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Rochester City Council candidates meet the voters

Candidates for Rochester's Ward 5 city council seat met voters for the first time in a public forum Wednesday by the Washington Neighborhood Association.

Sankar Bandi, Renee Kragnes , Shaun Palmer , Randy Staver and Jan Throndson are running to replace outgoing council member Bob Nowicki in the most-populated race in this year's election. An Aug. 10 primary will narrow the field to two.

Candidates were invited to introduce themselves to an audience of about 25 people at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

Throndson spoke first. "I'm compassionate about the city," he said. "I believe in the city, and I filed to run because I think we need a strong voice to represent the Fifth Ward."

Throndson is a lifelong city resident and works at the Federal Medical Center. He is involved in veterans issues and said he will concentrate on law enforcement if elected.

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"I won't look down the aisle to see which way the wind is blowing," he said. "You'll always know where I'll stand — I'll stand with constituents."

Next up was Palmer, who spoke of his desire to guide Rochester to attain the standard of a "great city." Setting higher standards for developers is part of that, he said.

Palmer, who also grew up in Rochester, works in the city's Building Safety Department. He would give up his position there if elected.

"I'm a true believer in partnership," he said, "because if we're partners, we don't lose."

Bandi, a computer programmer at Mayo Clinic, spoke of his desire to "give back" to the city he has called home for the last 11 years.

"I appreciate the opportunities the community has given me," he said. "Good jobs, an excellent school system and a safe neighborhood. This is my way to give back.

"Together, we can make Rochester an even better place to live and work," Bandi said.

Kragnes, an avid council-watcher and past candidate for city council president, spoke on public safety as "very, very key."

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She advocated the city adopt standards for preventing crime through architectural design — arranging developments in ways that outdoor activities are visible to more people.

"You can't totally prevent crime, but you can do things," she said. "I'm very much for supporting neighborhoods and keeping everything as safe as we possibly can."

Last up was Randy Staver, endorsed by the incumbent as the best choice to replace him.

Staver has served on numerous local public boards in more than a decade of public service. He is chairman of the Rochester Downtown Alliance and serves on the city Charter Commission.

"I've tried to prepare myself," he said.

Neighborhood issues are important, Staver said, but so are the larger issues facing Rochester, including the prospect of ongoing reductions in state financial aid.

"We've got to be more self-sufficient," he said. "We've got to be smarter with the hard-earned tax dollars we have."

Ward 5 covers an area generally situated in northeast Rochester.

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