My name is Dwight Gunnarson and I am proud to be your new Mayor. I would like to thank all of you who hired me with your vote. I would also like to thank Mayor Marlene, and Mayors Buck, Sam, and Daryl along with their councils and staff, our school boards, service organizations, and businesses for such inspiring and great work over the past two decades. Their leadership, forethought, and vision have put Annandale in a great position of strength and opportunity.
Our infrastructure is second to none, with essentially brand new sewer and water plants, streets that are 80% rebuilt, and a healthy financial situation while maintaining the fifth lowest total tax rate out of sixteen cities in Wright County. Our schools are attractive, vibrant, and productive. Our service organizations are ample, willing and strong. Our businesses are dedicated, innovative, and hard working. Our police and fire departments are highly trained and well equipped to keep us safe.
Some would say this would be the easiest time to be on the city council since things in the city are so good. Contrary to belief, the toughest time to lead anything is when things are good. When things are good there is a tendency of complacency that can create a false sense of security and arrogance, which ultimately leads to poor decision-making. The only way to ensure good decision-making and success is with great planning of work, then working the plan. Therefore, allow me to set a tone, or vision, for how this council will operate over the next four years.
My vision for Annandale is simple. I want Annandale to be a destination and not a drive by. I foresee new businesses making Annandale home because of its connection to the world (i.e. high speed broadband), skilled and innovated workforce, and tax structure. I foresee new families calling Annandale home because of our geography, schools, and security provided by our police and fire departments. I foresee pride instilled in our residents and visitors because of solid infrastructure, vibrant downtown, our amenities, and especially our service organizations that selfishly dedicate time because the want to and not because they have to.
After the worst economic downturn in America’s history since the great depression, I believe we are at the forefront of an economic boom. We are on the verge of truly exciting times in America and especially in Annandale. We must be ready to take advantage of every opportunity that may come our way but maintain a baseline so our spending and taxes do not get out of control.
In the coming months we will be tasked with making many decisions that will better our community. However, some of those decisions may come at a cost. Therefore, we as a council must determine if the benefits out-weigh the costs. It is my plan to support only those projects that have direct benefits to the community without raising the tax burden on our citizens and businesses. To all who will be proposing projects, especially those that will raise our taxes, I challenge you to do your homework and demonstrate the direct benefits while estimating actual costs. Only then will this council act and decide the fate of that project.
The work done by this city council will be judged daily but the true results will not be realized until years, maybe decades, after we are no longer serving. Hence, we have an obligation not to screw up the good work and vision the previous councils have given us. We may not have all of the answers or the expertise, but I am confident that our council and city staff has the knowledge and skills to find the answers and seek the expertise to overcome any challenge.
I was raised that if you borrow something, you bring it back in better condition than you found it. It will be this council’s intention to leave Annandale in a better condition than when we started.
So, let’s all do great work and have fun doing so. Thank you.