by Dennis Dalman
Aaron Johnson said his reason for deciding to compete for a City Council seat is a simple one: “I want to serve because I love this city,” he said.
Johnson is one of four candidates vying for two open seats on the council, the two now held by Mike Chisum and Brady Andel, who chose not to file for re-election. The other candidates in the race are incumbent Chisum and new contenders Alex Lewandowski and Jill Smith.
Johnson, 52, is employed by ATS Logistics (Anderson Trucking) in St. Cloud. He formerly spent two years with Nestle USA in a sales/route capacity and 15 years near the Twin Cities working as a technician for Comcast/Time Warner after which he moved back to Sartell. Johnson grew up in Little Falls and in his younger years, in the 1990s, he had lived in Sartell for a few years.
He said he was so happy to move back to Sartell after so many years away. His wife, Jerrielynn Martinez-Johnson, has been a Sartell resident since 2005. They have six grown children and three grandchildren.
The Newsleader asked Johnson and the other candidates to comment on a variety of issues: challenges for Sartell, the city’s strengths and weaknesses, how to develop river’s-edge amenities, a place for a history museum and other ways to enhance quality of life for all Sartell residents.
Sartell, Johnson said, is an attractive suburban destination with a great atmosphere in which to raise a family and also a good place to retire.
“I see our strengths as being a city government that should continue to be pro-active in expanding housing but at the same time being careful not to let the growth outrun the infrastructure of our streets,” he said.
Attracting both large and small businesses is paramount to continued success, he said, adding that those decisions must be prudent ones, demanding both research and working hand-in-hand with one another for the best interest of all citizens.
The abandoned site of the longtime paper mill would make a good site for a park, a gathering place or even an amphitheater if that proves to be viable and affordable.
Riverside developments, he said, including use of the paper-mill site, would be a “terrific way to promote community togetherness – more so after the pandemic has passed, of course.”
Sartell’s rich history, he said, should be honored and preserved – perhaps in a renovated older home that could serve as a museum of sorts. “There are lots of options (for a museum) worth exploring,” Johnson said.
Johnson expounded on his reason for wanting to serve on the City Council, his love of Sartell.
“I want all to have the opportunity to experience why we live here, raise our children here, walk the trails here and frequent our businesses, especially in the simpler times before Covid-19. But that, too, will pass. And we will be able to get back to a new normal and be able to fully enjoy being the envy of the area with our beautiful town.
“I want us as a community to accept everyone regardless of race, financial standing, religion or who you love,” he said. “After all, ultimately we all want a safe, welcoming place to call home. And Sartell fits the bill. I look forward to walking the neighborhoods and meeting you all in a socially-distant way and saying hello.”
Johnson can be found on Facebook. Google a search for “Aaron Johnson for Sartell City Council.” He can be emailed at email@example.com.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.