Candidates on the local issues
- Article by: JIM ANDERSON and KEVIN GILES
- Star Tribune
- October 26, 2012 - 5:11 PM
Local candidates in some key Washington County races were sent surveys about local issues and asked to respond. Here are their answers.
1. Please give a summary of your qualifications for County Board.
2. What will be your priorities as a Washington County commissioner in the next term?
3. How do you differ from your opponent?
4. What else would you like voters to know?
District 1, Dennis Hegberg:
1. I have served District 1 for over 22 years, giving me multi-faceted government experience. My 40-plus years of banking and management experience, and my personal dedication to serving District 1 enable me to be a strong voice for you. I have been elected by my piers to several leadership positions. I have served as Chair of Washington County board several times. I currently serve as Chair of Washington County Finance Committee, Chair of Ramsey/Washington Resource Recovery, Chair of Ramsey/Washington County Community Action Program, Chair of Minnesota Counties Inter-Governmental Trust, and past chair of many metro joint powers committees.
2. I will continue to be a strong voice representing the people of District 1. With the help of our dedicated county staff, I will work hard to provide county services in a cost effective manner, balancing the core government services with the precious tax payers dollars available, and work to maintain our excellent triple A credit rating. I will represent District 1 and Washington County in the region and the state to insure we receive the best services possible in these very challenging times. I will continue to study issues that affect our district such as ground water.
3. My vast multi-faceted government, leadership and banking experience make me realize that we must make choices after we have all the information possible. I have seen and helped manage a considerable amount of growth in Washington County and District , delivering many projects such as Hardwood Creek Trail, Big Marine Park, County Road 8 in Hugo, CR 2(Broadway), senior housing in Hugo, Forest Lake(Trailside), Scandia and now in Mahtomedi, northern government center and library. These projects have provided services closer to the people.
4. It is an honor and privilege to represent you as Washington County Commissioner in District 1 and I will continue to work hard to make county government live within its means just as you and I have to. I will do so without compromising the level of county services that we expect and deserve. Your vote to re-elect me means you want this high level of experienced and dedicated representation to continue. Your support is very important to me and I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 6.
District 1, Fran Miron:
1. My experience in local government benefits Washington County by providing a new perspective. As a mayor, I understand the need of providing residents with quality services they deserve while maintaining fiscal values. As a farmer, I recognize the importance of expanding and retaining businesses, conserving open spaces, and planning for growth, particularly at a time of declining market values. Washington County's progress is critically coupled with the success of our communities.
2. I am running on three essential priorities to serve all constituents of Washington Country, including a commitment to unifying the county board, maintaining fiscal responsibility while continuing to serve the county's citizens in a time of significant growth, and managing that same growth, a growth so significant that the Washington County Comprehensive Plan estimates a 55 percent increase in population by the year 2030.
3. I bring a fresh, new perspective to county government backed by twenty years of experience in local government, from serving as mayor, city council member, Economic Development Authority member, and as a lifelong citizen and small business owner in Washington County. Real success in government can only come about when there is a shared vision and effort to work together. Transparency and trust is critical to a unified goal, and I believe strongly in the need to engage the public in the decision making process. I will work to build consensus and compromise as we work together to create a united vision for Washington County. In addition, as a businessman I pay taxes and understand the impact government can have on business success or failure. As a family man, I care deeply about the opportunities Washington County can provide for the next generations.
4. I have personally observed that Washington County has a dedicated staff and has managed its tax rate well. However, the county must become more dynamically engaged with local communities, their leaders, and citizens. Meanwhile, revenue challenges create opportunities to re-evaluate county programs. The expansion of businesses and job opportunities can also ease budget burdens. I have a record of expanding economic development in Hugo, and I have maintained a flat or declining tax rate over the last ten years while increasing services to residents. Throughout my tenure as mayor, I have helped manage Hugo's growth from a population of 3,000 to nearly 14,000 residents. During this expansion the city added the necessary infrastructure to support this growth. There have also been substantial increases in the services provided to residents through new health clinics, restaurants, retail centers, and other private industry. All of this has occurred while Hugo absorbed 1.3 million dollars in cuts from state and federal aid. This effort has been rewarded as the city has earned an S&P long term bond rating of AA+, along with a history of strong reserves and a low overall net debt. I will bring the same accountability and experience to the Washington County Board as its Commissioner.
