Why are you running for this position?
Serving as mayor these past four years has been an honor. I have learned the greatest asset within this community are its people, families, and businesspersons. I have come to know many listening to concerns and working to understand the desires each has for our city. Through this experience, the city council and staff collectively grew stronger working on difficult decisions and through staff transition. With the opportunity to build on the accomplishments of the past, and to continue to collaborate with so many across the city, county, and state, I seek re-election as Mayor, City of Prior Lake.
What are the top three issues you would face during your term?
COVID-19 has shown us that it is next to impossible to predict the priorities of the future. That said, I am confident that the issues of public safety (police, fire and first responders), managing growth (residential/commercial) and fiscal sustainability (taxation vs. debt) will predominate. Quickly commenting on each: Our police force is at full complement and an updated fire agreement is being finalized with our Credit River and Spring Lake Township partners. On Growth, the EDA and council have overseen accelerated growth in commercial development to favorably move the property-tax balance burden away from homeowners.
Have you been charged in the past year, or ever been convicted, of a misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?
What would you say is your most notable accomplishment as mayor thus far?
Accomplishments belong to the council. This council has two legacy accomplishments and several significant achievements. On the legacy, the council will forever be linked to collaborating on the completion of the 13/21 and main downtown corridor project and on the creation of a joint water treatment facility in partnership with the SMSC. As to a notable accomplishment as mayor, it may be successfully delivering on my role, as I see it, on the council… to listen for the differences in perspective, to facilitate a discussion on alternatives, to seek solutions and then navigating to a compromise where all parties achieve more.
What would you do differently in your second term?
Before addressing what would be different, there are two items that will remain unchanged: focus on creating value for taxpayers and continued city council agenda reviews. Although invisible to many, this council made a commitment to prepare for meetings by undertaking agenda reviews with city staff prior to meetings. These reviews elevated the understanding of issues as never before and enhanced the communication between council and city staff. Do differently? Finding new areas for creating value for taxpayers. Whether searching for efficiencies locally, or pushing for legislative change in St. Paul, the focus will be on taxpayer value.
Do you think the city has handled COVID-19 well? If so, why?
Why? The city acting quickly, decisively, and comprehensively. Prior Lake was the first city in Scott County to declare a state of emergency giving the city manager authority to unilaterally address our public safety and the safety of our city employees. During this state of emergency, several operational steps were undertaken to revise operational procedures to assure continuity of city services. And when the council saw that the immediate risk to the community had passed, we became the first city in Scott County to rescind the state of emergency and move forward to a new normal.
What initiatives have you taken to help local businesses affected by COVID and do you think they’re effective?
In the early days of COVID, I met with individual business owners. From that start, we brought like-businesses (restaurants and boutique owners) together to build a collective voice. From this beginning, we created access for our business owners to speak with the city council, our state legislators, the governor and to our congress representative. Were they effective? Although the business owners are in the best position to respond, I would say yes. The council passed resolutions, that went to the Governor’s desk, that then became catalyst for creating a positive change in dialogue leading to reopening main street businesses.
How will you strengthen relationships between residents and the city?
This council has undertaken several initiatives to strengthen relationships between residents and the city. From live and virtual townhalls, to an expanded social media presence, to responding to emails, to initiating a Candy Crawl through our downtown businesses, to pop-up feedback sessions on road projects, to our liaison connections in the many volunteer organizations and to the imminent launch of a new City of Prior Lake web page, this council strives to strengthen our relationship(s) with residents. What’s next? I will look for innovative ways to engage and invite new ideas as transparency and communication will see us through tomorrows challenges!