Mayor candidates share their views
Wayne Wolden Wayne Wolden has been the mayor of Wadena since 1999, and works as the local M State business manager. He also served on the Wadena City Council from 1992-1996. Additionally, he ran for the office of state representative in 1996, but...
Wayne Wolden has been the mayor of Wadena since 1999, and works as the local M State business manager. He also served on the Wadena City Council from 1992-1996. Additionally, he ran for the office of state representative in 1996, but lost to incumbent Roxann Daggett.
Wolden's other community involvement includes being recently named to the Board of Trustees of the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation, the board of directors of the National Joint Powers Alliance and the Wadena Lions, where he is currently treasurer. He is a past president of the Wadena Hockey Association.
Wolden received the League of Minnesota Cities C.C. Ludwig Award in 2011. He is married to Lori Wolden, and they have three grown children.
Wolden said he ran for mayor the first time in 1998 because he missed being involved in local government. He said his reason for seeking re-election this year is having much to do, including the rail grant, new wellness center and new business prospects. He said he wants to help Wadena sustain itself and grow, and he will continue to throw his name in the hat.
Wolden said the biggest issue facing Wadena is the completion of the regional wellness center, which received state funding in September. The second biggest issue is a southeast Wadena infrastructure project that would fix sewers. He said some other items included the new school, the rail grant for the industrial park, the trail grant for the bike trail going north along U.S. Highway 71, empty lots left by the June 2010 tornado, a new townhome development, businesses and Local Government Aid, which makes up more than 50 percent of the city's budget.
As far as what makes him stand out, Wolden said there is a standing joke that he is the tallest mayor in Minnesota, at 6-feet-6-inches. He said his leadership experience also plays a significant role and that he has given much to the community since arriving in 1981.
"The relationships built over the years can only benefit our community," he said.
Mike Burcham is semi-retired and has worked in the construction field most of his life. For the last 11 years, he has also worked as house manager for Sauk Centre-based Residential Living Solutions. He is currently listed as a transportation specialist for the company.
A single father with two disabled children, Burcham is the president of a motorcycle riding club, Brotherhood For the Disabled, which works with disabled people and wounded veterans. He has also been involved in building accessible ramps in the tri-county area, as well as helping Kruzin 4 Kids.
Burcham has served as Vice President of the Wadena County Fair Board. Along with his two children at home, he has two grown children and five grandchildren.
Burcham, who ran for mayor previously, said he decided to run because he doesn't believe the incumbent mayor should have a free ride.
Wolden has sometimes run unopposed.
Burcham also said he was concerned about waste of money.
Money for the downtown lamp posts and trash cans could have gone to road work, sewer repairs, police officers and other basic needs, Burcham said, adding that he believed it was important to have more hours and staff for law enforcement to stop crime and hold back the tide of methamphetamine and other drugs.
"It doesn't feel like there's enough being done," he said.
Burcham said waste of money was the biggest issue facing Wadena. He also said fair treatment for all areas of town was important, and said the city was hiring some people based on family ties rather than qualifications.
Burcham added that the southwest parks in "the rich side of town," for example, get more attention than parks in the north side of town, with a more working-class demographic. He also said differences in the south and north skating rinks were other examples of how people on the north side are being treated unfairly.
"Everybody needs to be equal," Burcham said. "It's not fair to the working class."
Other issues important to Burcham were bringing in more businesses and jobs.
Burcham said he stands out as a candidate by being down to earth and able to relate to people.