Mike Wilson and incumbent Sean Dowse are running to be Red Wing's mayor in the general election.

Before the primary election the candidates answered a few questions about themselves and their plans and policies if elected.

Both men answered a second round of questions to give voters a better understanding of who they are and how they would work for the city if elected.

Mile Wilson

Mike Wilson will be on the ballot for Red Wing mayor on Nov. 3. Photo provided by Wilson.
Mike Wilson will be on the ballot for Red Wing mayor on Nov. 3. Photo provided by Wilson.


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Q: Why should fellow citizens elect you the mayor of Red Wing?

A: I have a passion for this city and an appreciation of the special place it holds in the hearts of many people. I’ve lived here my entire life, raised a family and run a business in Red Wing and I’m totally committed to seeing Red Wing grow and prosper. Policies and positions are important, but I think people also want to know that their leaders have a passion for the city they want to lead, and that they will always make decisions based on what’s best for the citizens.

Q: Whoever is elected mayor will likely oversee the city as it transitions away from the pandemic and its impacts. What steps would you take to help the city’s economy rebound? How would you ensure that residents stay safe and healthy?

A: The mayor has to be able to pull together all of the important constituencies -- the business community, health care professionals and labor -- to design a plan that protects public health while at the same time allowing for the maximum amount of economic freedom and activity. We’re blessed in Red Wing to have the world-class expertise of the Mayo clinic Health system as a resource to lean on as we move past this pandemic.

Q: The Prairie Island nuclear plant’s two units are scheduled to close in 2033 and 2034. Should Red Wing lobby keep the Prairie Island nuclear plant open past its scheduled shutdown dates?

A: Absolutely. We must be pragmatic about an assets like the Prairie Island plant, which not only provides a safe, clean source of power but also has a major impact on our employment picture and our tax base. With a worldwide economy that is trying to turn away from fossil fuels the need for more clean energy power generating capacity has never been clearer. We should be doing all we can to work with Xcel and the government regulators to ensure the continued safe operation of Prairie Island.

Q: The Red Wing 2040 Community Plan reports that 25% of homeowners and 46% of renters pay more than 30% of household income on housing. What should the city do to help with housing costs?

A: I believe some of the problems in affordable housing have been brought about by too much--not too little--government involvement in the marketplace. Rather than pushing taxpayer dollars towards various projects our first priority should be making certain that Red Wing’s economic and business climate is welcoming of new investment. Investment comes to communities that have solid infrastructure, good schools and a competitive tax rate. If we can ensure that Red Wing has all of those ingredients in place, investment dollars will follow that will provide quality affordable housing.

Q: Over the past few months municipalities throughout the state and country have been looking at potential ways to change policing (examples include defunding police departments, new regulations on things like choke holds and, in Red Wing, the creation of the Policy Advisory Team). What is your view of these changes? Do you believe that law enforcement policies and practices should be examined? Do you support the creation of the Policy Advisory Team? Why or why not?

A: I believe the men and women of Red Wing and Goodhue County law enforcement do an outstanding job under incredibly difficult circumstances that most people don’t fully appreciate. Officers are often called upon to make split-second decisions in very difficult situations and it’s important that our law enforcement personnel receive all of the training and resources they need to do their jobs properly. The Policy Advisory Team may turn out to be a positive factor, but I have real concerns about the team’s plan to conduct parts of its meetings behind closed doors. The public is best served by openness and transparency in government, and opting to do some of the Advisory Team’s work in secret undermines public confidence and the team’s own credibility.

Sean Dowse

Sean Dowse will be on the ballot for Red Wing mayor on Nov. 3. Photo provided by Dowse.
Sean Dowse will be on the ballot for Red Wing mayor on Nov. 3. Photo provided by Dowse.

Q: Why should fellow citizens elect you the mayor of Red Wing?

A: Red Wing is where I live. My family grew up here and I’m committed to strengthening the community. For three plus years as mayor the city has seen significant advances:

  • Chronic apartment shortage has seen 400 apartments built or planned.

  • When the pandemic hit, the city stepped up and contributed $30,000 supporting the United Way to help individuals.

  • The city has made significant investments in critical infrastructure.

  • Businesses hit by pandemic losses received support from the city.

I have advocated for Red Wing at the state and federal level to ensure that Red Wing receives needed support from both levels of government. In that process I have established relationships with key individuals that will serve us well in the future.

Q: Whoever is elected likely will oversee the city as it transitions away from the pandemic and its impacts. What steps would you take to help the city’s economy rebound? How would you ensure that residents stay safe/healthy?

A: The city of Red Wing, Port Authority, Chamber of Commerce, Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Downtown Mainstreet have convened working groups to identify and pursue redevelopment in the downtown and Old West Main districts, coalesce plans to meet workforce housing goals, support manufacturing and commercial sectors so that they can survive until the pandemic is managed and the economy revives, implement a marketing plan to bring new residents and business to town, and prepare for increased visitors that will arrive by two daily trains, an anticipated increase in river cruise line arrivals from 2023 on, and growth in visitors to view Red Wing’s spectacular new Eisenhower Bridge of Valor, its new waterfront, the renovated He Mni Can/Barn Bluff, and the Downtown Sculpture walk.

Q: The Prairie Island nuclear plant’s two units are scheduled to close in 2033 and 2034. Should Red Wing lobby keep the Prairie Island nuclear plant open past its scheduled shutdown dates?

A: The Prairie Island Nuclear Plant tax base underpins much of the city’s budget. Replacing that would be a Herculean challenge. But beyond that, the plant is home to high paying jobs; its employees contribute volunteer support to Red Wing organizations and Xcel’s philanthropy is exemplary in funding Red Wing’s nonprofit sector. The city supports the plant to ensure an irreplaceable tax base, its jobs and the benefits it brings to the community. However, the accumulation and storage of spent nuclear fuel in Red Wing just 600 yards from the Prairie Island Indian Community is a steep price to pay for these benefits. Getting the federal government to obey the law and find a permanent repository for spent fuel is one of my top priorities.

Q: The Red Wing 2040 Community Plan reports that 25% of homeowners and 46% of renters pay more than 30% of household income on housing. What should the city do to help with housing costs?

A: Our housing costs are comparable to similar sized communities. However, the Red Wing 2040 Plan also reports that we have a poverty level higher than Minnesota’s. Some folks with higher paying skilled jobs commute from out of town. This means many of our residents likely hold jobs requiring less training and that don’t pay enough to drop us below the 30% threshold. We need to address this with equitable education and job training so that all have access to the better-paying skilled jobs available in our hospitality, retail and manufacturing sectors. This must be part of our community-wide effort to address racial inequity in education and employment. It will take a coordinated community-wide effort. To successfully emerge from the pandemic, we must treat all equitably.

Q: Over the past few months municipalities throughout the state and country have been looking at potential ways to change policing (examples include defunding police departments, new regulations on things like choke holds and, in Red Wing, the creation of the Policy Advisory Team). What is your view of these changes? Do you believe that law enforcement policies and practices should be examined? Do you support the creation of the Policy Advisory Team? Why or why not?

A: I offer my unequivocal support for law enforcement and our police department. However, to begin a discussion on how the city’s practices impact people of color and LBGTQ communities, Red Wing has created the Advisory Team on Policies and Procedures. The goal is to look not only at policies and procedures in policing but in all areas of city government. Systemic racism can affect a wide variety of actions. The Advisory Team includes a variety of individuals, many of whom are new to government service. They have identified a process for their work and recently began meeting. I look forward to their examination and their recommendations due in eighteen months.