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Q&A with Ward 1 Afton challenger Simon Wirth

Simon Wirth

• Age: 31

• Address: 4135 Penfield Court S., Afton

• Occupation: Stay-at-home dad

• Education: Bachelor's of arts in communication, University of Wisconsin

• Family: Wife, two children

• Years lived in Afton: Two years in Afton, but I grew up in Lakeland. I've considered myself a resident of the St. Croix Valley since I was 5 years old.

• Civic involvement: Lower St. Croix Valley Fire Department

Why are you running for City Council?

I enjoy the fellowship of our community, and I would be honored if elected to represent Ward 1 for the next four years on the Afton City Council.

Additionally, my formal training is in finance — working in the private sector — and my analytic approach and thorough understanding of the budgetary process would be one of my strongest assets that I will bring to the council.

What are the biggest issues or challenges Afton faces?

We need to promote growth in our business community.

We have a spread-out population and a lot of roads that need to be paid for.

It is a priority to carefully manage the engineering and the financing of the road maintenance in order to protect our future.

How do you plan to address these issues?

Promoting ideas such as low-interest loans for new businesses, as well as partnering with current businesses to make sound investments that will create long-term growth and sustainability, such as developing marketing strategies to raise awareness of our business district throughout the Twin Cities.

We also need to accommodate and work with our village businesses during the downtown improvement project construction in order to minimize the impact upon their revenue.

We need to maintain the quality of our roads without considerably impacting the general fund, borrowing against our future, or significantly impacting our resident's pocketbook. We're playing catch-up from 10 years ago when the majority of our roads were paved or repaved, an initiative that was poorly handled as we can now see. Since the majority of the roads needing work are city roads, it seems we're on our own with no help from the county or state. I will work hard to provide low-cost solutions. For example, asphalt can be mined from current roads to create new roads, a measure that could potentially be utilized to lower costs.

I will be thoroughly involved in making sure our city gets the highest quality for the best price, by leveraging our city's strong reputation.

Last but not least, I will continue to advocate for responsibly managing residential growth within our borders in order to preserve our rural character.

What distinguishes you from the other candidate?

My opponent, if elected, will have served 12 years on the Afton City Council by the end of the upcoming term. If afforded the opportunity, I vow to serve a maximum of two terms, eight years.

Any other thoughts?

The two councilmembers currently up for re-election for Afton City Council have a combined total of 20 years served. If re-elected that number will grow to more than a quarter century—28 years. While we should applaud these gentlemen for their tireless service and make it known that their contributions will never go unnoticed, it is my concern that there are inherent risks that we can be confronted with when we allow individuals to dominate our government.

I believe it is time to introduce Afton City Council with fresh blood and new ideas. I have both, but I'm also committed to maintaining the values we all hold with such high regard.

I plan on raising my young family in our beloved Afton, and I promise to work my hardest every day to serve in the best interest of our community.