Cross touts experience, track record in bid for another Baxter council term
Touting 24 years of experience governing the city, Mark Cross is running for another term on the Baxter City Council.
Mark Cross is a stalwart in Baxter city government if there’s ever been one.
Boasting 24 years of experience on the Baxter City Council — going back to 1994, with a two-year gap in which he served on city commissions anyway — Cross is easily the longest-tenured member of the governing body and one that’s had a driver’s seat perspective on Baxter affairs longer than most city staffers.
An architect for the Department of Military Affairs, self-described fiscal conservative, and lawmaker with decades of experience in times of growth or regression, economic prosperity or economic famine, Cross cast his hat in the ring for another term as the city looks to face one of its most challenging stretches in modern history.
“I enjoy it. I enjoy being involved in development that's going on, as well as the whole idea of shaping your city — especially when we were tackling issues like the landscape ordinance and the architectural ordinance,” Cross said. “All those things fit very nicely into what I do, and I felt that with my expertise in … different issues. It’s rewarding to see projects get built and designed. That's just what's exciting about it.”
“The other thing that I think is important is service to the community. If you have something to give, and you’ve got the time, and you've got the desire, you should do what you can to make things better,” Cross added. “I'm a firm believer that you can't complain about something if you don't want to be part of the solution.”
Currently, two seats are up for election on the Baxter City Council, but Cross is the only candidate who filed for a seat during the filing period this year. His name will be the only one on the ballot come Nov. 3. Two other candidates, John Ward and Lon Schmidt, have launched write-in campaigns for one of the two seats up for election. Of these three, the two names that garner the most votes will be seated on the council.
A Baxter resident since 1990, Cross, 60, has played a part as a liaison for the city, as well as served on city commissions for the parks board, utilities, industrial park, long-range planning and economic development. In a private capacity, he has ties to the Lions Club, Eagles Ski Patrol, local Freemasons chapter, Boy Scouts, as well as experience as a soccer coach and YMCA volunteer. He and his wife Nancy have three adult children and three grandchildren.
In recent years, the Baxter City Council has largely been effective in its mission, Cross said, with substantial growth in terms of population, economic capital, public amenities and other features of the community. He pointed to the city’s proactive and successful push to expand its outreach as one highlight.
With COVID-19 and related economic upheaval a looming challenge for municipalities across the country as they plan their budgets, Cross said the council will have to strike a difficult balance between funding the city’s mandated services and curbing unnecessary taxation. With sources of funding — everything from grants and government aid, down to the local tax base — likely to shrink in the coming months, there will be difficult considerations.
“Every year, the cost of doing business goes up and it's a huge challenge to keep providing cost-effective services with a cost of living increase,” Cross said. “You still have to run the city and you still have to maintain all the infrastructure that has been built. And you have to do it in as cost-effective manner as possible, because you can't waste the people's dime.”
Still, as considerable as these challenges are, Cross said he’ll be leaning on a wealth of experience from decades of solving problems like the city is facing now. The city council has effectively governed, he said, and it will continue to do so.
“All of a sudden, I’m the senior member of the Baxter City Council. I've been here longer than most employees have been here,” Cross said. “But, that’s what gives me an advantage. It gives me a historical perspective that a lot of people don't have — what has happened here before, what have we done, what has worked in the past, what hasn't worked in the past, and when we changed our approach to make it better.”
GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch .