When stuck in a situation that they do not want to be in, people often choose to give someone else the opportunity to look at their situation from the outside and tell them the truth about it so that they can move forward toward health and vitality. This Nov. 6 I am asking that you choose me to bring a fresh perspective to the Cottage Grove City Council.

I'm running not because I want political power or because I have a partisan agenda I want to promote, but because people keep telling me that there needs to be a change in City Hall. People are upset with the lack of transparency and honesty they have received from their elected council members. They are frustrated with how their hard-earned property tax money is being spent. They are worried about the lack of jobs and growth in the city.

To help remedy the situation, I bring to the table a steadfast commitment to three main ideals: freedom, truth and transparency.

Freedom

Whenever people are allowed to live free, the result is an increase in the standard of living for everyone. As a council member, I will work to restrain government from what it always wants to do: consume more and more of the money that you work for. I will maintain that you should be able to keep the fruits of your labor and do with it as you see fit. That means, primarily, lowering taxes and government spending. If Cottage Grove really wants to be the place "where pride and prosperity meet," economic and personal freedom is the road that leads there.

Truth

The United States economy is in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the great depression. Hundreds of homes have gone into foreclosure in Cottage Grove over the past few years. "For Lease" signs litter streets where businesses could be. Inflation is driving up the cost of gas and groceries, hurting people on fixed incomes the most. One would think that a government that is supposed to represent the people would be doing what most people are doing in their own households -- cutting back and reducing costs wherever possible, right?

Not here, unfortunately. While the current council hangs its hat on not raising the city's property tax levy, it is instead dipping into the city savings account to pay for its projected budget increase and the $16 million City Hall/Public Safety building. It is spending the city's savings, proposing even more spending and hoping for an economic recovery in the near future, but "it didn't raise the levy."

Transparency

Nobody should feel like they have to read the fine print to understand what is really going on. If it is truly a representation of the people, what would government have to hide?

The Dec. 7, 2011, council meeting is very telling in this regard. Skip to the portion dealing with the 2012 property tax levy and you will see how difficult it is for city officials to admit that $600,000 more is collected in property taxes for 2012 than 2011. This is effectively a tax increase, but all you hear is that "the property tax levy is flat."

Is it any wonder that $550,000 per year is now allocated to repay the funds that were taken from the city's sewer and water savings accounts to pay for the new city hall? The council is quick to mention how your taxes have not gone up because of the City Hall/Public Safety project -- or have they?

Is that how you want your city government to operate?

Cottage Grove can move forward and grow as a city, but if its foundations are half-truths, more government spending and neglecting the voice of its citizens, its long-term prospects are not good.

Help lay down a solid foundation of freedom, truth and transparency by voting for Matthew Kowalski on Nov. 6.