District 2, Bill Pulkrabek:
1. I have a solid combination of private sector, local government and academic experience. I am a real estate agent and small business owner. I am the Past President of my local chamber of commerce. I have been a Mayor as well as a County Commissioner. I have a Master's Degree in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute along with two BAs in Economics and Political Science from the U of M.
2. My top priority as a Washington County Commissioner has been and will continue to be keeping our property taxes low. How low? I am proud of the fact that Washington County has the lowest county property tax rate in the seven county metro area. Meaning, if you moved your home or business to any of the other metro counties, you would pay more in property taxes (county portion). Ramsey County is about 80 percent higher!
3. I have been a leader in the effort to keep our property taxes low and the Washington County Board has already committed to no property tax increase again for 2013. Unfortunately, my opponent has a long, consistent, and documented record of voting for property tax increases.
4. No. If you have a specific question, please ask me.
District 2, Ted Bearth:
1. Have 26 years experience as Mayor/City Councilperson for the City of Oakdale. Have over 7 years' experience successfully managing the Landfall HRA. Numerous civic and community involvement, Oakdale Summerfest Chair- Marine Veteran and Secretary of the Oakdale Veterans Memorial Committee-Treasurer of Maplewood-Oakdale Lions Club- Member and volunteer at Guardian Angels Catholic Church- and many other committees in the Schools and County.
2. In this redistricting year, District 2 is a two year term. My priorities would be to maintain our excellent AAA bond rating, keeping tax rate stable and prioritizing our expenditure budget to see what is working and what we are paying for it. Looking at planning for the anticipated population increase and related transportation needs with our Cities and Townships.
3. Biggest difference is how we view this position. My view is that it is a privilege to be an elected official and you must treat the position as such, that means doing all the work, all the time. Contrast that with my opponent publicly saying that he can't spend all that time because he has a full time job. We also differ in that I would promote harmony on the Board even with different viewpoints among us. We can and should be civil to each other if we disagree on issues or policies.
4. That I like people, enjoy working with people to ensure the final product is the best for our residents. I hope to add common sense, co-operation and compromise when necessary, to the Board. I ask for your vote on Nov. 6. Thank you.
District 5, Lisa Weik:
1. I am uniquely qualified to serve as 2013 chairwoman to lead the board of commissioners that oversees Washington County government. I pledge an open door policy to bring Woodbury's collective voice to the table about priority topics, including plans to dynamically grow our tax base and provide strategic initiatives on-line for improved transparency. The authority of the chair determines content of weekly meeting agendas and whether to convene public forums regarding proposed county-wide policy changes. I'm also prepared to lead the Gateway Commission for a 3rd year to drive economic development and bring jobs and community stability to my district.
2. I pledge to continue an active dialog with state lawmakers to give counties more flexibility in service delivery of state-imposed mandates to gain greater budget control by county commissioners. I advocate for regional delivery of programs where it makes sense, but only with counties that match our low per capita cost for services. I am committed to maintaining an affordable tax rate to keep families in their homes and dynamically grow commerce. I support expanded long-term and strategic planning and pledge an open-door policy to consider new policy matters on a case-by-case basis with extensive public input and support.
3. I'm the only candidate in this race who won't raise property taxes for non-mandated programs or services; I oppose new programs not directly related to the health, safety and welfare of citizens.
