was in elementary school — perhaps as early as first grade— when I won a coloring contest. One kid from each grade was awarded the prize: Lunch with the city’s mayor at Wild Things Pizza. 

The mayor at the time was Mary Schwartz. She was Mora’s first, and so far only, woman mayor. 

As a 6-year-old, there couldn’t have been a higher honor. During the lunch we sat eating pizza, discussing our favorite colors and obvious future careers as artists.

 When we were finished, Mayor Schwartz gave us each a gift: a pad of multi-colored paper customized with our name printed on each sheet. 

My name was misspelled as “Kristen” of course, as it often is. Though she didn’t have to, Mayor Schwartz immediately made sure I received a new pad of paper with my name spelled correctly. 

Come to think of it, those papers were probably printed and bound at my current workplace, as it was something Kanabec Publications did a lot of 30 years ago. We still do. 

I treasured those little rainbow notepads using them only for the most important lists, messages, drawings and letters. They were used so sparingly they lasted me all the way to college. 

It’s been a long time since I thought of my lunch with the mayor. Then last week, I sat interviewing Mora’s mayors of the last 30 years (see the story on page 9). Slowly that memory resurfaced as I realized the woman in front of me, Mary Schwartz, was that same woman I ate pizza with as a child. 

As I spoke with her, those who worked with her and her son, it became clear she is a woman who prioritized the city’s children and families.

Mora than a memory

I grew up in Mora. I took swimming lessons in the city’s pool both before and after its renovation. I spent countless afternoons playing at Kids’ Kingdom park and today I take my own daughter there to play. I’m still uncomfortable going up and down the tire “well.” 

In my discussion last week with the mayors, I found it enthralling to hear their talks about the importance of a city investing in a community, even if it meant losing money. 

Former Mayor Roger Crawford recalled the city’s decision to renovate the pool at considerable expense. The Mora Aquatic Center operated at a financial loss, but at a considerable gain for residents. These things are crucial to building a healthy community and overall make it appealing for people to live and play here. 

While my pool and pizza party days may seem like just a childhood memory, the past and future investments of our local leaders are key to our city’s survival. 

I’m thankful to those who had the foresight to make such investments. 

Kirsten Faurie is the editor of the Kanabec County Times. She can be contacted at editor@moraminn.com or by calling 320-225-5128. 


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