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ST. CLOUD – An official in his second term on the St. Cloud City Council is planning to run for the open mayor seat in November.

Mike Conway, 58, was first elected in 2018 to represent Ward 4, which covers much of the city's south side including the new Tech High School. He was re-elected in 2022 with about 60% of the vote.

Conway said Tuesday the timing feels right for him to run to fill the seat now occupied by Mayor Dave Kleis, who announced last month he would not run for a sixth term this fall.

"I feel I have spent enough time on the council to understand how the city functions," Conway said. "I feel I have a very good understanding of how the city operates, what things the city should be involved in and what things the city really needs to rely on the county and the state to provide."

Conway is the third person to announce plans to run for mayor, which could trigger a primary election in August. The candidate filing period for the November election runs from May 21 to June 4. In St. Cloud, the mayor and three at-large seats are up for election. All seats are nonpartisan.

Anne Buckvold, a therapist and community organizer, and Carol Lewis, a longtime City Council member, have also recently announced plans to run for mayor.

Conway said a city's most important priorities are public safety: maintaining quality police and fire departments, as well as maintaining infrastructure such as water mains, wastewater facilities and roads. He said he would continue Kleis' focus on keeping a tight budget but also look for ways to boost new development.

"I want to be fiscally conservative — being a good steward of the people's money," he said. "But think I might be a little more aggressive in helping promote more opportunities for business and finding ways the city can incentivize growth."

Conway also has an eye on maintaining the housing stock and attracting new development.

"We need to focus on what the future of the city looks like: preserving the neighborhoods but also allowing for upgrades and developing the next great neighborhoods," he said. "One of the things I really want to help the city develop is workforce housing — being able to have a person buy their first home and become much more vested in the community."

Conway grew up in Apple Valley and moved to St. Cloud three decades ago. He studied biology and education at St. Cloud State University and has worked at Wolters Kluwer for more than 20 years. He also coached youth hockey in the community for several years.

"The kids that I coached are now adults in the community," he said. "I'm really proud of the relationships I built knowing they are some of the movers and shakers in the St. Cloud area."

Conway noted Kleis is known for his engagement efforts and accessibility.

"I think those are things that certainly need to continue," he said, though he added that he might not host the same sort of "dinners with strangers" that Kleis does. Conway said his house is busy enough when his children and 14 grandchildren visit.

In addition to his role on the City Council, Conway serves on the boards for the St. Cloud Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Central Region Emergency Services, and Visit Greater St. Cloud.