Superior mayor to announce re-election run
BY SHELLEY NELSON DAILY TELEGRAM NEWS EDITOR Four years ago, Dave Ross stood at the Billings Park Civic Center to announce his candidacy for mayor. The owner of a David's Upholstery, Ross held up a small orange card containing five promises he wo...
BY SHELLEY NELSON
DAILY TELEGRAM NEWS EDITOR
Four years ago, Dave Ross stood at the Billings Park Civic Center to announce his candidacy for mayor.
The owner of a David's Upholstery, Ross held up a small orange card containing five promises he would keep if elected in April 2003 -- to contain city spending, protect taxpayer-supported services, provide effective leadership, justify projects financially and work with the business community.
"I was just humbled by the fact that they had voted me into this office," Ross said Tuesday. "Coming from very small business, having grown up in Superior, there was no doubt that I had passion for my community. But any time you elect a new leader, you wonder if they can lead your community, especially being somewhat of an unknown in the political realm."
The passion that drove Ross to stand before a group of citizens four years ago is the same that will put him back at the Billings Park Civic Center on Friday to announce plans to run for re-election.
And Ross said in an interview that those same promises will guide his next four years in office if voters decide to send him back to City Hall for another term.
"I felt passionate about these issues, and I still do," Ross said. "I haven't lost my passion."
Since taking office in 2003, the city has cut $3.5 million out of its structural budget and eliminated more than 20 positions, keeping overall budgetary increases to 1.75 percent annually. In spite of the cuts, vital city services such as garbage service - which was at risk four years ago when the state threatened to eliminate shared revenue - remain intact.
"I learned a long time ago that this was the most efficient, most effective service the citizens received from their government," Ross said. "And it would make no sense - in fact it would be quite foolish - to privatize a service that is more effective than the (private) sector."
To improve the city's outlook without turning to the taxpayers, Ross initiated changes such as changing the Nemadji Golf Course from a city-run operation to one that is privately managed. The city is netting better-than-anticipated revenue instead of subsidizing the golf course. And Finance Director Jean Vito said the city is likely to receive higher payments than the minimum $140,000 required annually under the two-year agreement. The golf course also is reimbursing the city's general fund for improvements made several years ago.
While Ross has been criticized recently for demolishing the Palace Theater, he said he couldn't justify the expense of the preservation project or ask city taxpayers to foot the bill down the road for a failed project.
"That is something I promised I would do with every project," Ross said. "I wouldn't turn a blind eye just to get something done, and then I later find out that we couldn't afford it. It would have been very easy to create public support for a feel-good project only to strap the city later with an incredible liability to keep that project operational. When I said I would financially justify projects at that time, it meant I would make unpopular decisions and not move forward with some projects."
During his tenure, Ross has focused on major themes, such as curbing the growth of payday lenders in the city, addressing violence in the city's downtown bar district, and most recently, focusing efforts on improving the quality of neighborhoods by developing a nuisance ordinance to give police another tool to solve problems with troublesome neighbors.