Voters must narrow crowded mayor field
By Jeffrey Pieters
The city race with the greatest proliferation of candidates -- the Rochester mayor's race -- also is bristling with opinions.
Several of this year's five mayoral hopefuls even disagree over the legal power of the office.
Candidates include incumbent Chuck Canfield, Mayo administrator Ardell Brede, former city council member Paul Myhrom, O'Neill's Pizza Pub co-owner Shannon O'Neill, and self-described entertainer Al Schumacher.
Arranged alphabetically, here are the candidates:
Styling himself after longtime Mayor Chuck Hazama, Ardell Brede says he plans to bring "a fresh spirit" of fun to the mayor's office.
When he saw Hazama this summer, Brede said, the former mayor told him, "You've done all the things that I did."
Except served as mayor.
"I think I would be a mayor that people would be proud of," he said.
Brede said he brings a diverse set of experiences to the table. He was a member of the City Planning and Zoning Commission and led volunteer efforts ranging from a United Way campaign to bringing the University of Minnesota marching band to concerts here the past eight years.
He said he supports the city's current fight against the DM&E; Railroad, but that one day he might prefer stopping the fight and starting negotiations.
"It gets down to, how far do we go?" he said. "I have a hard time saying we continue fighting at all costs. The 'all costs' part bothers me."
Chuck Canfield calls his seven years as mayor "the most exciting and productive years of my life." He'd like one more term, he says, to oversee planning of Cascade Lake and the U.S. 52 project.
"Experience pays," he said. "You know what you're going to get when you elect me."
Canfield said he's been successful building alliances with other cities across southeast Minnesota. Those alliances strengthen Rochester's position with the Legislature, he said.
Canfield said he's solidly behind the city's DM&E; fight, calling it "a fight we can win and must win."
The city's recent growth, averaging about 2 percent per year, is sustainable, Canfield said, but must be better managed.
"We cannot spread infrastructure in every direction," he said. Rather, he said, the city should promote development on lands already near good roads and city utilities.
"That's just good planning," he said.
Known from a previous stint on the city council as the "Mouth of the South," Paul Myhrom makes his second run for mayor this fall.
Myhrom differs from Brede and Canfield with his contention that the mayor's job is that of a powerful chief executive, with the ability to hire and fire city employees. Recent mayors have considered it their job primarily to promote Rochester while exerting relatively quiet influence on city policy -- a; practice Myhrom derides as "kiss every baby and cut every ribbon."
Politically, Myhrom identifies himself as a "conservative Republican," again in contrast to Canfield and Brede, each of whom described himself as having voted for candidates on both sides of the aisle.
Myhrom said he'd end "affirmative action" hiring practices for city jobs and work to cut governmental red tape. His experience as a small business owner helps him identify with the average citizen's concerns, he said.
Some trends, such as rising crime, unrelenting growth and a seemingly widening gulf between local leaders and average citizens, bothered Shannon O'Neill to the point she threw her hat in for mayor.
"Talking with people, you keep hearing the same thing -- how unhappy and distrustful they are of government," she said.
O'Neill wants to bring Rochester back to a time before drug-related crime and 29-story high-rises.
"A lot of people think bigger is better, faster is better," she said. "We don't have to be like everybody else."
She said the city should do more to help small-business owners. She wishes more would be done to help downtown -- and its clusters of historic buildings, particularly -- thrive.
New arrivals to Rochester must be better-informed of community expectations, she said.
"The reason it's a better place to live is we live by these rules," she said. "Some say, 'Hey, I want a free ride.'"
It's probably too late now, but Al Schumacher says the city would have been "a billion dollars better off" if it had taken his advice 25 years ago and bought the cable television system.
"I think time has proved me somewhat of a visionary," he said. "There hasn't been a visionary in city hall in 40 years."
Schumacher, who's run for mayor before but never held elected office, said he'd bring the skills of a superior entertainer to the mayor's job.
He's written poems and songs -- thousands all told, he says -- about the Mayo brothers, about Mayo Park, and about Minnesota.
"I can do more than any man to promote this state," he said. "I have songs about 9-11 that (Bruce) Springsteen, none of these guys can match."
Schumacher, 84, said he's "still pretty spry for a guy my age." He'd work to improve the city's downtown and spice up offerings at Mayo Civic Center.
"What we need is some entertainment, some cabarets, something to draw people downtown," he said.
BOX; Ardell Brede
Address: 653 16th St. S.W.
Family: Wife, Judy; three children, Leslie, Scott and Jennifer; four grandchildren
Work and education: Finance Administrative Support-Administrative Associate at Mayo Clinic; degree in commerce from Austin Junior College; courses in management and executive leadership through University of Minnesota Extension
Community and volunteer activities: Past president of Rochester Community and Technical College Foundation Board, past president of Rochester Area Alumni and Friends of the University of Minnesota, past president and campaign chairman of United Way of Olmsted County, arranged and promoted eight University of Minnesota marching band concerts in Rochester, Rotarian, past president and treasurer of Bethel Lutheran Church, Rochester Quarterbacks Club
Previous government positions: Member of City Planning and Zoning Commission, past president of Rochester Civic Music, appointed to Citizens Advisory Task Force on Mayo Civic Center Arena addition
Top three issues: Developing positive partnerships between Rochester, area townships and Olmsted County, expanding city's commitment to K-12 and post-secondary education, and minimizing -- if not eliminating -- negative impacts of DM&E's; proposed expansion
BOX: Chuck Canfield
Address: 723 10th Ave. S.W.
Family: Wife, Gloria; four children; nine grandchildren
Work and education: Owned Shakeys Pizza in Rochester and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for 35 years; manager at General Motors for 15 years; U.S. Navy veteran; degree in business administration from Indiana University
Community and volunteer activities: Founding member of Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., co-founder of Rochester Boys and Girls Club, board member of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater Rochester Area University Center, sponsored more than 200 youth teams over 35 years, coached youth in soccer, football and baseball, activities chairman and adviser to Gamehaven Council Boy Scouts
Previous government positions: Mayor for past seven years, 2nd Ward city council member for nine years, member of founding Rochesterfest committee, chairman of Rochester Historic Preservation Committee, vice chairman of Olmsted County Park Board
Top three issues: Continue court fight against Dakota, Minnesota &; Eastern Railroad expansion, continue working with county and surrounding cities to manage area growth, hold state Transportation Department to its agreements for speedy completion on U.S. 52 project
BOX: Paul Myhrom
Address: 2311 S. Broadway
Family: Wife, Sharon; son, Roger, age 4
Work and education: Owner of Honest Bike Shop since 1984, commercial real estate owner and previous rental property owner, U.S. Air Force veteran
Community and volunteer activities: Member of American Legion, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and Disabled American Veterans
Previous government positions: 1st Ward city council member, 1993-95
Top three issues: Restoring system of checks and balances by being strong mayor, settling DM&E; issue, ending affirmative action hirings for city positions
BOX: Shannon O'Neill
Address: 116 Sixth Ave. S.E.
Work and education: Co-owner of O'Neill's Pizza Pub
Previous government positions: None
BOX: Al Schumacher
Address: 22 N. Broadway, #303
Work and education: Entertainer, former hunting and fishing guide
Previous government positions: None