I also understand that Minnesota law imposes a 'mandated spending floor' via Maintenance of Effort requiring counties to maintain prior levels of library services. Under my leadership (Oct 2nd county board vote), my district will see library hours delivered seven days per week in 2013 by re-directing existing revenues that are sustainable via the improving housing market and savings from other internal cost control measures.
4. A vibrant Washington County requires vision, integrity and effective delivery of county services. Being accountable to taxpayers means budgeting priorities matter. As your dedicated commissioner I have been a guardian of your tax dollars, while maintaining the county safety net protecting the most vulnerable among us.
Continued membership in the new regional economic development entity, Greater MSP, has my support in the proposed 2013 county budget to bolster the regional economy, improve property values and bring living wage jobs to Woodbury and Washington County. I am inspired and focused on a future better than the past for all of us.
District 5, Nancy Remakel:
1. I have been a resident of Woodbury for 34 years and I was a secondary science teacher in South Washington County Schools for 37 years. I served on the Washington County Library Board, Woodbury City Council from 1995-2000, Parks Commission, and Roadway Maintenance Task Force. Currently, I am the chair of the Woodbury Planning Commission. I have experience, vision, common sense and leadership ability.
2. I believe the county needs a strategic plan focused on economic development. The movement of businesses into our county will help address many of our issues by creating an expanded tax base and jobs. Some of the things the county can do to support economic development are stressing our amenities, partnering with cities, colleges and businesses, supporting job training and placement programs, encouraging industry clusters, and providing an efficient regulatory environment.
3. I have lived in Woodbury for 34 years and have been an active volunteer for almost two decades. I understand Woodbury's history. I have the ability to bring people together and solve problems. We need every ones input, not just the people who have the same thought process as mine. I can disagree with people without being disagreeable and bring them to consensus. The big picture will be my focus and I will not try to be the administrator or micromanager.
4. Woodbury is a wonderful place to live. It is welcoming to all people and that is what makes it so great. We have great schools, an outstanding park and trail system, and many amenities like the YMCA, Central Park, Stafford Library, Bielenberg Sports Center and the list goes on. Our quality of life depends on planning for the future with vision, leadership and common sense. I will bring that to the job of Washington County Commissioner representing the citizens of Woodbury.
OAK PARK HEIGHTS MAYOR
1. What are the key issues for the Oak Park Heights City Council over the next few years and, in connection with that, what are your priorities as mayor?
2. What will a new St. Croix River bridge and the related road construction mean for residents of Oak Park Heights?
1. My vision is that Oak Park Heights will remain a small city with an effective City government that is approachable and accountable to its residents. My priorities are that we continue to offer affordable high-quality services and maintain our conservative fiscal policy to save funds for infrastructure, such as streets and sewer projects. By saving now we will avoid having to borrow funds in the future, and this benefits our taxpayers. The City has been saving funds to replace the existing park shelters at Valley View and Cover Parks, and we will begin replacing the wooden fences around Swager Park and Valley View Park in 2013.
2. I supported a tunnel design under the river in the same corridor as the existing bridge -- a project that would have complied with the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, as have 14 other replacement river bridge crossings on the St. Croix River and its tributaries. The new river bridge project will have no direct benefit to the City of Oak Park Heights. Now that the City of Oak Park Heights has approved the project, we must move on and work with the Governor to keep his promise so that the taxpayers of Oak Park Heights will not be responsible for the $1.9 million to relocate utilities along Highway 36. In order to minimize business disruption, I will work to have the Highway 36 business corridor reconstruction completed in one year, not two, as proposed by MnDOT. It's also important that we work with MnDOT to relocate the sanitary and storm sewer piping systems under the Molter Site, where a new playground was recently installed. These piping systems cannot be replaced in this location because the site sits on 70 feet of fly ash from the A.S. King power plant. The City will have to find a new route these piping systems around the Molter site. Working with MnDOT on this reconstruction now, can save millions of taxpayer dollars in the future.
