At its November 5, 2012 meeting, Waseca's City Council passed on state senator Mike Parry's application to fill an empty seat on the Southern Minnesota's small town's Economic Development Authority board. The council members picked Bird's Eye plant manager Phillip Brewer with a 5-0 vote.
Bluestem isn't surprised with the choice, given Parry's sharp criticism of the city after he failed to carry it in the August 14, 2012 primary.
Multiple sources confirmed that the other applicant unnamed in the November 5 city council meeting minutes is Parry:
8a Appointment to Economic Development Authority (EDA)
The City has received the attached applications from two individuals interested in serving on the Economic Development Authority (EDA). There has been one vacancy on the EDA since January 2012, when Bob Mickelson did not apply for re-appointment.
It was moved by Clemons, seconded by Christiansen, to appoint Phillip Brewer to the EDA; the motion carried 5-0.
Brewer is a friend of Parry who supported his bid for Congress, according to primary night coverage by Minnesota Public Radio.
Bluestem's sources were entertained that Parry had applied for the opening after trash talking the town following his primary defeat. Republican voters had favored Quist in Waseca. The Owatonna People's Press reported in District 26 state Sen. Mike Parry discusses election loss, his future:
Mike Parry has no plans to ride off into the political sunset. . . .
During the primary, Parry carried Steele County, but lost two other counties that he has represented since 2010: Rice and his home county of Waseca. While he would have loved to carry Waseca County, he knew it was unlikely.
“I never did think I would do well (in Waseca County). You never win your hometown, knowing the people of Waseca, and the people that vote in Waseca,” Parry said. “You have some strong liberals. Even the independents like Mayor Roy Srp lean to the left. It is what it is. It would have been nice to win Waseca, but it didn’t happen. “
In September the OPP revisited Parry's career once more in Parry proud of work he did for Steele County:
“In Waseca, there is still an intergovernmental power struggle going on, not the cooperation there should be,” he said. “Waseca appears to have a lot of individuals that want to make a name for themselves. There are certain pockets of teamwork, but nobody wants to come together and have a plan. That’s everything from trying to bring an event into town to trying to bring a business into town.”
He added that Waseca officials refuse to listen to cost-saving proposals. Parry would like Waseca to consider eliminating its police department, like the city of Jackson did last year. Parry said Jackson saved $500,000 by deciding to only use county and state officers to police the town of 3,300.
“Do we really need a police department in Waseca, Minnesota?” Parry asked. “I was in law enforcement, and I think the sheriff’s department could handle it just they are doing it in Jackson, Minnesota. Here we have a city council in Waseca that flatly won’t talk about something like this. To me that is being close-minded.”
Mayor Srp replied to Parry's criticisms in In Mayor refutes senator's comments about Waseca:
In response to the Owatonna People’s Press article, “Parry proud of the work he did for Steele County,” I find it difficult to understand how Sen. Parry could hold, let alone express, such a poor opinion of his community.
As mayor of Waseca for nearly eight years, I must respond and defend our community. It is a pleasure to let folks know that Waseca City Staff and City Council work hard to address the needs of our community. When citizens wish to speak to a council member, many times they simply walk across the street or talk over the backyard fence. In Waseca, all seven of us live and work in Waseca. There is no need to travel to St. Paul or Washington, D.C., to see your local representative.
Despite the fact that the state of Minnesota has cut local government aid to Waseca by more than 1.7 million dollars since 2008, the staff and council have kept city taxes flat. Our levy has not increased in the last five years. This is because again, we too, live in this community and see citizens every day and know the daily struggles they endure. Waseca continues to learn to live within its means. We have evaluated city services and implemented service reductions that hopefully have the least negative impact on our citizens’ quality of life. The lights go on when the switch is flipped, the toilets flush, and the police and fire personnel continue to protect and serve, heroically, I might add.
In particular, Mayor Srp objects to Parry's proposal to eliminate the town's police department (and apparently, so do Waseca's citizens):
We have been told by our citizens that public safety is a top priority and that the Waseca Police Department is essential to the safety and wellbeing of our community.
This year the police will respond to over 8,000 calls for service, these will include public nuisances, assaults, traffic drug and alcohol enforcement, criminal damage, accident investigation, burglaries, thefts, and near drownings. So to answer Sen. Parry’s question, “Do we need a Police Department in Waseca?” Does he need a Police Department in Waseca? Absolutely!
The good citizens of Waseca will soon elect a new senator. Be she/he a Republican, Democrat, or independent, left right or middle, is not as important as a fair and impartial representative. Waseca will accept and work with the person the people choose just as we always have.
Former Waseca City Council member Mike Parry will return to the city’s Economic Development Authority following a 6-1 vote at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Parry will represent the Chamber of Commerce on the EDA, replacing Cindy Hawkins who resigned the position. Chamber president Kim Foels said the chamber board of directors recommended Parry as her replacement.When he was asked if he was interested in the position, Parry said he could be if no one else wanted to fill it.
“I know the make-up and everyone knows I’m pro-Waseca, even in my travels,” Parry said.
He previously served on the EDA as a city council representative from 2007 to 2008 when he lost a re-election bid in Ward 3.
The lone vote against Parry’s appointment came from former EDA chair and current council member Mark Christiansen who defeated Parry for his council seat in November 2008.
Christiansen motion not to approve Parry’s appointment was defeated by a 1-6 vote after council member John Clemons said he was “so appalled” by the motion that he cut off discussion by calling the question.
Christiansen said he opposed Parry’s appointment for several reasons, including his attendance record during the 21 months he served on the EDA.
“His attendance was awful,” said Christiansen. Records indicate Parry attended 40 percent of meetings in 2007 and 50 percent in 2008. Christiansen said the goal for commission members is 75 percent attendance.
In addition, he said, the EDA already had three members who also serve on the Waseca Development Corporation, as Parry does.
“I thought we should have a different voice, a different view point.”
Council member Cindy Coy said, however, that the chamber selected Parry and the council has a responsibility to support the group’s choice.
“I’m willing to give him a second chance,” said Mayor Roy Srp about Parry’s previous absences on the EDA.
Parry’s appointment was approved with the comment from council member Les Tlougan that Parry should be made aware of the concerns about his prior attendance.
The motion to appoint him passed 6-1, with Christiansen voting against it.
Apparently the City Council and Mayor learned their lesson and passed this time on Parry.
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Photo: Phillip Brewer and Mike Parry at Parry's primary night party in Waseca, via Minnesota Public Radio.