Candidate Profiles: McGregor Council

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Jason Echard

Sally Kay Schneider

Deborah Scott

McGregor voters will have a choice between three candidates to fill two open seats on the McGregor City Council when they head to the polls for city and school board elections on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the McGregor Public Library. The highest vote-getters will serve four-year terms on the council. Joe Muehlbauer has chosen not to run for re-election, but the council’s other incumbent, Jason Echard, is seeking his second term. He will face off against newcomers Deborah Scott and Sally Kay Schneider. The candidates recently shared their thoughts on some of the issues that are important to McGregor residents.

Jason Echard

Jason Echard was first elected to the McGregor Council in 2015, and is seeking his second term. He has lived in the community for 28 years and is married to Chris Jamesen, long-time owner of the Old Time Shoppe. They have two cats, Izzy and Dexter. For the past 18 years, Echard has worked as a merchandiser for Great Lakes Coca-Cola. Prior to that, he worked at the casino in Marquette for eight years in a security and surveillance position.

Why are you running for council?

During my time on the McGregor Council, I have served as chairperson and co-chairperson of the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and the Marquette-McGregor Police Department. I have been devoted to doing what is important and what I think is best for the city and the people of McGregor.

How do you think the city can/should support economic development and business growth? 

I think it is very important to support our economic development committee as we work to expand local business growth. Members of the committee are Rogeta Halvorson and Charles Carroll.

Pat Dillman has offered to donate her building in the historic Masonic Block to the city of McGregor, opening up opportunities for development in the prime downtown location. The city council recently approved moving forward with acquisition of the property. Do you agree with the move, and what do you think the city should do with the building once it’s acquired?

Dillman’s offer to donate the historic Masonic building to the city is a positive development to potentially provide the city with a great opportunity for growth in our business community. I do have a concern, however, as there would be significant expenses involved to make the building ready for sale or as a rental property, particularly when there are other basic needs for the city, like replacing the storm sewers.

Looking at the city budget, is there a specific area where you’d like to see spending increased or decreased? Why?

It would be my recommendation that we establish a replacement schedule for the city’s maintenance equipment and have defined criteria to only replace any equipment when the need is obvious. It is not practical, however, to keep any equipment so long that it has no replacement/trading value. 

I most certainly support whatever we can do to keep McGregor looking its best. Visitors will continue to return to our beautiful area for its natural beauty and for our quaint buildings, some dating to the 1860s.

Looking into the future, how do you envision McGregor?

As I look to the future, I envision McGregor continuing to grow in tourism and the many area recreational opportunities. It will be our responsibility to take care of our environment and support plans to guarantee this future.

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police and fire departments and chamber of commerce, and are often viewed as a big community. Do you think the cities should work more together? What are some ways they could do so?

Yes, the mayors of McGregor and Marquette work well together and, hopefully, we can expand that cooperation. We need to continue to realize that local area tourism is an important component of our mutual economic development.

 

Sally Kay Schneider

Sally Kay Schneider has five children and seven grandchildren, and enjoys canning and cooking in her spare time. She is currently the dietary supervisor at Elkader Care Center and also works at Great River Care Center. She was a volunteer for the Red Cross in Biloxi, Miss., following Hurricane Katrina, and served as an EMT for the Caledonia Ambulance.

Why are you running for council?

I think the city council does a great job. I always wanted to be a part of the council, as fresh ideas are always good.

How do you think the city can/should support economic development and business growth?

No answer provided.

Pat Dillman has offered to donate her building in the historic Masonic Block to the city of McGregor, opening up opportunities for development in the prime downtown location. The city council recently approved moving forward with acquisition of the property. Do you agree with the move, and what do you think the city should do with the building once it’s acquired?

I agree with the acquisition  of the Dillman property. I think maybe it should be leased out for retail or an event center and possibly lodging on top.

Looking at the city budget, is there a specific area where you’d like to see spending increased or decreased? Why?

No answer provided.

Looking into the future, how do you envision McGregor?

I think the future of McGregor only brings great things. Vacant buildings are filling up and tourism is expanding.

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police and fire departments and chamber of commerce, and are often viewed as a big community. Do you think the cities should work more together? What are some ways they could do so?

I think Marquette and McGregor work fairly well with each other.

 

Deborah Scott

Deborah Scott retired from the Army after 28 years on Jan. 31, 2015, and decided to move to McGregor—what she considers her hometown—to be close to her parents, David and Carolyn Scott. Her grandparents, Edna and Aquila (Quil) Cords, lived in McGregor for many years, and Edna worked as a nurse at the hospital and Quil owned and operated the McGregor Pharmacy. Scott currently works at Bass Pro/Cabelas in the distribution center. She is a member of the city tree board and county VA commission and is secretary for Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

Why are you running for council?

As a resident of McGregor, I felt a need to be involved with the city.  I love McGregor and want to help it grow and prosper.

How do you think the city can/should support economic development and business growth? 

The city has a great chamber of commerce. The city should promote the opportunity for businesses to come to the area because of the availability of space and tourist traffic. It should also promote the opportunity for pop-up businesses (six-month lease); promote the area as a tourist attraction mentioning Pikes Peak trails, the Mississippi River and all the opportunities for fishing, boating, bird watching, etc; and ensure the city works with the chamber promoting the area.

Pat Dillman has offered to donate her building in the historic Masonic Block to the city of McGregor, opening up opportunities for development in the prime downtown location. The city council recently approved moving forward with acquisition of the property. Do you agree with the move, and what do you think the city should do with the building once it’s acquired?

I would like to thank Pat Dillman for the offer of donating the historic Masonic Block to the city. It is a great piece of history for the area. I do not agree with the acquisition of the building, though. As with most older buildings, renovations and upgrades are required. A great deal of funding would be required to upgrade, repair and renovate the building. I agree it would be a great space for businesses, apartments and condos, and bring in business and tourists to the area, but I recommend that the city sells the property to a developer or someone who would be able to rehab the building and make it available.

Looking at the city budget, is there a specific area where you’d like to see spending increased or decreased? Why?

I need to become more familiar with the budget to answer.

Looking into the future, how do you envision McGregor?

McGregor is a great town in a fantastic part of the country. This area is known as “Little Switzerland” because it reminded our founding fathers of the area of Europe they came from. Let’s promote the business opportunities and building availability. Let’s promote the area attractions of Pikes Peak, the Mississippi River, the trails (both hiking and biking)—just the slower pace for people to “stop and smell the roses” along the way. Along with all the businesses, promote the availability of housing, including houses for rent or purchase, apartments for rent and the Airbnbs within the town. 

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police and fire departments and chamber of commerce, and are often viewed as a big community. Do you think the cities should work more together? What are some ways they could do so?

At one time, the area was one great community. Let’s continue to work together. We have the art center that promotes local artists, the chamber of commerce that promotes both towns and the police and fire department. Great businesses in both towns need to continue to support and grow with each other.

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