ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- Two women are vying for an open seat on the St. Cloud City Council.

Sandra Brakstad and Karen Larson are campaigning for the seat in Ward 2 that is currently held by Steve Laraway.

Karen Larson, photo by's Jim Maurice
Karen Larson, photo by's Jim Maurice

Karen Larson is a retired college professor.

She says her top items on her agenda for Ward 2 are the redevelopment of the downtown and more affordable housing. She says the newly formed Downtown Alliance is an excellent start, and she wants there to be an equal focus on the downtown on both sides of the river.

Coordination on the development on the west side and the east side should be done in such a way that both parts of the downtown thrive and they are not in competition, they should be complimentary.

Larson says she'd like to see the development of affordable housing units in conjunction with a plan for walkability on the east side.

As for dealing with the issue of homelessness on the east side, Larson says she has a professional research background and has done research on homeless shelters.

Particularly with a low-barrier shelter the services need to be offered in such a way that it's possible, it's always a challenge, to integrate a homeless institution with the neighboring community.  Those services need to be offered in such a way that the surrounding residents can also live and breath and have businesses.

As for the city as a whole, Larson wants to work on defining the town's future and what we want it to look like. She says there's a danger in defining ourselves as crime-ridden and we don't want to saddle ourselves with a negative identity.

Larson says there has been a lot of movement toward division in this country and she wants to be part of healing that with civility on all sides.

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Sandra Brakstad, photo by's Jim Maurice
Sandra Brakstad, photo by's Jim Maurice

Sandra Brakstad is a retired small business owner. She says she was a delegate for the Republican State Convention and that's when she decided to make her first run for city council. She describes herself as outspoken and not afraid to speak her mind.

She says her biggest issue is public safety.

Predominantly Dave our Mayor has said this, our crime rate is down with our population base, but we do see more crime based on people coming into our region.

Brakstad says she would like to see a COP House somewhere on the east side, she says she also thinks the Lincoln Center Homeless Shelter needs stronger management.

She is excited about what's happening to revitalize the downtown with the new Downtown Alliance.

The Downtown Council itself was flopping around on the beach if you will.  With the chamber absorbing the Downtown Council, calling it the Downtown Alliance, they have set up some action committees, one of them being business development, I am very excited to be involved in that.

Brakstad says she wants to make sure that business development also includes the East St. Germain area.

Brakstad says she believes a conservative voice is necessary for the city.

St. Cloud Ward Map
St. Cloud Ward Map

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