1. The St. Croix River Crossing will be a big issue for the Council during the next several years.
There will need to be good communication and co-operation between the Council and all
those involved with the construction; MN Dot, Washington County, Stillwater, Bayport,
businesses, and residents. Good relationships will be key to successful outcomes.
Next year, Washington County will begin a study of Osgood Avenue. The City Council will need
to collaborate with the County as to what the future will be, not only of the road, but also safe
routes for pedestrians, with possible addition of trails, and maintaining accesses for businesses.
2. There will definitely be inconveniences during the construction, such as changes of traffic patterns,
noise, and dust. Keeping residents informed of the progress of construction will be very
important. Once construction is complete, much of the congestion at the intersections, should
improve, especially at the frontage roads. With the addition of trails along Highway 36, residents
will have a safe way to walk or bike through the city.
Stillwater City Council
1. What are the key issues for the Stillwater City Council over the next few years and, in connection with that, what are your priorities?
2. The City Council has contributed thousands of dollars in property tax revenue to the St. Croix bridge coalition. Is that right or wrong and why?
1. The most pressing challenge facing Stillwater is how to best use limited City resources to preserve and improve upon quality of life for residents while supporting Stillwater as a welcoming destination. The "new normal" is that cities need to do more with less. Stillwater will need creative solutions, from its City Council, from its residents and from its business leaders, to meet this challenge. The City needs to better engage and leverage the strong culture of community and civic involvement in Stillwater to help stretch the City's limited dollars and fill the gap between what residents want (and are willing to pay for) and what the City can realistically provide.
Four years from now, the car, bicycle and pedestrian traffic patterns in downtown Stillwater will be very different. The City needs to provide for sensible public development while being fiscally responsible. As a City Council member, I will exercise fiscal responsibility and hold the line on property taxes.
Another of my priorities is curing "festival fatigue", that is, week-in-and-week-out events downtown Stillwater from May to October. I will support fewer events that have the support of residents and a broad spectrum of downtown businesses. Lastly, in Ward 2, the City needs to do more to enforce its ordinances against dilapidated and other problem properties.
2. I see three problems with how the St. Croix bridge coalition funding was and is being handled. First, the bridge coalition is co-chaired by the mayor. Even if there is not a legal requirement to recuse himself from casting votes on the City Council to fund the coalition, I believe the mayor should do so to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Second, the amounts and sources of funds paid to the coalition need to be clearly legally permissible. If the City is in a grey area, that's a problem. The City was not on firm footing before and the State Auditor called them on that. Third, the new St. Croix bridge is a done deal. I don't see a need to make any further payments to the coalition to lobby and advocate. That money has better uses.
1. Preserving our vibrant Historic Downtown, Fiscal Sensibility, Transparency & Public Input are the key issues for our council looking forward over the next few years.
The face of our Historic Downtown could change drastically over the next few years. We're going to have some pretty major construction happening on HWY 36 in preparation for the new bridge and with our current bridge closed, some businesses downtown are seeing less business as a result of less people coming through downtown. I want to work to ensure that our downtown remains a vibrant destination for our residents as well as for visitors throughout the metro area and beyond. I will work hard to make sure Stillwater continues to be the wonderful place to live and work as well as being seen as a great destination for our visitors.
I want to work to make sure we are making the best use of our residents' tax dollars. I've seen some major spending on items I would consider questionable at best. We need to make a distinction between what the city defines as a" necessary" project and projects that are "nice to have". Stillwater is an amazing community with great amenities. I want to see that continue but I want to make sure we are not spending money we don't have or spending senselessly on things we don't need.
I've been door knocking pretty much every night for the past few months and one of the biggest complaints I hear from our residents is that they feel they don't have a voice in the process of local government. I will work to ensure that our residents feel like they have an opportunity to be heard and that their input is considered and respected. As a council we cannot effectively represent our citizens if we don't allow them a voice in the process.
