You know the phrase: “If I had a dollar for every time...”

    Well, if you were into that little game and attended last week’s Meet the Candidates Forum at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and you were to receive one dollar for every time a candidate for Crookston City Council or Crookston mayor uttered the word “conservative” or a phrase somehow relating to a candidate vowing to protect Crookston taxpayers’ money with their very life, you would have walked away with enough cash to buy a case of beer. Fancy craft beer at that. Maybe even a bottle of wine, too.

    We get it. This is Republican country, which means voters aren’t fans of taxes. But, realizing taxation to a certain point is a necessary evil, they don’t want their hard-earned tax dollars going to waste in the form of frivolous, non-conservative spending. All of which means Crookston voters can exhale: Your city council is currently home to nary a tax and spend liberal, and, no matter how the votes tally up on Nov. 6, the new council will be populated by people who aren’t big fans of taxes, and who will think of saving first, and spending a distant second.

    So, taking that demographic into consideration, if you want to improve your chances of getting elected, even to the city council or as mayor in the small town of Crookston, you need to lather, rinse, and repeat when you have a chance to make your case before the voters, like at a candidates’ forum: You’re conservative. In fact, you’re very conservative. Extremely conservative. You won’t spend taxpayer dollars unwisely. In fact, you’re going to spend taxpayer dollars wisely. You’re going to spend taxpayer dollars like it’s your own money. On and on and on it went in Kiehle Auditorium last week. And if that’s your thing, great. Lather, rinse, repeat...

    Meanwhile, if you had a dollar at the candidates forum for every time a council or mayoral candidate uttered the word “invest” or “investment” or “spend,” you would have limped home a dirt-poor soul.

    The only time the candidates changed their tone was when they were asked if the City of Crookston should take over ownership of the swimming pool from the Crookston School District. Basically, everyone said such a transfer seems to make sense if it assures the pool’s long-term future.

    It’s not like being an ultra-armored guardian of taxpayer dollars is a bad thing. But if you think Crookston is going to get where it wants to go, as a rural town with a lot of opportunities that are at least counter-balanced by a mountain of challenges, you’re going to have to bite the bullet now and then and spend some cash.

    It’s been written in this space before that we need more diversity on the council. While there’s no law requiring that an elected body reflect the community it represents, our current council does not mirror Crookston. But at least it looks like we’ll have a female representative on the council come 2019, since Cindy Gjerswold is the only candidate in Ward 6.

    But, still, will there be a diversity of views when it comes to making strategic investments in Crookston’s future? Or will we focus instead on belt-tightening to the point that we have to keep poking more holes in the leather?