It's hard for me to figure out just exactly where candidates stand on various issues and I figured it might be the same for other students so I decided to ask them what they would like to ask the candidates . I got so many that I had to narrow the options down to four main questions so I wouldn't swamp the candidates. Both candidates were sent the same four questions, just for the record.
First question was why the 6-4 legislation (student housing thing lowering the number of students that can be in a house from six to four) was created in the first place and whether it would come up in the future. Bell said he thought the 6-4 was created in an attempt to "minimize the apparent problem the neighborhoods have in dealing with the increase of student housing through rental units." Obvious, but ok.
Ness said that he wants to create "a dynamic, 'Dinkytown-like' neighborhood for students and young professionals, rather than spreading students out in rental properties across the city with sub-par landlords." For those of you that don't know, Dinkytown is the moniker for a particular college district in south Minneapolis that's basically like a mini town with student housing and amenities within walking distance. Google it if you want to know more.
Second question was how the mayoral candidates could make taxi's more accessible to students. Bell said He'd like to get together with students and talk about what they want as far as access to transportation . Ness said that he voted against the deregulation of taxi cab rates in the City Council because he didn't want customers being taken advantage of if a driver changed their rate from day to night and that Taxi drivers must give one week's notice before they can change their rates.
Next, I asked whether the candidates knew about Honeywell having dumped toxic waste into Lake Superior and what they could do to stop it. Bell said that he knew a lot about the dumping and that it's one of the reasons he's running for Mayor. He said that current officials aren't doing anything about it and that they don't see the larger picture. He said 1400 barrels were dropped into Lake Superior in the 1960's and their toxicity potential isn't known. He also mentioned that some of the barrels are only 1 mile from Duluth's water intake. Ness didn't know anything about it but said that Superior is a valuable resource that will bring consequences if mistreated. He also said he feels very strongly about the environment and wouldn't tolerate pollution.
Lastly, I asked what the candidates thought of students in general , what they thought of students being in Duluth now and what they would do to keep them here when they graduate. Bell said he loves the energy students have and their drive to control their destiny. He said he liked meeting the friends of the two kids he's had that have gone to college and that he went to UMD himself and graduated in 1972. Ness also is a UMD alumnus and said students give a strong support for the community of Duluth. He said students are vital to the community and it's progress.
It's something to chew on, hopefully this can help students decide on a candidate.