2. Obviously, using TIF funds to pay for a lobbyist was a mistake. In general, I feel it's appropriate for the city to engage a lobbyist to assist our city on issues within the State Legislature and the US Congress. However I feel that in this instance it was the wrong decision. The new bridge is a regional project that impacts and benefits much more than just Stillwater yet we carried a big part of financial burden. I strongly object to the latest $10,000 payment to the coalition. It seems that this project is a done deal and that MnDot is starting construction early next year. I'm not sure why we are paying a lobbyist to promote a project that the President, Congress, Minnesota & Wisconsin have already signed off on.
COTTAGE GROVE MAYOR
1. What are the key issues for the Cottage Grove City Council over the next few years and, in connection with that, what are your priorities?
2. Why do you think Cottage Grove needs/does not need a city charter?
3. Where do you stand on the two referendum questions?
1. Well planned growth. My strategy has a three pronged approach - Marketing to Housing Developers to provide various types of housing, both single and multi-family type developments to diversify our housing needs. Attracting new businesses to our Business Park and to work with our existing businesses to discuss growth plans. A Commercial Marketing Plan to add new Commercial and Restaurant options.
We have created a new marketing plan that has successfully increased interest in Cottage Grove from businesses not currently located in Cottage Grove. We also started a "Shop Local" marketing campaign to help support and increase awareness of our existing businesses.
2. I do not believe a City Charter is needed. We have a representative form of government that allows those who were elected to serve, to be voted out of office every 4 years. There are many examples of Charter Cities costing more money to run than statutory cities. We are already a fiscally conservative city. We do not need another layer of government.
The issue of a Charter was brought about by one issue. The new City Hall/Public Safety building. If building this facility would have raised taxes, I would have supported a referendum. This project did not.
3. I support the referendum questions. We put together a Community Center Citizen's Task Force 4 years ago, based on a citizen survey that showed a desire for more Park amenities. They listened to citizen's requests and came up with a recommendation to provide for facilities that are highly desired in Cottage Grove.
We closed our outdated community pool in 2012, using that money to build our first ever Splash Pad. To build a larger aquatic facility will need taxpayer support. I view parks amenities as a want and not a need. So I support letting the taxpayers decide.
1. Place a one year moratorium (perhaps longer based on economic stability) on any spending other than basic budget; HONESTY AND TRANSPARENCY; eliminate the 3 minute limit for citizen input at council meetings Public Forum; replace Government Access TV with Public Access TV; treat people as citizens and not subjects.
2. In the past 2 years the mayor and city council majority have approved or are proposing to spend $50 million. A city charter could provide some additional checks and balances for the citizens paying the bills to have their voice heard.
3. The city felt $70,000/year to maintain the old municipal pool was not cost affective. This pool used approx 1.5 million gallons water a season. The city felt it was better to install a "splash pad" costing $750,000. This splash pad used over 4 million gallons of water in 2 months. The city feels we should have 4 or perhaps more of these. NO!
1. A big challenge in Cottage Grove is the lack of traffic needed to sustain our local retail environment. Too many Cottage Grove dollars are spent in other communities. I would work with constituents and business leaders to create an environment that brings more dollars to Cottage Grove. I want to focus on convincing employers to set up shop here, add entertainment or retail that cannot be found in surrounding communities. More business here will diversify the tax base, lessen the tax burden, and lead to a variety in retail our citizens want.
2. One of the reasons the charter was pushed forward was because too many citizens felt that the current mayor and council were not giving due attention to their concerns. A city hall facility that is the most extravagant structure in the city was the driving force behind the charter. A charter is not a bad thing, if set up properly, the charter can provide for more equal representation amongst the city and protects the community from excessive spending by the council.
3. My personal vote will be a No on the referendums. I cannot in good conscience add to a homeowner's property tax bill when there are too many citizens who are unemployed or underemployed. We have many citizens on a fixed income (Social Security), who will see their first COLA adjustment in three years. These referendums will eat up most, if not all of that increase. I have kids, and these referendums would provide nice amenities for them, but there I will provide alternatives for them.
