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Jim Zajkowski

Age: 74

Occupation: Retired after 41 Years Managing Family Fresh Pharmacy

Family: Wife, Susie, and son, Tim Zajkowski, and daughter, Wendi (Warren) Smallidge, and five grandkids

Prior political positions: 28 years as alderman in District 6 in New Richmond. Served on the Ambulance, Fire Advisory and Park boards. The Public Works, Airport commission, Economic Development and Plan Commission. 

What is the primary reason you have decided to run for mayor? The primary reason I'm running for mayor is that I believe we are missing a great opportunity for economic development.

With our location 15 miles from Minnesota and the four-lane highway ending in New Richmond, I believe we need a new industrial park. Also I want to see us finally get a new library which we have been working on for 20 years. I want to continue our initiative of healthy living in our community with increased emphasis on pathways, trails and parks. 

What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? I support people getting vaccinated and getting boosters. I think it has been proven that they prevent COVID and decrease hospitalizations and lessen COVID symptoms. I also understand where some people feel that they have freedom of choice. 

What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? Economic development should be our No. 1 priority. With our location I feel we could get companies moving or expanding to come here. We have to have Gold shovel ready land. This means we need land that has utilities up to the property.

When a company is looking for land to develop they need property now, not in 6 months or a year. This will increase our tax base which would hopefully lower the city portion of property taxes. We are always in competition with other communities but immediate land availability is a priority. 

Have you held an elected office previously? Explain.  I was on the City Council for 28 years. As stated above I was on numerous different committees. I feel that this commitment to the community has given me a vast knowledge of how the local government works. 

Hundreds of citizens peacefully marched for social justice in the city streets in 2020. How important is diversity and inclusion to the success of the city moving forward? I think diversity and inclusion starts in our schools. As we all know New Richmond is the fastest growing city in St Croix County. The population is now over 11,000. We now have many families moving in from the Twin Cities area.

I believe we have a welcoming community. I would say that 75% of the people living in New Richmond were not originally born here. That’s why I believe we do have a diverse community and are very accepting of the people migrating here. 

The city recently completed a housing study. How would you ensure the opportunities to develop include enough lower income housing to meet the growing need?  To have affordable housing we probably would have to work with developers for some kind of incentives. There could possibly be a residential TIF district, which would keep developers’ cost down which could make housing less expensive.

We will see more affordable housing in the Beebe Flats with 50 units for seniors 55 and over. This was accomplished by forming a TIF in which the city paid for the Beebe building and for taking it down for about $500,000. The city will be paid back through the TIF so the taxpayers don't foot the bill.

We will go from a property with a value of $450,000 to a building worth 11 million. This is how affordable housing could work. 

Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? I know for myself there wouldn't be a problem because I'm running unopposed. I do trust the integrity of the clerk and her staff. 

In your opinion, what three values are essential to growing a strong, welcoming, healthy community? The three values that I think make us a strong, healthy welcoming community are first our educational system. We have one of the best school systems in the state of Wisconsin with great modern facilities and also one of the top technical colleges in the country in Northwoods Technical College.

This brings us learning experiences for kindergarteners through seniors. Second. Healthy living is very important. We are developing a great trails,pathway and parks system. Every year with new developments we expand our pathways. We have multiple parks with soccer fields,pickle ball courts,tennis courts,youth football fields,skateboard park and soon to be coming 18 hole disc golf course.

Also we have one of the premier golf courses in Western Wisconsin. Thirdly. safety in a community is very important. Our police force is very well respected and gets involved in our community. With all the negative events happening in the Twin Cities many people are moving here to be in a safe,welcoming community. 

What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? I feel that my commitment to the community has always been one of my most important assets. If I see a need I try to get it done. I saw a need for a skatepark and raised $150,000 to make it happen.

We needed a new scoreboard at Citizens field. Raised $30,000 to make it happen. We are now working on an 18-hole disc golf course and have raised approximately $100,000. Now my commitment to the community is a new industrial park,library and working with the VFW to make the Freedom Park Center a reality for veterans,seniors and the community. 

James (Jim) Jackson

Age: 61

Occupation: Self Employed Maui Wowi Smoothies and Century 21 Realtor

Family: Wife (Patty Marson) 8 grown children, 2 Dogs Dottie and Daphne 

Prior political positions: Four-plus years on NR City Council 2013-2018

What is the primary reason you have decided to run for mayor? To give the people of New Richmond a choice instead of just one candidate and to use my experience as a small business owner to help serve the community. Fresh ideas, fresh outlook and new ideas. 

What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? We would have to listen to the health departments, both local and federal. But at the end of the day a person's health is their responsibility and their choice and government have no business in it. 

What should the city’s No. 1 priority be?  Tough question as there are many. I think control spending, decrease taxes if possible and attract more business both industrial and retail. Would be the top priority. 

Have you held an elected office previously? Explain.  Yes, in the middle of 2013 I was appointed to New Richmond City Council and served until 2018. 

Hundreds of citizens peacefully marched for social justice in the city streets in 2020. How important is diversity and inclusion to the success of the city moving forward? Very important. It is necessary for any city or town for the citizens to have a place of belonging. There should be no reason why everyone who calls New Richmond home or looking to call New Richmond home not to feel welcome by the city staff or its leaders. 

The city recently completed a housing study. How would you ensure the opportunities to develop include enough lower income housing to meet the growing need?  I think this would be another private/public project(s) and you have to follow the comprehensive plan as well as work closely with the planning commission and community development department.

As in other community throughout the state there is a great need for that in New Richmond too. I would look to secure grants and low interest loans from various sources to either take away the burden of the citizens or at least lighten it. 

Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? I don't think so; however, since I'm running as a write-in there might be issues in how the voters write my name in and how the poll workers look at the ballots.

Per the election day manual dated September 2020 it states that the election officials and chief election inspector have to determine voters' intent, if the ballot is not correctly filled out. This may cause problems since another person is trying to determine what the voter's intent was when they voted. 

In your opinion, what three values are essential to growing a strong, welcoming, healthy community?

1) Take Responsibility

2) Listening

3) Communication / Transparency

9. What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates?

I think I have the ability to hear and understand both sides of an issue(s). I got that from all my years in law enforcement. 

I have been involved with local government since 2010 serving as a volunteer on many committees such as police and fire, park board, New Richmond housing authority.

After leaving the council I was appointed to the plan commission where I still serve as well as the ethics board. I try to stay up to date on what's going on in the community. Also, as a small business owner of two businesses, I get budgets and time constraints. I use common sense to think about and work through issues. 

Tom Lindfors is a western Wisconsin freelance journalist and former Star-Observer reporter. Contact him at tom@lindforsphoto.com

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