These are just some of the reasons I hope to be re-elected to our City Council. If you have other issues or items you want to hear my opinion, please contact me!
The St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce asks candidates to fill out a questionnaire. See my answers here: East Metro Voter Guide
Campaign Issue: Taxes
Taxes. Our city requires a budget of just about $100million dollars a year to support and maintain. 41% of that budget comes from our property taxes and is one of the biggest responsibilities of your elected city council. As a councilmember, this is by far the biggest item that comes before the council. Budgets drive programs and services. Navigating the line of service levels and expectations our community demands, and their budget implications is something you as voters require your elected representatives to understand the communities needs, navigate the requirements necessary, and make strategic choices on how to proceed. I’m proud of the budgets I’ve voted for and worked with the council and staff to create the last 3 years. Ensuring that growth in our community is managed, ensuring the budget doesn’t grow needlessly to support the growth, and making hard choices on programs and services, and challenging staff to efficiently use our taxes to deliver them, is the most important thing we do as a council. My experience running businesses, developing budgets and forecasts grants me a unique perspective, and my attention to detail can be seen in budget workshops and budget preparations.
In the 2022 resident survey, completed using a 3rd party with scientific research methods, 49% of residents support an increase in taxes to maintain city services, up from 42% just 5 years ago. In that same survey, the value of city services received a 69% excellent or good rating, up from 66% 5 years ago. The median-valued home pays about $95 a month for all city services. The survey says that 43% of residents think this is either somewhat or very high, up from 34% 5 years ago. This indicates that an increasing number of residents feel that the for $95 a month, the value of services received are not keeping pace with either expectations or the “bang-for-the-buck”. How do we address that? It’s by ensuring that the delivery of services is efficient, and that we work hard to control spending by making decisions on “want to” have’s versus “need to” haves. In the post-COVID times, inflation is on the rise, and ensuring that we have qualified and capable staff members becomes and continues to be increasingly expensive. Hard decisions about staffing and services will need to be made in the coming budgets to improve our ratings in these areas. https://www.woodburymn.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/177
Campaign Issue: Community Engagement
One of the big items I led the council in, was in response to previous surveys and experiences of engagement between the community and the city. In the aftermath of George Floyd, the council held listening sessions, and heard the community sharing their experiences and their concerns. One of my learnings and notes was that in the new world of civic engagement and community relationships, we need to change and improve how we communicate and engage with our community. While a large element of this was around diversity, equity and inclusion, the broader issue was overall engagement. We saw it during road-rehab projects, or even during the work around the city budget. The largest thing the council does, and we would receive 3, maybe 4 pieces of direct engagement. But during a road-rehab project, or new development project would occur, we would certainly hear it, usually near the end of the process. We demanded better, and we should be better, and so I’m proud to have led the charge for a new position on staff, the Community Engagement and Equity Coordinator. Ensuring that both staff and the council hear from the community, and that our strategies the communicate create opportunities for all voices to be heard, is the cornerstone of a representative community. I look forward to continuing to challenge our communications team, to ensure all voices are given opportunity, and that we work to ensure our policies are equitable to all, given everyone opportunity to realize the goals in Woodbury.
Campaign Issue: Anti-Activist
I have seen first hand, what happens when a city council is overtaken by activist members and agenda's. I'm not that candidate.
I don't come into this election with a long list of policies or directions I'd like to see Woodbury take. I want to hear from you what YOU think the city should be doing.
I've seen when council's are aggressive and cutting edge in their policies and agendas. Too often the voice of reason gets drowned out. It's important to hear all sides of an issue or policy to make measured and strategic decisions. I promise to continue to work for Woodbury, to learn as much as I can about a decision regardless of my preliminary thoughts, BEFORE I make the decision. I have a track record of doing just that, and ensuring that both the voices of residents & businesses, and the voices of experts are given opportunity before I make a decision. I don’t pursue an agenda.
Woodbury enjoys a quiet personality. I hope to keep it that way by not aggressively pursuing agenda's and policies that lack the support and the beginnings from the residents themselves.
Campaign Issue: Infrastructure & Growth
Our community has seen consistent growth in both residential new building and commercial (both new and re-developed). If re-elected to our city council, I want to ensure we're keeping the residents informed about the growth and both the impact and state of our infrastructure.
As our community is just over 50 years old, we are now seeing the costs and impacts of aging assets and infrastructure, all while we continue to grow.
The task of managing and addressing these challenges in a tough economy, means that we need to ensure we continue to invest in strategies and policies that ensure we get every ounce of life out of our assets (Roads, vehicles, trails, and equipment like playgrounds, lawnmowers, etc). Repairing is certainly cheaper than replacement, but at some point that’s no longer true. Making sure that we take careful consideration in our capital improvement plan, and understanding the implications of decisions is an important aspect for your city council. I will continue to work hard for the community in asking those questions, and challenging ourselves to be stewards of our taxes.
I will look to ensure we do so in a sustainable and responsible manner to ensure Woodbury continues it's place among the top places to live and work.
Campaign Issue: Housing
If re-elected, I look forward to working with city administration to find ways to encourage growth of housing across all spectrums of a residents life-stage.
First thing for me is to ensure that we don’t price ourselves out of the community. The city is not the only taxing entity in Woodbury, in fact, the city portion of your tax bill represents only 25% of your taxes levied on your property. Ensuring that we do our part in keeping taxes and spending in check and don’t get out over our ski’s, is the first step in maintaining a livable community for all.
Second, I feel strongly that we lack the housing inventory in affordable entry-level options housing. We have a strong entry level employment community, but lack the work-force to support it. I want these employees and potential residents to have ample opportunities to live in our city, not just come here to work in it.
Next I believe we need to ensure we have a place as our community ages, for us to stay in our community with housing options including maintenance reduced as well as the varying options for assisted living and elder-care facilities. If re-elected, I look forward to working to provide opportunities for these types of development and working with the cities HRA to find programs and policies that further this direction.
Campaign Issue: Water
Water ! The existence of PFOS and PFAS and related chemicals in our water, one of the big challenges infront of this and future councils will be the management of a complex interwoven network of systems, processes and oversight of our water system. Ensuring safe and reliable drinking water has and will continue to be the challenge for our community, and I’m proud of the work staff has done, and the direction the council has pointed to ensure we provide equitable and safe water for the entire community. Lobbying and fighting for Woodbury’s share of the 3M settlement, and ensuring we don’t cut corners that will cost us down the road, are decisions being made now, and in the next term of this council. I will continue that fight, and will continuing lobbying to maintain this direction.