Incumbent mayor Russell Smith challenged by Dan Folken on city ballot

In Chatfield, incumbent Russell Smith and Dan Folken will be on the ballot for the office of mayor.

Smith, an Air Force veteran and employee of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, has served on the Chatfield City Council and as mayor since the year 2000. He and his wife, Brenda, have two sons, Dustin and Josiah. He is a member of the Chatfield Center for the Arts and the Chatfield Lutheran Church.

Folken is a self-employed bus painter. He and his wife, Michelle have a son, Caiden, who is 15. Folken is a member of the Chatfield Lions and he and his family attend Fillmore Free Methodist Church.

1. What has motivated you to run for mayor?

Smith: “I want to stay involved in city business. We have some big projects coming up and I am excited and want to stay actively involved in the growth of Chatfield.” Smith mentioned upcoming Highway 52 reconstruction through downtown, industrial expansion, retail growth with the addition of a Dollar General and a new swimming pool being constructed as current projects that are underway in the community.  “It will be exciting to have a new pool in town,” he said and noted it should be open in the early summer.

Folken: “I felt it was an opportunity to give back to the community — this community has given me so much, I just truly felt it was an opportunity for me to give back.”

2. Name one characteristic you have that would enable you to be an effective mayor.

Smith: “My past experience with the city and as mayor, but also my job with MnDOT helps me understand better how government agencies work.”

Folken: “I run my own shop, oversee a business. I understand, as mayor, it is important to understand the parameters. You don’t have all the ‘say so’ but you do have suggestions and ideas. Keeping the ‘same-old, same-old’ doesn’t always work. Sometimes you have to change things.”

3. Name your top priority for the city and how you would like to see the city address that issue.

Smith: “I want to make sure we maintain growth. It is important. Southeastern Minnesota is growing and I want to make sure that Chatfield will grow — that Chatfield has all the opportunities to keep growing and moving forward in the future.”

Folken: “I want to work with the community. For me — if I become mayor — I would have a webpage, people can tell me their beliefs and what they are thinking. Without the public support, you don’t really know what the people want. I want the whole community involved. I want to hear the people.”

4. Looking forward, what issue would you like to address as mayor?

Smith: “I’d like to see more shopping opportunities. Our downtown is looking good, buildings are filled with businesses and people can go downtown to shop. I want to keep an environment where businesses can open and find success.” He added that he is proud that local businesses have support from the community’s consumers.

Folken: “Chatfield’s greatest asset is the community — the people. They are the ones who should be directing the entire community. I don’t believe we have any single entity that stands out — except the people. We have great people in Chatfield and they feel like family.” He also believes the industrial park is going to be a huge asset to the community, bringing new jobs and economic development to the city. “It’s going to be a great thing,” he added.

5. Final thoughts:

Smith: “As long as I’ve been on the council, I’ve enjoyed it. Important for people to get involved and stay involved. Decisions on the local level are made in a non-partisan way — we look at what is best for our community, not what is best for any political party.”

Folken: “I will be here for the people. I will be listening to the people.”

In the city council race in Chatfield, incumbents Paul Novotny and Mike Urban are seeking reelection without opposition to their council seats.