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Letter: Response to Plymouth Council Candidate's Letter

Jim Willis responds to Dan Waltenberg's recent letter to the editor about concerns with past work with the city of Plymouth.

To the Editor:

Plymouth residents deserve transparent and respectful leadership.

My name is Jim Willis and I am running for re-election to the Plymouth City Council At Large seat.  I have dedicated myself to public service and take the public trust very seriously. 

I am deeply disappointed that my opponent Dan Waltenberg has chosen to turn to smear tactics and half-truths under the guise of concern for the citizens of Plymouth. Plymouth’s citizens deserve higher standards in their prospective public servants, beginning with honest communication about real issues. Waltenberg’s track record on the campaign trail leaves the community wanting:

1. My opponent could have addressed any issue he wanted in an open forum debate with me, arranged by the League of Women Voters, on October 2.  However, though he had committed to be there, he did not show up.   I was there, ready to answer questions from the citizens of Plymouth.

Unfortunately, because my opponent did not show up, citizens didn’t get to hear from either of us about our ideas for Plymouth’s future because the League’s rules do not permit a single candidate to make a presentation. I have pledged my continued commitment to public safety, a low tax levy, protecting our natural environment, investing in safe streets and attracting development that pays its own way. I invite readers to visit my website to learn more, or to contact me with their questions, concerns and ideas.

2. The first State-mandated campaign finance reporting deadline for my opponent was September 5th.  My opponent flagrantly disregarded the deadline by more than four weeks. This is a violation of State law. By filing my own report on time, I demonstrated my value for transparency and respect for the citizens of Plymouth. I might add that all other candidates for council seats met the deadline.

3. My opponent claims that if elected, he’ll “go through the budget line by line” in order to find money to pay for hockey rinks (a special interest of his), but when invited several times this fall by the current council to budget study sessions to begin this process – he did not show up.  I was there representing the citizens of Plymouth along with my six council colleagues making the serious budget decisions that are expected of us.

Voters in Plymouth deserve better than shady campaign smear tactics from someone who doesn’t respect them enough to show up at a debate or to study sessions to prepare for leadership.

In a recent letter to the editor, my opponent alleges that I was forced to resign as Plymouth City Manager in 1992 because of receiving excessive compensation.  This allegation is completely untrue. 

Here is the truth about which my opponent seems confused.

I resigned my position as City Manager of Plymouth, after serving for 21 years.  Long time residents may recall the City’s internal conflicts at that time.  Subsequent elections, following the adoption of a City Charter and expanding the Council to seven members, brought new Council members and a new spirit of cooperation that has continued to this day.  I pledge to continue the path of civility in public debate and with our citizens.

Because he lacks executive leadership experience, my opponent may be unaware that organizational leaders have employment agreements with their employers.  City Managers typically have severance compensation upon leaving their positions.  The severance package that I was offered by the Council under the terms of my agreement combined several kinds of compensation.  Taken together, the compensation exceeded limits for public officials set by the State of Minnesota.  As soon as this was brought to my attention, I repaid the money.

These are serious times that require serious, respectful leaders.  My opponent is neither.  The citizens of Plymouth deserve better.

 Jim Willis

Plymouth City Council At-Large

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