Mary Jo Rahja

Mary Jo Rahja

Occupation: Mayor

Spouse/family: Son, John, and his family

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Economic Development Authority (EDA), Library Board, Planning and Zoning, Community Education, Minnesota Museum of Mining, Chisholm Beautification Association (CBA), Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Public Safety Building Committee, Central Iron Range Sanitary Sewer District Board (CIRSSD)

Past experience as a candidate: Elected to a four-year term as city councilor, appointed mayor in January 2018

• How do you define the role of mayor?

A mayor has to have a plan to move the city forward, a commitment to serve and a willingness to take on challenges for the benefit of the city.

• What do you see as the city’s greatest challenge, and how would you address it?

The city’s greatest challenge is the repair and update of city buildings and finding the resources to do it.

• Are you in favor of retail expansion along Highway 169 near Chisholm’s east entrance? Why or why not?

I am in favor of retail expansion along Highway 169, or any other location within the city — whether it be to fill the empty buildings on main street or commercial sites around town. If a business wants to locate here, I think we should embrace them.

• Rank the city's core services as you’d prioritize them, and which current services might be reduced, improved or eliminated?

Our city services, are all important and necessary. Of course we should we should continue to maintain them and make them as efficient as possible.

• The city council has discussed introducing a rental ordinance. What is your stance?

I feel having a rental ordinance is contingent on how we implement the process. We need guidelines — the question is, to what extent.

• Where do you see Chisholm five years from now?

I see Chisholm as a destination, attracting not only tourists, but people that want to be a part of our town — building homes in Bethlehem Greens, enjoying our trail systems or renting kayaks on the lake, picnicking in one of our parks or meeting friends at the “Iron Kettle.”

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John Champa

John Champa

Occupation: Self employed owner of an electronic surveillance company

Spouse/family: Married to Mary Champa, four sons: James, Adam, Matthew and Riley; and granddaughter, Lexi

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Northern Traxx ATV club and past officer, also served on most city boards in my previous term as mayor

Past experience as a candidate: Served two terms as Chisholm Mayor, left that post just short of 12 years ago after not seeking re-election

• How do you define the role of mayor?

Mayor is the leader/coach of the team. It's my job to keep the city pointed in a positive direction, both on paper and in the public’s perception. It’s also my job to make sure the public and employees feel things are being handled correctly in the event of tragedy.

• What do you see as the city’s greatest challenge, and how would you address it?

If your population continues to shrink, everything else follows. A few communities are growing here. We should look at what they’re doing that is making that happen. The yellow bag continues to be an issue, and does why it takes so long to tear houses down that need to go.

• Are you in favor of retail expansion along Highway 169 near Chisholm’s east entrance? Why or why not?

Tough question. Building on that area essentially moves main street out there, alienating some who’ve been running business here for years. With that said, when I travel and want to stop for food, gas, etc., I'm looking for it along the highway, not just a exit with an arrow.

• Rank the city's core services as you'd prioritize them, and which current services might be reduced, improved or eliminated?

Our job as a city is to provide emergency services, public utilities/works and recreational opportunities in that order. Unfortunately, as our population shrinks or costs go up, those services get reduced from the bottom up so growth is important to maintain services.

• The city council has discussed introducing a rental ordinance. What is your stance?

I'm not against a rental ordinance, but there’s a bigger problem. Bad renters destroy property, eviction takes months and owners get the utility bills, cleanup and repair. County and state politicians need to makes some better laws so the landlords have some protections and the tenants are held responsible.

Where do you see Chisholm five years from now?

Twelve years ago, I left the city financially strong, well run and the council worked well together. About six months ago, I was bombarded with requests to run again. What we built back then was lost. I want to get Chisholm back to that place, and in less than five years.

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