PINE ISLAND — There was a lot of agreement, and no one had a cross word for their opponents.

On Wednesday night, three candidates for a pair of City Council seats answered questions for nearly 50 minutes, followed by two candidates for mayor answering questions by moderator Mitch Massman, the city's economic development representative from Community and Economic Development Associates.

Mike Hildenbrand, a candidate for city council, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Mike Hildenbrand, a candidate for city council, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

All three City Council candidates — current council member Mike Hildenbrand, as well as Brandi Veith Staloch and Jonathan Pahl — plus mayoral candidates Terrilynn Twaddle and current City Council member David Friese, talked about the need for a new wastewater treatment plant in the near future.

Terrilynn Twaddle, a candidate for mayor, poses for a portrait on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Terrilynn Twaddle, a candidate for mayor, poses for a portrait on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

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Friese said that while the city is growing, particularly toward and into Olmsted County, the companion to that growth is adding to the city's services. That means a new wastewater treatment plant, something the city has started putting away money to afford. The price of a new plant could run the city $25 million.

David Friese, a candidate for mayor, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
David Friese, a candidate for mayor, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

The differences between Friese and Twaddle were nuanced.

For example, when it comes to appointing members of the City Council to various city boards, Twaddle said she'd want to start with asking whether that board or commission was still necessary.

"We shouldn't keep doing something just because it's what we've always done," she said.

Then she'd ask each council member where their passions lay and appoint them to that board, only picking and choosing if one board was overrepresented.

Friese said as a City Council member, he ended up on boards where he thought he would not be interested, but enjoyed learning about a part of city government he had not considered in the past.

"It’s amazing how many of the people in this city have something to teach us,” he said.

While Friese said he would use his four years as a member of the City Council to guide him in being mayor, Twaddle talked about her experience running a business, saying that experience — managing a budget, building coalitions of people, communicating — would serve her as mayor.

To that end, she said the city should update its comprehensive plan to help guide it into the next steps.

Among the City Council candidates, Hildenbrand also talked about how his experience on the council already would serve him in another term.

Veith Staloch repeated her desire to be a voice for the community.

Brandi Veith Staloch,  a candidate for city council, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Brandi Veith Staloch, a candidate for city council, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

"Having differing opinions is good," she said. "I’m not here for me. I’m here for the community."

Meanwhile, Pahl stressed the importance of focusing on what benefits the city most, and leaving preconceptions at the door.

Jonathan Pahl, a candidate for city council, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
Jonathan Pahl, a candidate for city council, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, in Pine Island. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

"It's about doing what’s best for the 3,600 people that call Pine Island their home," he said. "You need to be apolitical in the job. If all five people can do that, we'll all benefit."

All three City Council candidates said they would consider expanding recreation opportunities in the city. Veith Staloch said she'd consider a splash pad or other amenities that might make Pine Island more of a destination for families in the region.

Hildenbrand suggested the city invest in ball fields that aren't right next to flood-prone areas along the Zumbro River. He also suggested more staff for the city's parks department to maintain parks and amenities.

Pahl agreed with the idea of city-owned ballparks. But like the investment in the city pool, he thought new ball fields needed to be brought before the voters.

"That's one of those times where you talk to the community for their input," he said.

Early voting has begun, and election day is Nov. 3. Two individuals will be elected to the City Council, and either Friese or Twaddle will replace Rod Steele as mayor of Pine Island.