for town chair and supervisor posts 2 and 4. Running for chair are incumbent Dan Gavin and challenger Jay Kimble. Running for the supervisor 2 post are incumbent Jim Traeger and challenger Daniel Thompson. Running for the supervisor 4 post are incumbent Rick Colbeth and challenger Keegan McConaughey.


Dan Gavin, 58

Occupation: Cisco Voice Engineer at Enventis, Plymouth, Minn.

Family: Wife Janice, four adult children.

Prior Elected Office: Town of St. Joseph supervisor, eight years; current town chairman, two years.

What is/are the most important issue(s) in the town of St. Joseph and how would you address it/them?

I see three important issues for the town of St. Joseph at this time; the new St. Croix River Crossing, town roads, and town management.

No doubt the most important of these issues facing the town in the coming years is how we address the potential impact of the new St. Croix River Crossing bridge, and how do we utilize the mitigation funds available to the town in a way to help manage and support an anticipated growth in population in the coming years.

A few months ago the town formed our own Bridge Committee comprised of citizens to begin the process of addressing this very issue. This committee is tasked to make recommendations for planning changes, possible land purchases and cooperative efforts with other public agencies and municipalities to make the most of up to $800,000 in funds available to the town.

The second issue is town roads. While the town has been very aggressive over the past 10 years in upgrading our road infrastructure, we must continue to find the resources to keep our newer roads maintained and to improve our older roads still in need of upgrades.

The third issue is town management. I am proud to say that over the course of the last two years, with the help of our town supervisors and many dedicated citizens who contributed significant personal time, we have returned the overall management of our town to an efficient and respected position. Soon after I took office two years ago we ran into an issue with our clerk/treasurer which led to her removal from office. As a result of this we now have a newly appointed clerk/treasurer who will need to see effective leadership to help her in her new position.

I plan to continue to maintain an orderly management of our town, treat all people respectfully, and give everyone an opportunity to participate in our future.

Jay Kimble, 61

Occupation: Retired.

Family: Wife Karin, six adult children (three girls, three boys).

Prior Elected Office: Mayor, City of Stillwater, Minn., 12 years (elected 1994, 1998 and 2002); Council member, City of Stillwater, 10 years (elected 1982, 1986, 1992).

What is/are the most important issue(s) in the town of St. Joseph and how would you address it/them?

The most important issue in decades for the town of St. Joseph is the new river crossing with four lanes of freeway coming through our town. It will cause changes to our St. Croix River bluff areas including a loop trail system. Coordinating the implementation of this major transportation system so that it meets the current and long-term needs of our community is crucial to our town.

I have worked on these issues for years, and have strong networking connections with many of the agencies involved. I will help St. Joseph remain diligent through this process to ensure the best possible project oversight that limits disruption to our residents and preserves our rural lifestyle.

The most current issue that has many residents concerned and upset is the snow plowing. Emergency vehicle access, mail delivery, garbage collection, and general safety have been compromised. While it may be unfair to criticize the current board for the snow plowing contract, since their purpose was to save our tax dollars, the disappointing reality is that the current inexperienced contractor is costing us far more for less efficiency that in the past. We need to reevaluate the process and hire a competent, experienced contractor with proper equipment to keep our roads passable and safe.

Other issues include citizens' perceptions that the current Town Board is operating with favoritism, nepotism, vindictiveness and conflicts of interest. True or not, I believe our residents should feel a positive level of trust in their local officials. I intend to create that trust and comfort by leading the Town Board with integrity, to foster honesty, fair treatment for all, and true transparency. People are tired of politicians who don't care about them and are looking for someone that will listen to them. I am that candidate.

Supervisor 2

Jim Traeger, 47

Occupation: CEO, Lake Country Marketing Corp.

Family: Wife Tammy, sons Tyler and Andrew.

Prior elected office: St. Joseph Town Board 2011.

What is/are the most important issue(s) in the town of St. Joseph and how would you address it/them?

There are several major issues facing the town of St. Joseph. The first is the planning and development for the new river crossing bridge. This bridge will change the landscape of St. Joseph as well as its rural setting. It is important that we continue to strive to protect our rural character from the growth that is coming. The current board and its committees are successfully communicating with other municipalities to ensure we are all prepared in unison for this new bridge.

