"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Thu, Jan 26th, 2012
Posted in All Progress Edition
Posted in All Progress Edition
The city of Mabel elected a new mayor this last fall, something they haven't done for a long time. Jim Westby was the mayor of Mabel for fourteen years. At the city council meeting in January, a new mayor was running the show.
Liz Folstad was born and raised in Mabel. She graduated from Mabel-Canton High School in 1995 and moved away for college. She returned to live in Mabel near her family seven years ago.
Folstad never considered going into politics, even at a local level, until recently. She was approached by a group of people who asked her if she would consider running for mayor in the fall election.
"At first I just laughed it off," said Folstad. She thought the city was doing fine, and the current mayor was doing well.
Then Folstad started hearing rumors about the future community center and how people were upset about how the issue was being handled. Folstad was approached again, this time by more people.
"I think they felt that Mabel needed a change, and they were frustrated," said Folstad.
She is not sure exactly why they chose her, but said she has a good head on her shoulders. She was also part of the steering committee for the community center, and says she feels that Mabel needs one. However, she is able to see both sides of an issue, and did not come into her position with a personal agenda.
Folstad discussed the idea with her family and decided to run for mayor. "I thought maybe I could make a difference," she said.
After she agreed to run, people went around town hanging up flyers and going door to door looking for her vote. That was the Friday before the election.
Folstad didn't find out that she had won the election right away. She had surgery the day after the election, and found out when she awoke from the anesthetic and the nurses told her she had won.
Folstad explained the city has been trying to get a community center built for a few years now. They have a large amount of money saved up and raised for the project. The problem that many people in town are having is that many people think the residents should be able to vote on whether or not the city goes ahead with the project.
According to Folstad, the city is waiting to hear from Rural Development, then they can put bids out and get a new estimate of just how much money they will need to build the community center.
Folstad was signed in as the mayor of Mabel during the council meeting in January.
"Until that first meeting, I was scared, nervous, and excited," shared Folstad. "I have some big shoes to fill. But I like a challenge."
Knowing the people on the council was a big help, as they welcomed her warmly. Folstad said she has been received well so far, and has had many people, even ones who do not live in Mabel, congratulate her.
There have been conversations with former Mayor Westby, and Folstad said they will meet again to discuss things. She said they are trying to get a grant for the sewer plant as they have had some issues, but other than that, the Community Center is the biggest issue she will have to deal with during her time as mayor.
Besides now working as the mayor of Mabel, Folstad works as the accountant for the city of Spring Grove. She is also a member of the Mabel Ambulance Service, and has been an EMT, along with several members of her family, for many years.
"It really ties you to the community," Folstad says of being on the ambulance crew. "Everybody recognizes you, and that's how people know you."
As far as plans for the city go, Folstad said, like every other town, she would like to get more businesses, as well as more kids coming to the school. Folstad is hoping that she can see things with fresh, young eyes, and come up with some new ideas. There's no telling what the future holds.