Nisswa City Council candidates talk about managing growth – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

NISSWA — Managing Nisswa’s growth to maintain the city’s small-town charm was a common theme at a Nisswa City Council candidate forum held Thursday, September 15, at the Nisswa Community Center.

View the forum on the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce Facebook page where it was livestreamed.


Illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Three city council candidates will compete for two seats in the November 8 general election: Cameron Dorion, Mark Froehle and Jesse Zahn.

Froehle, appointed in February 2021, and Zahn, appointed in March 2022, are currently on the council.

Also part of the candidate forum were Mayor John Ryan, who is running unopposed for a second two-year term, and Joe Hall, who is running unopposed for a two-year council seat.

The candidates shared opening statements and addressed the first question: Why are you running and what will be your top priority if elected?

  • Dorion: He has lived in Nisswa for 23 years, has a family, owns a business in Nisswa and is a Lions club member and volunteer.

His reason for running is simply to help the city as it grows. You want to make sure emergency services have what they need to be successful; advocates fiscal responsibility and transparency; and wants to be part of the decisions regarding a long-term plan for Nisswa to continue to grow properly.

  • Froehle: He graduated from Brainerd High School in 1982 and Brainerd Technical College in 1991. He is a retired Marine and Minnesota National Guard veteran who lived in Bemidji for 25 years but spent weekends in Nisswa before moving here in 2016.

His reason for running is to see through the council’s long-term capital planning campaign and see that growth happens in a reasonable way and that Nisswa does not become a commercial hub town.
His top priority as a liaison with the city’s parks and recreation department is to continue working on a master plan for parks. He anticipates growth and more families with young children in Nisswa, and the parks are large and attract people to the area.

  • Zahn: He is a lifelong Nisswa resident who graduated from university in 2015 and is part of a family business, National Conductor.

He wanted to go back to his roots to serve those who once served him and sees this as an incredible opportunity that he does not take lightly.
Before being appointed to the council, he served on the planning and zoning commission since November 2021.

The city has a great deal of work to do to achieve the growth ahead and will face significant challenges as it moves forward. The city must accommodate infrastructure growth as a priority. I would continue to work for a comprehensive plan to benefit Nisswa residents today and tomorrow, and for residents and those here for a bite to eat.

  • Ryan: He wants to continue the city’s long-range planning efforts so future councils, departments and citizens understand the costs of maintaining the services they already have before adding more.

The top priorities are continuing long-range planning, a comprehensive downtown business plan, and planning and zoning improvements.
It is important to have, maintain and improve the lines of communication and to make sure that citizens are able and encouraged to engage with the city so that the city understands what citizens want and what they don’t want so that they can put together a package that actually delivers. the city in the long term.

  • Living room: He is a lifelong Nisswa citizen who grew up in Lake Edward Township, attending Nisswa Elementary School, Pequot Lakes High School, and college in Bemidji. He lives on the outskirts of the city, has businesses in Nisswa and has been with the Nisswa Fire Department for 18 years, where he is currently deputy chief.

He enjoys serving and hopes to help make decisions that will continue to make this city the place everyone loves and enjoys.
She is running to have a voice for business owners in the community, as well as the fire and police departments and other entities to make sure everything is well supported throughout the city.

He wants to make sure the city handles growth properly and has adequate housing for business employees.

What is your philosophy on the management of taxes, fees and assessments?

  • Dorion: It’s taxpayer money, so I’d get their input and do what’s best for taxpayers. You don’t want to see money spent on pet projects or something that won’t help the city.
  • Froehle: After looking at the budget and needs, the hard part is deciding what to say yes to and what to say no to because the council has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers. Nisswa is growing, but the city has to set a lower ceiling and live within its means.
  • Zahn: The council owes the tax base to be accountable with every dollar spent, whether it’s tax dollars or dollars from the federal government. Infrastructure improvements are needed, but the main root of the infrastructure needs is who lives here.
  • Ryan: The city needs to be responsible and live within its means. That can mean being creative; taxpayers and city staff need to come together; and there has to be an understanding that there is a bottom to the well.

In the current age of inflation, it is difficult to manage needs without raising the tax; however, it has to be done responsibly.

  • Living room: Everyone has to pay their fair share. He is in favor of not spending more. When spending taxpayers’ money, advocate for items that benefit the entire industry and not a small industry. He would like to see the money spent for the benefit of all.

As Nisswa continues to grow with new homes and businesses, what should the city focus on for current residents?

Nisswa Candidate Forum 1.jpg
A Nisswa City Council Candidate Forum was held on Thursday 15th September 2022 at the Nisswa Community Centre.


  • Dorion: People who live here love the small-town feel of Nisswa. He thinks that the city should not grow too much, too fast. With limited space, make sure the people who live here now are well cared for, have good roads, etc., before you get carried away with the construction.
  • Froehle: See how to keep downtown as unique as it is. Have a separation of incoming businesses from downtown businesses that have been here. Determine how to expand needed services with growth and needed infrastructure with development, housing, etc.
  • Zahn: The current citizenry has been here for some time, but the city has an influx of people with prospective homes and businesses. Infrastructure has to keep up with growth. There is a need for city water. Be diligent and considerate about growth and have a plan to do it.
  • Ryan: Maintain the value of what they have in their homes and properties. Consider how best to build workforce housing and consider what utilities might be needed by businesses.
  • Living room: Expand with new homes. Evaluate what space is available in the city and how to allow that to happen. Space is limited in terms of expansion for new developments and new homes.

Regarding the relocation of the recycling center from downtown Nisswa, the candidates agreed that the current site is not suitable.

  • Dorion: He’s outgrowing his spot now. Where it will go is up in the air. It needs to be moved. It’s a matter of finding the right place to move it.
  • Froehle: It has to be moved for security reasons and for expansion. The city is looking towards other areas.
  • Zahn: Many citizens said in a poll that they don’t want it to move. The city is working to find other options. The current location behind the fire room could be a barrier to utilities.
  • Ryan: Due to traffic and use, it is necessary to move it. Nobody wants it in his backyard, but he believes there is a way to move it safely.
  • Living room: He can’t stay where he is, but wonders if the city is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. He asked if the city could ditch a recycling site and go curbside recycling with a company.

Other questions addressed leadership styles (no candidate advocated micromanagement), communication with the public, voting on controversial issues, city staff morale, and support for the volunteer fire department.
Nancy Vogt, editor, can be reached at 218-855-5877 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

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