A look at city council candidates
Pete Phillips Pete Phillips is a professional painter and owner of Jedi Painting. He is also studying at Bemidji State University to become a social studies teacher. Phillips previously served a term on the Wadena City Council from 2005-2009. He ...
Pete Phillips is a professional painter and owner of Jedi Painting. He is also studying at Bemidji State University to become a social studies teacher.
Phillips previously served a term on the Wadena City Council from 2005-2009. He ran in the 2008 primary and 2010 general election unsuccessfully to be a state representative with the DFL.
Phillips is the president of the Wadena City Library Board, and is also on the board of directors for the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Phillips and his wife, Shari, have three children.
Phillips said he missed the city council, and his biggest regret was stepping down.
"In retrospect, I wish I would have stayed," he said. "It's a better fit for me and my family, and public service is very important to me."
Phillips said the biggest issue facing the city is the need for jobs and economic development.
"Wadena needs to grow," he said.
Phillips, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, also said taxes need to be kept low while maintaining essential services.
Phillips added that he stands out because of his passion for the Wadena City Council and his experience.
"I worked hard in my previous term, and I will continue to work hard. My door is always open," he said. "I'm dedicated to Wadena."
Brian Hillesland is the owner of Jefferson Hearing Aid Center and has been in the hearing health care field since 1990. He has been a Wadena resident since 1980.
Hillesland is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church and Wadena Rotary, and has served as president of those organizations within the last five years. Also, he and his wife, Patti, have two grown sons.
Hillesland chose to run after a couple of people asked if he would. After talking to other people - including some current council members - he decided to file. He said he is not dissatisfied with the council, but with a couple of vacancies coming up, he wanted to get involved in civic affairs.
Hillesland said the wellness center would be one of the biggest issues facing the city. The design has to be finalized, and he said it was important to keep the wellness center operational by working within budget.
Other issues, Hillesland said, were normal aspects of a town, such as streets, water and sewers being put off after the tornado; aspects he feels should remain in focus.
"With any municipality, it's tough to make ends meet nowadays," he said.
Hillesland said he stands out as a candidate by experience of running a business, involvement in community organizations, having a rational point of view rather than making emotional decisions and having good judgment.
Gillette Kempf is the owner of An Open Book, previously known as Borealis Books, when it was located across the street.
"I've been a downtown business owner since September of 2006," she said.
Kempf's past and present community involvements include the Wadena County Historical Society, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and the Wadena United Methodist Church. She lives with her husband, John, their two boys, John's mother and a foreign exchange student they are hosting until June. Kempf's mother also lives in Wadena.
Kempf, who also ran for city council in 2010 and lost by a narrow margin, said she chose to run for office because she wants to see Wadena flourish as a destination.
Kempf also said there is a recent trend of young, married professionals moving into small towns, and she would like to see Wadena pick up some of that traffic. She added that she picked Wadena as a good place to raise her children, and she wants to do her part to serve the community.
Kempf said the biggest issue facing the city is the aging population combined with the "brain drain" phenomenon of young people graduating from high school, going to college and then taking their talents and skills elsewhere, instead of bringing those talents and skills back to Wadena.
Kempf said she stands out by experience in many different communities, having lived in six different states.
"I'm a fresh new voice," she said. "I would provide balance to the city council by adding the perspective of a newer resident."