The best way to make progress as decision makers of a city is to collaborate. In the case of disagreements, express them with civility and respect —that is according to the last five mayors of Mora who gathered to reminisce about their terms.
Mora’s mayors of the last 30 years had coffee and chatted Nov. 18, discussing in particular the biggest issues during each’s tenure.
• Mary Schwartz, who served from 1992-2002. She was Mora’s first, and so far only, woman mayor.
• Roger Crawford, 2003-2006
• Greg Ardner, 2007-2014
• Jack L’Heureux, 2015-2018
• Alan Skramstad, 2019-present
Schwartz said that during her term, some of the biggest issues addressed by the city council was the completion of Kid’s Kingdom/Lion’s Park and establishing a shovel-ready industrial park. She said while those were the big projects, it took a lot of work from others to complete.
“We are just a small piece in that compared to all the people who did the work,” she said.
During his term, Roger Crawford recalled the city needed to decide whether it should abandon the Mora Aquatic Center or give it costly renovations.
“People were very passionate about it,” he said. “The end turned out well but it was rough along the way.”
For many of the mayors, the most memorable issues of their terms were often the most controversial.
That was especially true for Greg Ardner, who was mayor when the city decided to disband the city police department and add a replacement contract with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement services. Acquiring properties via eminent domain in order to build a crosswind runway at the Mora Airport was another.
Projects often overlapped terms, noted Greg Ardner. Many of the mayors picked up projects from the predecessors, and left some projects to be finished by their successors.
Construction of the crosswind runway was completed in the next Mayor’s term: Jack L’Heureux.
L’Heureux said he was proud of being able to close the long saga of the runway, as well as large street and utility projects along Grove and Wood Streets.
Both projects had heavy impacts on select individuals, but also the community as a whole.
“The hardest decisions are the ones with big impacts,” said L’Heureux. “But you have to think of the community at large, not just individuals.”
For the city’s current mayor, Al Skramstad, his biggest issue could be boiled down into one word: COVID.
“It has been a challenge to manage through this,” he said while giving credit to the mayors who proceeded him. “These guys worked hard to keep Mora moving forward, and today, that’s all we can do.”
Crawford and L’Heureux both spoke about the importance of projects that supported and provided for the community, even if those investments didn’t have a monetary return. For example, Crawford noted that the city pool operates at a significant loss every year, but it improves the quality of life for so many residents and those of neighboring communities.
“Investment in things that don’t generate revenue can really make our community what it is,” said L’Heureux.
Ardner noted that despite any contentious actions and disagreements with others, he liked the work.
“I enjoyed it and got along with the staff and other council members,” he said.
For Skramstad, respect and civility towards others on the council was key.
“We don’t always agree, but we can go have coffee and can get along,” he said.