As the new mayor of Grand Forks, Frank Konrad plans to stick closely to his election platform of being transparent and that he will never betray the trust of the citizens.
Konrad beat out incumbent Brian Taylor by a 503-450 margin for the mayor’s chair. Councillor Cher Wyers finished third with 434 votes.
Konrad was pleased with the results and said it clearly signifies a desire for change from the voters.
“To put it honestly, I was honoured and excited,” he told the Gazette on Monday. “I was really excited that the people made their choices and they send out a message and they chose me, and I’m honoured.”
Konrad said the win showed a trust from the people for him and his campaign.
“They wanted change, that’s the only way I can interpret it,” he said. “People wanted change and decided to go in my direction. People had trust in me to choose me as their new mayor.”
Despite defeating a three-time incumbent (Taylor was mayor from 2011-14 as well two earlier stints), Konrad said he was not surprised.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “After having campaigned so hard going door to door, why would I be surprised? I got the message already ahead of time from the majority of citizens that I contacted. The writing was on the wall.”
Konrad said his only fear heading into the regular election day on Nov. 15 was the being discredited in the paper.
“That was my only fear when that incident happened which was unfair and cruel on the part of the media,” he said.
Although a special issue came out on the Friday before the election, Konrad said it was too late.
“I had lost possibly all the votes from the advance poll on Wednesday,” he said.
Konrad said he believes that honesty and integrity won out in the end. “I was very excited when I won because to me I really believe that goodness and decency triumphs over all,” he said.
Konrad said he is prepared to work with the new council and all the new faces.
“It’s not up to me to decide on the new council,” he said. “I would be able to work with anybody. I have no problems. I have worked on my successful business with so many employees and so many citizens. I love the council I have because no matter who I had I could work with them.”
Konrad said it is important for the new council to work together from the get go.
“We have to work together,” he said. “What would we accomplish if we worked in dissent. We would never be able to accomplish any goals that the council or I have in mind for the citizens of the city. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about the citizens. I don’t have to campaign any more. I’m elected. I’m still confirming and reaffirming my position: it’s for the citizens. They’re the ones that went to the polls and wanted change. They indicated who they wanted be it councillors or mayor. Again, I feel honoured they chose me and I will never betray their trust.”
Konrad said that fixing the infrastructure in Grand Forks will require long range planning and will not happen over night.
“We can attempt and tackle it one step at a time,” he said. “We don’t have to approach the whole project in one endeavour. We can do it slowly area by area. We have the engineering reports even if they are five years old plus.”
Konrad said they will need to approach upper levels of government for funding for the infrastructure projects “but we will not use the ploy as we will install water meters as the trade off so we get these grants.”
“We will try other endeavours to attain these grants,” he said. “Should we not then we will poll the citizens and have their opinions. If they deem it necessary then we do it through taxation. But that will all be up to the citizens.”
Konrad reiterated that he would like to see a moratorium on the water meter installation project in the city.
“I will never reverse my stand on the issue that I put in my platform,” he said. “Given approval with council, we will and I will put a moratorium on the water meter issue until further discussion with the public. Which should have been done in the first place. A petition of that magnitude, which was issued in February, should not ever have been ignored. That’s the biggest betrayal of the citizens that I can think of.”
Konrad said he will have to get used to the machinations of council before deciding further action such as removal of the meters.
“All of these issues must be looked at very stringently first and then we will take our path to whatever direction it takes us,” he said. “Should it be removal? Maybe they’ll be left if the money can’t be re-cooped. There are so many issues that can’t be discussed. They become non-functional is another option. To say we’re going to remove them is way beyond the scope of my ability to comment on.”
Konrad said he has several ideas for improving the downtown core such as downsizing the units and possibly splitting them into smaller units.
“Bringing in a hotel which was always my idea since the beginning of my campaign,” he said. “It is coincidental it appears on page 10 of the paper that they have been approached for a hotel project. It just amazes me how politics works. But I’ve always advocated bringing in a big chain into here which has already been attempted once before my Extra Foods.”
Konrad said he believes these ideas will translate in generating tax gains to help lighten the load for citizens.
Open for business
Konrad is against selling off excess city property.
“I disagree totally on selling off properties,” he said. “If properties are going to be sold off they should be sold off with a guarantee from the people coming in to take these properties over they should give us a guarantee for X number of years so that they won’t just buy these properties and then put a hold on the project and then we’ve lost a valuable asset to our city.”
Konrad said there are many ways in business to handle property management.
“Selling off land—sure we fill the city coffers—but once it’s gone, it’s gone and we can’t recoup that,” he said. “Land is a strong asset and shouldn’t be sold off at a whim.”
Konrad believes there should be much more transparency at City Hall. He is looking at a possible mayor’s day on Thursday afternoon where the public can come by and discuss issues.
“I’ve said before, my door will always be open,” he said. “But some people are intimidated by that. So we’ll do it the other way. Have an open door on a Thursday and people can try it out.”
Konrad hopes the mayor’s day will lead to a closer knit community, “where their expressions of interest are portrayed, their ideas are portrayed, their visions are portrayed.”
Konrad said he expects to be in the office at City Hall near full-time.
“There are so many issues I feel need addressing,” he said. “I want to be there to show that transparency to the people, to be able to listen to them, and deal with issues that are important.”
The new council will be sworn in at the inaugural meeting on Dec. 1, at City Hall (7214 – 4th Street), in the upstairs chambers. Please note there is no wheelchair access due to the renovations.