Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus and Algona City Councilman Troy Linnell share with the Auburn-Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday what it’s like to walk in their shoes. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus and Algona City Councilman Troy Linnell share with the Auburn-Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday what it’s like to walk in their shoes. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Leaders of Auburn, Pacific and Algona talk triumphs and challenges of their jobs

Yes, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier and Algona City Councilman Troy Linnell represent different cities.

But as they shared with the Auburn-Area Chamber of Commerce at its Tuesday afternoon luncheon, each day they battle many of the same dragons.

Like the daunting cost of street maintenance and construction, in a time when funds from federal and state governments that once flowed to projects like those have dried up.

There’s also the endless pursuit of grants in furtherance of city goals.

And, critically important, devising ways to attract job-providing-and-tax-base-broadening businesses.

Guier described an ordinance Pacific passed months ago, tooled to attract business.

“If you bring your business to the city of Pacific and provide five, family-wage jobs, we’re going to credit that to your permitting process,” Guier said. “It’s a good way to attract people, and they want family-wage jobs, and we want people to live and work in the city of Pacific.”

Key to attracting business, in Backus’ eyes, is “having a council that is going to be creative and thoughtful about what it means to do business in the city. … It really does take a collaborative process and the understanding that we need to attract the right businesses to our city.”

The three also described their greatest challenges.

“This year, funding for needed street and sidewalk repair,” Linnell said. “Our roads are old.”

Backus’ most monumental challenges turn out to be growth and the cost of infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is incredibly expensive. For every mile of road that you see, it’s not just the pavement cost, it’s also the infrastructure cost. It could be millions of dollars for one single mile of road because of water, sewer, storm, all the infrastructure that goes underneath that you don’t see.”

Guier agreed.

“I think we’re all facing the same issues of how we find funding for street construction. It’s really kind of a fine balance: we don’t want to tax our residents or our businesses too much, but we still need to take care of these things. With the city constantly growing, we’re always looking at that. Our biggest challenge, too, is having the staff, with all the growth that is taking place. We’re a very small city. We have like 45 (employees) handing all the day-to-day business.”

On a lighter note, each named a superpower they would like to possess.

“Time manipulation,” said Linnell, adding that there never seem to be the right number of hours in a day to do all he needs to do.

Backus pined for two powers: being able to function on no sleep; and teleporting to the many meetings she has to attend every week and month, near and far.

And Guier, well, she wished for a magic wand “to go over and touch the HESCOS, gone, boom! That street’s repaired, that infrastructure’s done, that pump put in,” Guier said.

HESCOS are the 8-foot-high flood barriers at Pacific Park.


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