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2020 City Council Election: Clayton Briggs, incumbent

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

Tell us about yourself, your family, education, career and political experience.

    I was born and raised in Crookston, we bought a home from my parents and built a new home here after our family was there for 65 years.  I’m a retired Crookston police officer and worked for the Sheriff’s department also. I’ve done construction work as a contractor and worked for Stenshoel Houske Funeral Home. Right now I’m working part-time driving school bus.

    I’ve been married 46 years, we have two kids, a son that lives in Crookston and a daughter that lives in Crookston; four grandkids with three in Crookston and one in Mandan. Most of my family is here in Crookston.

    I went to Crookston Central High and stopped high school in 10th grade to stay home and take care of my dad who had a brain tumor. Later I went to construction trade school in the 1970s and got a diploma, then went to Northland Community College and got a degree in law enforcement. I was on the police reserve for a while then got in at UMC as a police officer, then went to North Dakota for two years then back to Crookston. I was forced into retirement from the police department because of injuries in the line of duty then I went back to school in CAD and architectural drawing, and did one year of computer animation. I graduated with highest honors in Phi Beta Kappa in the national registry. I’ve also attended different construction classes too.

    My wife and I have several rental property investments in Crookston and I’ve been on the City Council for six years at the end of December. I was first appointed by Gary Willhite and Dave Genereux and I’m currently Vice Mayor now.

How long have you served as a Crookston City Council member?

    Six years.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected for another term?

    I would like to see the campground done in Central Park and Epitome Energy built. I’d like for the city to get more things going and current projects moving. We need to get back on the ball and go forward. A few other little things I’d like see like continue is revitalization of downtown like Jeff (Evers) with the Fournet and I’d like to continue with DCDP (Downtown Crookston Development Partnership) projects and other things.

Do you feel you’ve been open enough to the members of your ward and the community to speak on their behalf?

    I believe I have. I have probably 10 or 12 people throughout the ward that I contact on a regular basis that I know will give me a good answer, a fair and honest answer. I’d like to see more people attending council meetings. We tried to do the live stream thing a couple years ago but was shot down because of cost. Now we need to be putting out more information and getting important things across to the community.

Many people in the area feel that communication is the Council’s weakest point - both with other council members/mayor/staff, and with the community. Do you feel you can fix that if elected to another term? How? Give examples if you’d like.

    This is another tough situation. We have the press that relay for us, but communication definitely has to be improved. We need to find ways to communicate with more people. I would say in the last four or five months with communications with the council, the mayor and city has all improved. We’re not ending up arguing with each other. You also need to watch how much you discuss because of open meeting laws. Good communication is always better no matter what area you’re in. Not just the council.

In regards to the handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, name one thing you agree with that Governor Walz has done for the state of Minnesota. Explain.

    I think he’s done a pretty good job trying to get information out. It’s one of those jobs that you’re not going to please everybody. I feel the communication has been good.

In regards to the handling of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, name one thing you disagree with that Governor Walz has done for the state of Minnesota. Explain.

    Some areas are still closed and they allowed places like the hardware stores and different stores to remain open. With the salons you’re more or less one on one with a customers and it was probably not one on one with all the customers they allowed in stores with bigger flows of traffic.

What do you like to do for fun? Hobbies?

    I’m a car collector; I enjoy fixing up classic cars and have several. Not all of them are done, but I like to restore old cars. My wife and I had a few trips planned for this year on our Can Am bike, but COVID shut that down. I like spending time with family and we have a spot at Polk County Park we go to during the summer.

What is your favorite place to visit in Crookston? How about in Minnesota?

    I do some kayaking on the Red Lake River so that’s one of my favorite places in Crookston. Duluth is a favorite place in Minnesota. My wife and I have said if we ever decided to go somewhere else it would be Duluth. We’re not leaving Crookston though.

What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?

    Hong’s in Crookston.

Clayton Briggs