Six political newcomers vie for city council seats

BERKELEY LAKE -- Six candidates have qualified to run for three Berkeley Lake City Council seats this election season.

Anne Carpenter, Jim Donnelly, William Hunkapiller, Scott Lee, Brian Strasburg and Steve Throckmorton will vie for the three seats being vacated by current Mayor Pro Tem Walter Anderson and council members Debbie Guthrie and Tom Kitchens, whose terms end in December.

"My interest in serving on the city council is in recognition of the important role of local government and immediate impact it can have on our quality of life," said Lee, a 20-year resident of the small community that centers on the 77-acre lake for which it is named.

Donnelly said his decision to run for a council seat was prompted by a critical need for candidates.

"I felt a calling to serve Berkeley Lake in order to show my appreciation to the residents in the hope that the city will continue to operate in the same good standard as in the past," said Donnelly, who has lived in the community for a decade. "There are always many challenges that our city will face and I will help guide Berkeley Lake to meet the future."

None of the six candidates has held public office previously.

"I am not a politician," Hunkapiller said, "but I believe there is a time, when regular citizens like me need to stand up and serve the community's interests instead of the government's interest."

"Those who know me best understand that I am no politician," Throckmorton echoed. "I want to simply to make myself available as an option to voters. I also felt it important to give the voters at least one candidate who understands the unique interests of River Mansions since as far as I know there are no council members from the River Mansions community."

River Mansions is one of the six neighborhood subdivisions that make up Berkeley Lake that Carpenter would like to see take more active roles in city affairs.

"Unification of Berkeley Lake is important," she said, "and I'd like to see a greater sense of community between the residents of lake properties and those who live off the lake but within the city limits."

Carpenter said community involvement as well as fiscal responsibility are two of the most important challenges facing the small community.

"My belief is that as a community, we, not the city government are responsible for enhancing our community by getting involved in the things that matter most for homeowners and families," she said.

If elected, Hunkapiller plans to call for a reduction in the city's government.

"I believe we need to reduce government, both in staff as well as control over the citizens," the six-year Berkeley Lake resident said. "We have 14 people, elected and on staff, to service a city that has as many people and homes as many subdivisions."

Police protection and preservation of the community's private lake are key consideration for Hunkapiller, who is a licensed US.. Coast Guard captain.

"Some may say the city has no responsibility for the lake," he said, "but I believe the city needs to take a more proactive interest in reducing damage to the lake and our citizens via storm runoff, for example."

Strasburg agreed the city's government has grown too large.

"In the 14 years since taking ownership and residence in Berkeley Lake, I have observed a trend of expanding government, increased taxation, an exploding cost of city administration and the enactment of many senseless rules and regulations that do not bring the residents together, but rather tend to divide us," he said. "With the city of Berkeley Lake being comprised of about 620 homes, and being settled upon only 1.1 square miles in overall area with 90 percent of that area being water, I feel with such a small community, the administration or oversight should be in scale with the community."

Absentee and early voting for Berkeley Lake residents opened Oct. 13 and will continue through Thursday. Residents may vote absentee by mail or in person at City Hall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Identification is required for those voting in person.

The polling location has been moved to the Berkeley Lake City Hall at 4040 S. Berkeley Lake Road, where elections will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

A council candidates forum is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at Berkeley Lake Elementary School, 4300 S. Berkeley Lake Road in Duluth.