COTTAGE GROVE CITY COUNCIL
(Same questions as in mayor's race)
1.As one of the few communities in the Twin Cities Metro Area with readily developable land still available, we must be very smart and focused regarding overall growth. If re-elected, I will continue to work closely with the Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority, City Staff, and City Council Colleagues towards widening and diversifying our city's tax base through sensible commercial development as a way of creating a vibrant, compelling commercial environment; including retail, service, and dining amenities that keep Cottage Grove residents shopping locally. I will also continue my work with all stakeholders involved on further growing our city's already healthy Business Park to draw in additional industry and living wage jobs.
2. Our system of government has served the City very well for almost 50 years. It is my belief that the same system of government will serve us well for the next 50 years as well. That said, a city charter is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. Like any other piece of government legislation, which is essentially what a charter is, its effectiveness or lack thereof depends upon how it is written and implemented. In my view, there is no clear need or desire on the part of the majority of Cottage Grove residents to move towards a home rule charter system of governance in our community that would add an additional layer of government to what already exists today.
3. I fully support both of the local referendum questions as I feel the added amenities and parks improvements will serve our residents well for many years to come. I also think both are important in terms of attracting other metro area residents to our community for athletics tournaments, recreational opportunities, etc. - which, in turn, creates added traffic that helps all of our local businesses thrive.
1. Lack of rental apartments/homes, especially for our suitable for seniors, young adults, and growing families, and especially in the more affordble range. High scale rentals are not available either. We need more rental housing options across the range of income levels and life cycle. Demand for rentals is up all over.
2. I don't think it is necessary due to the fact that we have 4 year terms, staggered between the 4 Council Member positions. So every 2 years, 2 Council Members are up for election. If the majority of the voters are not pleased with the direction that the City is going, then that will show up at the ballot box.
3. I supported the plan of the Council to support placing the 2 referendum questions on the ballot for the voters to decide. These amenities are "wants" and not critical functions of the City Government. They will have a small impact on the taxpayers, so therefore, they should be voted upon by those affected by them. This is different from the new Public Safety/City Hall Facility we just built and are moving into at the end of October. These Government services are vital and necessary to have a safe City that has excellent services for it's residents & businesses.
1. C.G. needs to brace for the impending federal "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax increases. Furthermore, the Wal-Mart opening is going to have a detrimental impact on small business. The city needs to concentrate on two separate tracks. First, work proactively with the business community in the creation of a strategic plan to sustain small businesses. Second, engage in continuity of operations planning by undergoing a process of prioritizing city services and building contingency plans for maintaining critical functions. Having been the planning chief to the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development during the 2011 State shutdown, I know the importance of both.
2. I don't believe that our governance system is structurally out of balance. However, I do believe our elected officials need to ask harder questions and demand clear answers. Our community needs to have well informed proactive leaders, who know to analyze situations, plan strategically and facilitate community conversation; these are skills that I excel in. Furthermore, I have a widest breadth of professional expertise in planning for excellence in government administration.
3. Although I think the referendum proposals are well thought out and would benefit our city, now is not the time to pass either one of them. Together, it may not seem a great deal for each household to pitch in an additional $75 annually; however, that does not take into consideration that we could be seeing substantial tax increases from the federal government in the next year. I am committed to taking a conservative financial approach to future community investments in light of national concerns and ensure that no subset of residents are imposed with substantial property tax increases.
1. The primary issue will be recovering from our city's economic collapse of the past 4 - 6 years, and this will be my number one priority. I will develop an aggressive campaign that encourages successful corporations with high paying careers to expand into Cottage Grove. The campaign will tout current low land values, the incoming commuter rail, and a commitment to support the growth of our commercial base. We will need to ensure the Met Council sees Cottage Grove as a destination city - not simply a "Park and Ride" community. We need to be sure that our best interests are kept at the forefront of this conversation.
