Frey visit to Litchfield

A group of city officials from Hutchinson, Cosmos and other local towns visited Litchfield last week for a discussion with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Rep. Dean Urdahl about the issues rural and urban communities face.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey visited Litchfield Thursday as state Rep. Dean Urdahl’s guest.

Urdahl said he offered Frey a similar tour he extended to St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter this past fall, to places such as Litchfield schools, city facilities and local businesses including Doosan Bobcat and First District Association.

“I saw Mayor Frey at an event, and I said, ‘Well, look, Mayor of St. Paul came out here, how come you don’t come out?’” Urdahl said. “I was just kidding around with him. I did not consider that I’d formally invited. ... And then (Frey) called up and said, ‘Can I come, too?’”

One of the reasons Frey visited Litchfield was to discuss bonding projects in Minneapolis, Urdahl said.

“Because I’m the Republican lead on bonding,” Urdahl added. “He wanted to talk about bonding, and they have some projects that they are very concerned about getting in the bonding bill.”

Another reason was for city officials from Hutchinson, Cosmos, Grove City, Willmar and Eden Valley to sit down with Frey and share issues their cities are facing during a meeting at Litchfield City Hall.

Hutchinson City Council member Steve Cook was at the meeting.

“It's just good to have elected officials from the metro area meet with some elected officials from Greater Minnesota,” Cook said. “I commend Rep. Urdahl and Mayor Frey for taking the effort to come out.”

For Hutchinson specifically, workforce development and water and wastewater regulations were discussed.

"I asked him what types of challenges they are facing. ...  We all shared common interests in LGA (local government aid) and how important it is for all of us.”

“You begin to recognize that success is mutually shared,” Frey said after the meeting. “The issues we confront are the same; need for housing supply, improved infrastructure, public schools, health care, stormwater and flood. These issues I’ve heard from council members, mayors throughout the region, and these are some of the same exact issues we’re confronting right now.”

These types of meetings help shed light on the needs of real people, Frey said.

“And the urban-rural divide is not the chasm politics makes it out to be," he said. "We have the same goals and hopes and dreams. At the end of the day, we’re all Minnesotans rallying around common causes.”

Fostering communication and understanding between rural government leaders and the mayor of Minneapolis was the purpose for Frey's visit, Urdahl said. Cook did not rule out the possibility of Frey visiting Hutchinson.

“Mayor Frey did mention that the meeting would be an opportunity to come out to Hutchinson," Cook said." So we'd welcome him to do that at some point."

Sarv Mithaqiyan is a reporter for the Leader's sister newspaper, the Litchfield Independent Review.

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