ST. CLOUD -- There are nine people running for three at-large St. Cloud City Council seats this year.

One of those people is incumbent George Hontos. He was first elected to the council in 2001 and describes himself as a representative of the people who is non-partisan and independent.

Hontos says he's running for re-election because he wants to continue to be a voice for the people and he wants to make sure the taxpayer's dollars are being used wisely.

Hontos says one of the accomplishments he's most proud of since his time on the council is that he was a founding father of the "St. Cloud Area Sustainability Committee".

The city has taken tremendous steps in being energy self-sufficient, in fact, today we generate more energy than we use in public facilities, and I would like to see more of that if we could do more of it in our residential and commercial buildings and things like that.

Hontos says he also helped reorganize how the city does economic development when they moved economic development over to city hall and away from the Housing and Redevelopment Authority eight years ago. And, he was on all three committees for the "Neighborhood Best Practices".

Hontos says if he gets re-elected to the city council he'd like to take a comprehensive look at addressing poverty and homelessness.

I've mentioned the number of people that live in poverty in St. Cloud.  We have about 23 percent poverty rate and the state average is about eight, so we're almost three times as high.  We also have a medium household income that is about 68 to 70 percent of the state average.  So what we have are a lot of people that live in poverty.

Hontos says addressing those issues will include attracting more good-paying jobs and creating more affordable housing.

His other top issues will be dealing with the city's budget deficit due to COVID-19, and continuing to address livability concerns in the city's neighborhoods.

Throughout this week and also next week we are featuring each of the candidates running for St. Cloud City Council. Absentee voting is open right now for the August 11th primary election. The top six people who get the most votes will advance on to the general election in November.

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