2. We have to ensure the fiasco of the City Hall project can never happen again. It is a disgrace that the current City Council and mayor spent over $16 million dollars of taxpayer money to complete this entire project while ignoring the preferences of a large bloc (I contend an overwhelming majority) of citizens. The City Charter, if written effectively, will remove layers of bureaucracy that distance citizens from the decision making process. Contrary to the ideas of some, I do not believe the City Council and mayor are "the government." Rather, I believe "the government" are the citizens of Cottage Grove, and we are simply elected to honestly and ethically represent them.
3. I will vote no on both of the questions. I agree that we need more entertainment options for our youth and young families, but there are too many people in our community who cannot afford $10/month more in taxes. To fill this need, I would offer incentives to private industry to build and operate facilities such as a water park or sports complex. In exchange for these incentives, I would require that Cottage Grove citizens get reduced rates or special preferences for "x" years. This shifts the tax burden and risk from the taxpayer to the owner/operator.
1. According to a recent survey of Cottage Grove residents, the top three issues they see are high taxes, lack of jobs, and lack of retail. Those are the issues that will continue to be front and center moving forward. I believe that by tackling the first (high taxes), people will have more money to do with as they see fit, which can lead to more money spent at local retail and more jobs (as well as more incentive for businesses and residents to move to Cottage Grove). All three issues are connected.
2. Cottage Grove needs a city charter because residents feel they were not being heard by the current council. When residents petitioned to put the largest spending project in city history up for a referendum vote, the current council (4-1 vote) chose to dismiss the voice of the residents and reworked the already approved funding for the project so that they did not have to put it to a referendum. A charter would hopefully put checks and balances on the city government that would avoid this type of behavior in the future.
3. In terms of the two current referendum questions, I do not believe that further increasing spending (the City Hall project increased the property tax levy by $550,000 per year for the next 20 years) in the midst of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression is a very wise move. It certainly does not mirror the situation that many residents are facing in their own personal budgets right now. However, at least residents get to vote on it this time, unlike the City Hall project. If these projects are what the residents want, then that is fine.
1. The biggest issue we face in Cottage Grove is a long term vision for our city. It is imperative that we create a city that supports our residents and also entices non-residents to visit therefore bringing more dollars in to support our retail businesses. We have the opportunity to bring in industrial and commercial businesses that provide good paying jobs and unique retail that appeals to both residents and non-residents which in turn supports the tax base for the amenities that make a city a desirable place to live. We are at a threshold, create a great vision and become an even greater community.
2. It is unfortunate that the current council's actions have created distrust in the community there fore leading to the process of creating a council. It is my desire that enough change is created within the council members that trust can be rebuilt and residents will no longer feel a charter is necessary. If that does not occur then it is important to put a charter in place so residents feel their voices are heard and can ensure hasty decisions are not made.
3. I am in support of the referendum for the aquatic center, I know many residents have wanted something to replace the public pool that was closed. I believe allowing the citizens to vote is a great way to ensure the right decision is being made. I question the second referendum, primarily due to the splash pad. We have not seen the financial impact of the current splash pad so adding a second seems irresponsible. This year we are experiencing a serve drought so I also question adding a luxury that benefits few and would be a significant drain to our water reserves.
WOODBURY CITY COUNCIL
1. What are the key issues for the Woodbury City Council over the next few years and, in connection with that, what are your priorities?
2.How should the Gateway Corridor on I-94 bedeveloped and what, if any, should Woodbury's role be?
3. What contrasts do you see between yourself and the other candidates?
1. Our key issues remain developing our community consistent with our comprehensive plan, economic development, and providing high quality services in a resource constrained environment. As our community matures, continued redevelopment and ensuring our neighborhoods remain thriving places will also be critical. Plans for new residential and commercial growth in Phase 2 are poised to begin in early 2013 and the infrastructure necessary is prepared or planned for construction in 2013. The expansion of Bielenberg Sports Center as a community asset is another key issue. As development continues, traffic and other concerns of residents will continue to be strategic issues for our community.
