ST. CLOUD -- For the first time since 2005, there is a contested race for mayor in St. Cloud. Incumbent Dave Kleis is being challenged by Steven Schiller.

Kleis says keeping the city's budget balanced amid revenue losses due to COVID-19 will be a top priority next year. He says he's put together a budget based on a worst-case scenario that anticipates no federal help. He says the budget cuts close to $3 million, but at the same time puts more money into public safety, something he says he's done in every budget since he's been in office.

And that has shown results, just look at the FBI stats that just came out, Minnesota's crime rate has gone up while St. Cloud's has gone down.  Actually, if you look at the 30-year trend we've declined over those 30 years.  If you go back to 1989 when I graduated from college we had fewer people but a higher crime rate.

A couple of major renovation projects that the city is expected to undertake next year at transforming the old Technical High School into a new City Hall and upgrades to the Municipal Athletic Complex. Kleis supports both projects call the MAC renovation extremely important noting that the recently approved bonding money is the first time that facility has received any state funding.

The city's south end of town is expected to see a lot of development in the coming years now that the new Tech High School is done and improvements have been made to 33rd Street South. Kleis says the planning for that area is primarily housing with some economic development. Kleis also envisions a sports complex on that end of town similar to what we have in the Whitney area.

A few years ago at the State of the City I envisioned a fieldhouse, a dome, for soccer and other sports.  This we would do through private dollars, a partnership, similar to what we did with the YMCA and Aquatic Center.

Kleis notes St. Cloud already has 96 parks, which is more parks per capita than most cities. St. Cloud's total parkland covers 1,600 acres.

Kleis says the city's focus on development east of the Mississippi River is starting to pay off with projects like Running now open, the Cashwise store slated for a major renovation, the Gateway Motel to be torn down and the site redeveloped, and he says an announcement coming soon about the former Burger King lot.

He also says an overhaul of the Highway 23 and Highway 10 interchange will spur additional development.

MnDOT, the city, and the county are in a collaborative effort for a complete reconstruct.  People are going to be very surprised at the new look of Highway 10 and 23 over the next three years.  When that is done it will spur more economic development.

Kleis says he wants to continue to engage the community noting that he's held over 780 town hall meetings.

He also noted that just last year St. Cloud was named a Most Liveable city in the world and the Greenest city in Minnesota.

Kleis' opponent Steven Schiller has not yet returned our messages requesting an interview.  Here is a link to a story we did with Schiller back in June prior to the Primary Election.

In the August Primary Kleis got 61 percent of the vote, Schiller got 16 percent of the vote, and two other candidates were eliminated with 12 percent and 11 percent each.

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