To the Editor:
After reading Kelly Johnson's letter (R-E, Jan. 2), I now understand why fewer young families are moving to Red Wing and why Red Wing's population is aging and decreasing. I also understand why so many kids born and raised here leave.
If the letter in fact represents a majority of native Red Wingers, then the message is loud and clear: Don't move to Red Wing, and if you do move to Red Wing do not participate in the community.
Johnson takes issue with the nomination of Chris Simonson to the Port Authority Board. Simonson and his wife moved to Red Wing five years ago. They purchased a home, pay taxes, have three children in public schools, and are simply good citizens. Simonson was interested in volunteering long before John Falconer ever proposed to expand his winery. The fact that two Port members left and Simonson's background is in business and real estate were the reasons he volunteered for the Port openings.
According to Johnson, Simonson doesn't qualify because he is not a native.
Johnson said "the real talent behind our city's success lies in the familiar faces of long-term residents who understand the importance of preserving our heritage." Evidently, those of us who have spent considerable money, time, and labor restoring historic homes and buildings do not appreciate Red Wing's heritage. We would probably be viewed more charitably if we had moved here to open a big box retail store or a chain restaurant.
Currently, almost all elected officials and Port members are "native Red Wingers." Is it hard to imagine there could be a great benefit if newer residents participated with older residents on the Port Board? Is it so hard to believe all of us bring talent to the table that could benefit Red Wing?
I do not believe new residents or native residents have exclusivity to our elected offices or boards. In America, where all of us came from someplace else -- except of course the Native Americans -- it seems odd even to argue about natives versus new.
Everyone living in Red Wing today had an ancestor who was new at one time. Were they excluded from participating in the community when they arrived? If a native Red Winger moves should they be excluded because they are new in a community?
One final quote from Johnson, "So, mayor, who do you care about your wine-drinking friends or the people going to work every day trying to support their families?" I don't know anyone who is not working hard to support his or her family, old residents or new, including Simonson. Perhaps Johnson believes anyone moving to Red Wing is rich. Please believe me, we aren't.