2. Woodbury has been active in the Gateway Corridor for several years. We believe new, expanded and current transportation and transit investments for the East Metro are vital to our economic vitality and the existing business community. Woodbury supports the current recommendations and plans of the Commission. We look forward to the draft environmental statement for the recommended alternatives, along with the alternatives analysis. I support our current position on the Gateway Corridor recommendations.
3. I have served on the City Council for eight years and have been an active volunteer, leader, and board member in many successful organizations in our community during my 20 years living in Woodbury. As Woodbury begins its next stage of development, I believe we need to be guided by our core community values - comprehensive planning, financial discipline, and consistent leadership - as these remain critical to our long term success.
1. For me, the key issues are simple. We need to continue to do a good job of keeping taxes at reasonable levels while maintaining the services that are important to our residents. We also need to keep the big picture in mind. We don't want to make sacrifices today that will catch up to us in the future. We need to continue our tradition of careful planning as we enter our next phase of development.
2. Woodbury has been well-represented on the Gateway Corridor committee. Mayor Stephens and former Mayor Hargis have done a great job of communicating our needs to the group that has been studying the Gateway Corridor. Our role should be to continue actively studying the issue and providing input and leadership. The bottom line is that we must ensure Woodbury and the east metro have adequate means of efficiently transporting our residents to and from St. Paul and Minneapolis. Connectivity to the downtown areas is vital to Woodbury's economic development.
3. If I'm re-elected, I will continue the work I've done during my two terms on city council. I don't believe we need to make wholesale changes. I think we have done a great job during difficult economic times. We've kept taxes low and services high. Even though the country has been in a recession, Woodbury has earned the AAA rating from Moody's by maintaining our tradition of sound financial practices. Our council and staff has a healthy respect for each other. We keep things positive, even through disagreement. We are able to do this because we are all focused on the big picture. We make decisions based on data, facts and careful study. I will not base decisions on narrow interests, but rather what is best for Woodbury as a whole.
1. Since about 2007 the rapid growth of our city and the traffic that comes along with this is a major concern of our 60,000 residents based on the bi-yearly city survey. This will become increasingly more apparent with the phase 2 development of the southern section of our city. This development will bring in an estimated 20,000 more people. My priority is to lead the council with vital growth strategies that will allow our city to continue to be a sought-after community where families will want to make Woodbury their home, and others a location to work or have a business.
2. My vision of bringing Bus Rapid Transit to the community is supported by the outcome of the Gateway Corridor Commission. It is the most cost-effective and allows for the maximum flexibility as Woodbury's population changes and grows. It is a must that the city has a voice in the development of the Gateway Corridor and partner with other key stakeholders. With large employers along the corridor like 3M, the new business park at Manning & I-94, and the demands of business owners wanting public transportation near their place of business Woodbury must play a role.
3. One of the biggest differences between the two incumbents and me is my desire to bring a representative Ward system to the residents of Woodbury. A Ward system would bring a voice from every part of our city to the ears of the city council. Much like the four chambers of the human heart work together for the health and vitality of our bodies so would a four quadrant Ward system bring strength to our city. None of the current council members running for re-election spoke in favor of my proposal to give a voice of the city to the council.
1. Growth and traffic. My priorities are long range planning and open development in phases. Also, work with the school board so the community is prepared for the growth.
2. The Gateway Corridor should use the best transportation method as determined by the commission study and cost/benefit analysis. The City of Woodbury would have a say as to what method they see as feasible, if any, since the corridor will connect through Woodbury.
3. I am a candidate that will get things done and not just talk about it. I will respond to resident concerns and requests and bring a can-do common sense attitude to the council
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