I’m an "open door" kind of guy, and I want to make it easy for people to find the mayor! Especially during the pandemic but also, in general, accessing the mayor’s office at City Hall can be challenging and intimidating. That’s why -- on my own dime, not taxpayers’ -- I’ve set up an office right downtown at 327 Third St. When the sandwich board sign is out on the sidewalk, “The Mayor is In” and ready to welcome you for a chat. If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.

Now let’s think about the next four years here in Red Wing as a trip on a riverboat. We will all need to work together to get things done and have some fun along the way. To those ends, we have the city staff and employees in the engine room making sure everything runs smoothly. Meanwhile, the council is issuing the operational commands and decisions on the direction of the boat. And I’ll be helping make sure the boat stays on course.

The downtown office has been open for a little over a month now, and these are some of the biggest concerns I’m hearing from folks who stop to visit:

Deal with the pandemic

First and foremost, we continue to work with Mayo Clinic Health System, our legislators, Goodhue County, and our governor to ensure that everyone who wants the COVID-19 vaccine gets it as soon as humanly possible. The simple fact is, our local shops and restaurants can’t move fully into economic recovery mode until people feel safe and able to enjoy being out and about again.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Get a handle on city spending

Red Wing’s budget needs a haircut. Bells and whistles are expensive.

Is this the right time or best use of funds for a multi-million dollar pedestrian bridge from Bay Point Park to the West End District?

Do we really need more trails, or do we need to maintain the rich trails that already exist in and around the city?

Do we really need more shiny new city-owned trucks, or can we maintain what we have?

Mark Twain famously pointed out that everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Same with taxes. The city can’t keep squeezing people’s pocketbooks year after year and expect them to have anything left to spend and boost our local economy.

Do the people’s business out in the open

Government works best when people participate and know what’s going on. When it comes to the people’s business, transparency and accountability are paramount. So is participation.

In that regard, I’m really looking forward to working with more than 140 local residents who serve on the boards and commissions involved in making recommendations and policy for the betterment of our city.

Recharge downtown, support local businesses, respect historic neighborhoods

Red Wing’s historic downtown, and our distinct neighborhoods, are the heart and soul of this great city. We’re going to leave no stone unturned to find the money, resources, and creativity necessary to recharge downtown, bring back crowds safely, and fill every storefront with a healthy business and amenities people want.

Moreover, we are committed to making neighbors and neighborhoods an integral part of the planning process for long term projects like the eventual redevelopment of the old St. John’s Hospital site.

Meet the urgent need for more housing

There’s a real need for more housing in Red Wing. Yet I sit at my desk downtown and look up at lots of unoccupied, undeveloped second-story and third-story space above our street-level businesses. I’m convinced we can find the resources necessary to help remodel and fill those spaces with apartments and condos, and give downtown a big economic boost.

A “Minute With Mike” on KCUE Radio (Actually more than a minute)

Don’t forget to tune in to KCUE Radio 1250 at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of every month for “A Minute With Mike.” It’s a live interview where I’ll share out the topics that were discussed and what will be discussed at the City Council meetings the second and fourth Monday of each month.

And look for future columns in the Republican Eagle the first Saturday of each month.

Now I want to hear from you. Next time you’re downtown, and the sandwich board is out, remember, the mayor is in. Let’s have a visit. You can also email me anytime at mike.wilson@ci.red-wing.mn.us.