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Huber faces two challengers in Prescott Mayor race

PRESCOTT--Besides for the school referendum, voters in Prescott will head to the polls next Tuesday to select their mayor for the next two years. 

Incumbent Mark Huber is facing a challenge from At-Large Council Member David Hovel and write-in candidate Randy Rowan.

They were provided with questionnaires by the Herald. Huber and Hovel sent responses. Attempts to reach Rowan were unsuccessful by the Herald’s print deadline. Answers have been edited for space purposes.

Please give a brief description of yourself. Include information such as age, family, where you live and for how long, and list any educational, life or public service experiences which you believe will assist you in the position you’re seeking.

HUBER: I grew up in Willmar, Minn. I’ve been a hospital administrator in Duluth for 22 years and a retired resident of Prescott for 13 years. I’m married to Anita and we are the parents of two children and grandparents to four. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and my Masters’ degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota. My working skill set includes: Fostering a customer service culture, listening and problem solving, mapping and improving services processes, strategic and long range planning and coaching and team facilitation.

HOVEL: I’m 51-years-old, single with two children--Jessica and Michael. I am a lifelong resident of the City of Prescott and have lived on Dakota Street for the past 25 years. I have 24 years of municipal government experience, with seven working for the City of Prescott and the last 17 for the City of River Falls. During my time in Prescott, I was deputy clerk/treasurer and zoning administrator. In River Falls, I am a building inspector and assist with zoning code enforcement. I am currently one of the at-large council members for the City of Prescott and have been for the past four years. I served on the Prescott Volunteer Fire Department for just over 10 years and an active Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor for 17 years.

If you are a challenger, explain how and why you chose to seek the position and what areas particularly interest you; if you are an incumbent, discuss the committees on which you have served, review any accomplishments to which you feel you have made a particular contribution and share your intentions for involvement during a new term.

HUBER: I have been Mayor of Prescott for two years and was an alderman for four years previously. I’ve been a member of the Prescott Planning Commission and Industrial Economic Development for eight years each. If I’m re-elected, we will enhance the peaceful enjoyment of life in Prescott, preserving a quality, small town feel; we will guide change based upon our comprehensive and five-year strategic plans, the compass needles for the community and Council going forward. 

HOVEL: I have always been interested in local government, and was intrigued when Prescott citizens began encouraging me to run for mayor two years ago. However, my son was still in high school and I wanted to be able to attend his activities and felt that I couldn’t dedicate the time needed as a mayor at that time. When citizens again encouraged me to run this year, I decided that the timing is right to take the next step. I feel that with my background I can help make a difference in Prescott. I would like to continue and expand the collaboration that exists between local governments and organizations.

With the new distribution company coming into town, what do you want to see for growth in Prescott?

HUBER: We will continue to pursue strategies of constantly making improvements in the “peaceful enjoyment of home” for our residents by:

--Screening new businesses interested in securing property in our remaining 28 park acres that will bring a higher number of “good paying jobs” per acre occupied.

--Making consistent progress on business park and tourism growth in order to reduce taxes.

--Studying the possible “preferential option” for developing new housing on existing and available lots within the current City limits before responding to developer interest in further annexation.

--Finding the right location and financing for the development of Habitat ECO Village II and housing for single independent living seniors.

HOVEL: I would like to see more commercial and industrial growth along Hwys. 10 and 29. This type of growth normally does not put as much demand on city services and yet adds to the tax base. Businesses will provide jobs not only for existing residents but will hopefully bring new residents to the city. This should spark the need for new homes, which in will turn provide more opportunities for construction companies and other related businesses.

What is your opinion on the school referendum?

HUBER: Personally, I have always regarded our high school graduates as our seed corn for the future. We will continue to need a work force that is well prepared to help our local companies fill their staffing positions so they can run their businesses effectively. We are looking to our Pierce County School Districts, CVTC, and specialty training programs to meet our future work force needs. That said, it is the job of the Mayor and City Council to grow the taxable investment of capital in our industrial parks, bring jobs to the community and grow our population and residential units so the cost of municipal government can be spread more broadly and city taxes can go down.

HOVEL: There are basically two opinions on the school referendum and I believe it will be a close vote. Whatever happens, I believe that the city needs to continue to work closely with the school district to support education in our town.

Prescott has had multiple narcotic busts within the last 12 months. What do you think the community can do to solve this problem?

HUBER: Don’t read the indicator of multiple busts incorrectly. This is simply evidence of a Police Commission and Department aggressively moving out into the community to send a “zero tolerance” message to lowlifes constantly looking for a place to hide and prosper. News Flash: If drugs are your business, Prescott is going to deal with you before you can see it coming!

HOVEL: I’m not sure that the community can completely solve this problem, but it can definitely help control the problem by working with our law enforcement departments. If residents have suspicions or see unusual or questionable activities, they should call the police department and let them do their job. Our police have done a great job in the past 12 months at minimizing this problem and they will continue to with our help.

Identify and elaborate on any other issues facing the Prescott City Council which you feel to be important.

HUBER: The City is about to embark on doing an update of its 10-year Comprehensive and five-year strategic plans. We need to have the Council members endorse a process that will reach out into the community for discussion of priorities, options and methods with a good cross section input from readers and leaders. Finally, the Mayoral term of office should be extended to three years, just like the Alderman positions were recently. To date, I have established networking relations with some 11 outside partnering organizations. It is difficult to make service commitments for leadership positions in these organizations when the Prescott Mayor’s term of office is set to be up for election every other year.

HOVEL: Growth for the city will be another challenge if adjacent property owners in surrounding townships don’t want to develop their land. The city could become somewhat landlocked. In addition, the wastewater treatment plant is an area that will be need to expanded as we grow and our present location does not have much space for expansion.