For Two Harbors: Either one
In the hundred-year-plus history of the News-Chronicle newspaper and its forebears, there have been periods when the newspaper has made endorsements of candidates for public office and other times where our policy has been not to endorse.
We're currently in the does-not-endorse mode, but in the Two Harbors mayoral race, we're making an exception.
And that's to give our wholehearted endorsement of incumbent Mayor Randy Bolen for re-election -- and an equally enthusiastic nod to his challenger, City Councilor Mary Henjum Rosati.
Before you dismiss this as a cop-out or gimmick, know that we're completely sincere. We're convinced that both are excellent candidates who have already proven themselves as dedicated public servants. Two Harbors cannot lose with either one.
That is not to say we agree with them on every issue, though if we did, it wouldn't necessarily pose a contradiction because on a surprising number of issues, they agree with each other.
At the candidate's forum sponsored by this newspaper and the Two Harbors Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 18, Rosati and Bolen expressed similar policies on several issues, including maintaining city ownership of the golf course and development of Two Harbors airport.
Their biggest disagreement, in fact, came not with each other but with us -- taking issue with a question about the airport that mentioned the lack of living-wage jobs in the area.
Bolen answered first, pointing to the city's 5 percent unemployment rate that is indeed far better than the national average of 7.8 percent and even Minnesota's 5.8 percent. Rosati too disagreed with the premise.
Both are correct that the city is doing better than other municipalities, but that doesn't negate other statistics, including one earlier this year showing nearly 12 percent of Two Harbors households making less than $15,000 per year, and 23 percent making less than $25,000 -- numbers slightly trailing the national average. Even with a low housing cost locally and gas a bargain compared to Duluth (which is forever a mystery, but that's another story), it's still a struggle for nearly one in four residents you meet -- or maybe yourself.
Yet that difference with us -- perhaps mostly about terminology -- can be put aside, with the recognition that while a mayor can help create an inviting environment for businesses and growth, he or she cannot force any company to hire anyone or determine how much they'll get paid. Looking forward, both candidates expressed concern about holding the line on taxes -- Rosati taking some difference with Bolen in citing the city auditors' warning against using the liquor store fund for general expenditures, and Bolen acknowledging the point by saying the city has restructured that obligation.
However they slice it, both candidates are well-aware of the challenges, and equally important, both express a positive attitude that they can be met. There is little doubt that Bolen and Rosati love their city and are determined to keep it a good place to live.
Yes, we realize this endorsement may not be much good for taking into the polling booth; you'll still have to make up your mind yourself, as every voter should. But you can do so with the knowledge that whichever candidate you choose, Two Harbors will be in good hands.