ST. CLOUD -- There is a contested race for St. Cloud mayor this year, something that hasn't happened in 15 years. Dave Kleis has run unopposed each year he was up for election since he first won the job back in 2005.

Kleis says he's running again this year because he believes public service is the most important calling anyone has, and because he got a lot of encouragement from the community to run again.  He also says part of the reason he is running for re-election is amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent protests he "wouldn't leave a ship in a storm".

Kleis says public safety is a top priority for him and that is why he has added police officers to the department every year that he's been mayor.

Each year we increase, in fact even during the great recession we didn't reduce we actually increased.  We've done it also through a tremendous amount of efficiency.  I hired the chief eight years ago, we had a plan, we adopted the community policing agreement, we've done a lot of things.

Kleis says the crime trends have gone down for the city over the last 10 years.

He says it is important for him to be accessible to the city residents and be transparent.

Well, 750 town hall meetings.  The fact that we put everything on the internet, when something happens we get that information out right away, everything that we do we go through a public process.

Kleis says, besides the 750 in-person town hall meetings, he's also held over 1,600 radio town hall meetings, and he gives out is his phone number so residents can call him directly.

Kleis says he wants to continue to help small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and is encouraged that 100 percent of the businesses that had a liquor license before the pandemic began have renewed their licenses for the next year.

Kleis says his biggest accomplishment while he's been in office is the relationship building that he's done, including strong relationships with federal and state leaders.

There are four men running for St. Cloud mayor this year, we've featured each one this week on WJON. Absentee voting is open now for the August 11th primary where the top two vote getters will move on to the general election in November.

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