I know we’re all glad the election's over, but let me go back into one aspect of the Crosslake election that caught my attention after the fact.
Weeks after the election I got a hold of a copy of an email that Mark Wessels, recently elected council member, wrote to citizens of the city.
It said a lot of things about the code enforcement ordinance, or “police power ordinance,” that the city council had looked into adopting.
Wessels stated in his email, which he said he sent to 40 or 50 people (requesting that it be forwarded to many more), that mayoral candidate Peter Abler and council incumbent Rusty Taubert supported the code enforcement ordinance.
The code enforcement ordinance, if it was adopted, would allow the city to fine residents who violate city code. The city attorney drafted it after a few instances of chronic code violations. It’s been discussed by the council, but never passed.
I don’t think it’s true that Taubert or Abler support the ordinance. Wessels is straightforward and a strong researcher, but I think he took some liberties when he made this claim.
Abler told me himself that he didn’t support the ordinance as it was drafted. I’ve never seen Taubert show it any favor, either, at any of the monthly council meetings.
Wessels argued that Taubert and Abler had numerous opportunities, but never came out against the ordinance, and he still believes they would support at the very least the concept.
Aside from the claim that Taubert and Abler support the ordinance, Wessels’ email made some claims about the ordinance that I argue are incorrect.
For one, his email states that the code enforcement ordinance would allow staff to “enter your property without your permission or knowledge.” Wessels couldn’t cite over the phone where he saw this, but that could have been because he wasn’t at a computer where he could pull it up.
At any rate, I couldn’t find anything like that sort of permission granted anywhere in the draft ordinance. I also called city staff and asked if the ordinance granted those permissions; I was told that it does not.
Wessels also seemed to believe in his email that all city staff (planning and zoning and administration) would be able to hand out fines, but that’s not necessarily the case. The council would determine which and how many people could issue citations.
In fact, one member of the council favored the council determining who would be issued a citation.
Wessels won the election by a wide margin — he got even more votes than the winning mayor. I don’t think that the email could have made the difference in the election, but I do think it’s important to make the above distinctions.
Wessels stands by his email, and said he’d send it again, though he did say he would have made sure Abler and Taubert were for the draft ordinance.
He also feels there’s a bit of an injustice being done to him. He says claims have been made that he wanted to fire planning and zoning staff and move that department to the county, and said that isn’t what he wanted.
The city spoke this election. We had an amazing voter turnout. I live in Crosslake, too, and I’ll stand by the decisions we citizens made.
It will certainly be interesting to watch the choices and changes our new council makes in 2013 and beyond.