Cambridge council will wait to fill vacant seat

Last January, the Cambridge council had only two possible candidates to choose from to fill the vacated council seat that was opened when Jim Godfrey was elected mayor. Ten months later, with the council having to again fill the same seat after the death of Marlys Palmer, the council finds itself having to choose from six eligible candidates.

Because of the larger candidate pool and because one of the candidates was not available to appear before the council for an interview at the Monday, Nov. 4, council meeting, the council will wait until the Nov. 18 council meeting to make their appointment.

Also different from last January, where the two applicants were very similar in the form of Palmer and former council member Joe Morin, this pool of candidates provides differing backgrounds and perspectives they would bring to the table as a council member.

Tom Schibilla: Schibilla is a Cambridge-Isanti graduate who has most recently lived in Cambridge for eight years. He is retired after working for 40 years with the Isanti County Building Maintenance Department. He also served on the Isanti County Planning Commission for a year.

In his application, he said that maintaining infrastructure, maintaining the police and fire departments and economic development are his top priorities for the council.

Joe Morin: Morin has lived in the city for over 23 years and has served on the council multiple times, with his last term ending in December 2018, which he says is an obvious advantage for selecting him.

“Some people think I’m still on the council,” Morin stated during his interview.

He said the most important function for the council is to listen to the citizens. He said he still visits downtown on a regular basis and talks with as many people as he can, and that is how he came up with his top priorities of tax rates, public safety and public works.

Roland “Rollie” Lange: Lange admits he isn’t very familiar with the city as he only moved here seven months ago. However, he feels that could be an advantage to the council.

“Since I am new here, I carry a completely unbiased opinion,” Lange said in his application.

Despite his short history with the city, Lange says his previous experience being a council member for Clearwater, Minnesota, would be beneficial here.

“Clearwater isn’t as big of a city as Cambridge, but it had some of the same interests,” Lange said during his interview.

He said his top priorities for the city are public safety, fiscal responsibility and business, job and home development.

Randy Westby: Westby has lived in Cambridge for four years, but has been a resident in the area for much longer than that. 

“For more than 50 years, I have observed and interacted with the city of Cambridge,” Westby said in his application. “I have witnessed the perils impacting many communities including Cambridge; however, Cambridge has endured and demonstrated through strong leadership not only to maintain but also grow in spite of adversities.”

While not having elected office experience within the city of Cambridge, Westby did serve one term from 2010-2014 on the North Branch School Board.

He said his top priorities for the city are community growth and adopting futuristic needs while maintaining a friendly hometown environment, widening Highway 95 and downtown accessibility and the industrial/business park.

Barb Kruschel: Kruschel has lived in Cambridge for 38 years. While not having any elected office experience, she has been active in the community by advocating for the new library, including speaking at the State Capitol. She has also been an active member of the Isanti County DFL, including one year as its chair.

She feels the top priorities for the city are to keep the budget balanced, be honest and to make sure the streets get done “like Marlys did.”

Sharon Martens: Martens wasn’t able to attend the meeting due to prior travel plans. The council decided to conduct her interview first thing during the Nov. 18 council meeting. She has lived in Cambridge for a little over four years.

While she doesn’t have any experience here, Martens has been elected to both the Grafton, North Dakota, city council and served as mayor of Grafton. She also has taught political science at a couple universities, plus was the Walsh County State’s Attorney in North Dakota.

On her application, she lists bringing in new businesses and supporting existing businesses, promoting affordable housing and finding a way to build a public swimming pool and bike paths as her top three priorities.

“A city council grows when different folks with different backgrounds serve,” she said on her application. “More points of view are in place with different focuses.”

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