The second issue is tackling the $3.5 million deficit our town inherited. We cannot continue to grow on borrowed money. Since I have been in office, we have paid down on the debt, paid off other debt, and have reduced taxes. I will strive to continue to reduce wasteful spending and continue to enact safeguards that will eliminate unauthorized or foolish spending. I will strive to continue to pay down the debt while reducing our town taxes like we have been doing since I have been on the board.

Another key issue is the introduction of high speed internet to St. Joseph. For the past year and a half I have been reintroducing state government and business to St. Joseph to ensure we are on the top of the list should any federal grants come available for high speed internet and if not, how we can work together to get it done. I serve on the board of the Wisconsin Broadband Implementation Group to bridge businesses and government together to make this goal a reality.

Finally, the issue of ensuring an open and transparent government. We have made great strides over the past three years in providing the citizens of St. Joseph with the information needed to stay informed. With the creation of a new town website and the use of an overhead projector, our citizens are able to stay informed. I will continue to advance this cause by making sure every citizen has the opportunity to see the same documents we see when making informed decisions.

Daniel Thompson, 41

Occupation: Owner/ Operator "Guv's Place" in Houlton.

Family: Wife Jessica, two daughters ages 19 and 15

Prior elected office: None.

What is/are the most important issue(s) in the town of St. Joseph and how would you address it/them?

I feel the most important issue facing St Joseph is the potential growth influenced by the St Croix River Crossing project and having a town government ready to deal with the impending change.

I will address this issue by:

1. Creating an honest, open, and professionally run government that can be run efficiently and with integrity. I will fight for an impartial town government that is free of favoritism; and willing to work with everyone that wants to be involved.

2. I feel we need to be prepared and have systems in place to deal with growth responsibly (both fiscally and environmentally), so that we may preserve the way of life that we have become accustomed to.

3. I feel we need to involve the many diverse and talented people we have in our town that want to be involved. I will listen to and value all opinions and strive for solutions that will work for every stakeholder in St Joseph.

4. I will strive to create an open and cooperative environment at both the town hall level and between neighbors.

I feel my background in both business and construction makes me an ideal candidate for the St. Joseph Town board. I have served our local fire department for seven years and want our local government to be about service, not control. I will bring honesty, integrity, and a "commitment to service" to the position.

I feel that our board needs to be open, smart, impartial, and civil. I will work hard to get St. Joseph working together so we can make this a place to be proud of.

Supervisor 4

Rick Colbeth, 53

Occupation: Highway maintenance

Family: Wife Marie, Cade (eighth grade), Cylie (college), Casey (Army) and wife Kassy, Carissa and husband Jake.

Prior elected office: Running for fourth or fifth term as supervisor.

What is/are the most important issue(s) in the town of St. Joseph and how would you address it/them?

Because of our passionate, interested, concerned, willing and very able citizens, the town of St. Joseph has many important issues and will always have many important issues going on, usually all at the same time -- never a dull moment.

Here is a partial list, in no particular order: newly appointed clerk, suspended impact fees, snowplowing, considering local zoning, new bridge, ORP (Outdoor Rec Plan), 85th Street, Perch Lake boat landing, gravel roads, reduced state monies and major road work. 

All these issues need to be addressed with transparency, facts, an open mind, and a willingness to listen to all those that are interested while at the same time representing the silent majority that trusts you are making decisions to keep the town of St. Joe an affordable and wonderful place to call home. 

Keegan McConaughey, 34

Occupation: 11 years active duty in the Air Force. Currently a pilot with the Minnesota Air National Guard (rank of major).

Family: Wife Annie, two sons, Cullen, 3, and Scottie, 18 months.

Prior Elected Office: None

What is/are the most important issue(s) in the town of St. Joseph and how would you address it/them?

I bring the ability to look at the big picture regarding issues important to the people of the town of St. Joseph. With the bridge coming in and its impact, it is essential that we make sure the mitigation funding allocated to the town is spent in the most advantageous manner possible.

I also realize that the snowplowing has been a concern this winter. The contract with the local providers, who had done an outstanding job for the town in the past and had employed local people, was not renewed. Instead, a contract with an out-of-state firm who had never plowed town roads in the past and has done a mediocre job this winter at an increased cost compared to past providers. In addition, tens of thousands of dollars in damages have been done to these roads that will have to be repaired. I will work hard at having competent firms to provide all services to the town.

I also pledge to be fiscally responsible with all town monies entrusted to me.

I have faithfully served my country, now I want to continue that dedication serving my community.