Campion, Kroening compare views in first forum
As the Ward 3 candidates for Rochester City Council were asked to list what they saw as the three top issues in the city, challenger Arlo Kroening indicated he was in a tough spot following incumbent Nick Campion.
“I want to thank you for pretty much covering everything,” he told Campion as he started his answer.
Both candidates voiced a variety of similar concerns and goals throughout their first face-to-face candidate forum heading to the Nov. 6 election.
When it came to top issues, Campion cited a need to ensure growth serves the community, being a partner with the school district and targeting affordability for housing, taxes, child care and other issues in the community.
Kroening pointed to a need to work to ensure local schools’ needs are protected, making sure future development comes with a more cohesive plan and protecting green spaces and other amenities, such as bike paths, as growth continues.
Kroening, a commercial painter who previously served as general manager of Roscoe’s BBQ, acknowledged he and Campion share some views, but he said his primary goal for running is to offer a different type of representation to Ward 3.
“I don’t want to be seen as his opponent,” Kroening said of Campion. “I want to be an option.”
He said his small-business experience, as well as work in the trades, provides him with the background to be a distinct voice on the council.
Campion, Rochester’s only incumbent running for a city seat, also pointed to experience in citing what makes him best suited for the council position. Prior to his past four years on the council, he was a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for seven years.
He said that work has shown him what it takes to help lead a growing city.
“You do have to learn quickly,” he said, vowing to ensure he would pass on some of the lessons he’s learned if voters opt to replace him.
At the same time, Campion noted it’s working with the potential voters that has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the last four years, citing frequent calls for assistance and emailed questions to answer.
Still, he said it’s the face-to-face experiences — especially while campaigning — that he said offer the greatest insight.
“One of the ways I get the best feedback is I walk around the ward,” he said, noting recent weeks have brought numerous doors to knock on.
Kroening also voiced a desire to meet ward residents and work with them to tackle the issues they see as a priority.
Acknowledging a lack of knowledge in some areas, he said he’s willing to learn and work with experts to find the needed answers.
“You are supposed to be a portal for your ward,” he said of his view of a council member’s role, noting elected officials should speak for the people they represent.
On other issues, both candidates cited a desire to find acceptable ways to limit the lengths of city council meetings and said they would not support a city-imposed $15 minimum wage at this time.
Wednesday’s forum, hosted by ward resident Barb Virnig, likely won’t be the last time residents have a chance to hear the two candidates answer questions.
The League of Women Voters has a forum scheduled for the Ward 3 race at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Rochester Public Library, and In the City For Good a candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 11 at 125 Live.