Candidate profile | Paul Myhrom
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Rochester at this moment? If elected, what specific position(s) would you take to address the issue?
According to a recent survey of residents concerns, the biggest apprehension is growth and they are right. This growth will happen and we need to manage the growth intelligently while thinking long term like we did in 1994 when I served before. We planned the library and city hall to each take 2 additional floors as needs arise. The library currently has need, is important and should stay where it is. Further, we cannot be throwing money at infrastructure too early to the wrong area as we also keep in mind that we cannot outstrip our capacity to provide city services to areas that are indeed growing. I know. I dealt with growth as a business owner too. Study, calculating and planning are crucial.
Tell us one decision made by the city over the past two years that you disagree with. What would you like to see done differently?
I would have voted against the authorization of a second dose of Tax Increment Financing for the project at Miracle Mile Shopping Center. After getting an initial infusion of cash for the project, the developer then came back for a second helping claiming soil/ground problems and added expense. The council approved this. I never would have. The added cost would not have killed the project that was underway and any half-wit knows that when a project is planned, you build in a line of contingency into the budget — usually at 5-10 percent of the total cost. This is where the money should have come from.
The city is experiencing an economic boom. Still, many residents and business owners remain concerned about affordability. How would you work to ensure the city's growth is managed responsibly?
According to the recent survey, Rochester's biggest apprehension is DMC and subsequent growth with all of its benefits and pitfalls. An economic boon with more jobs, better paychecks, and a lot of trickle down for both related and unrelated businesses, but unless managed wisely we will have housing and labor shortages and city leaders and planners need to be watchful and diligent as we provide infrastructure, services, and public safety while holding costs down to the related growth. We cannot afford to just "build a city" and then hope. In the first place I do not care for that approach and 34 years of business experience encourages me to think and act more cautiously. Finally, we need to keep residents informed, engaged and comfortable with the plan.
Some cities have decided to take the lead on issues such as minimum wage and paid leave. Do you feel Rochester should be doing the same, or are these issues best left to the state and federal levels?
These are state and federal issues. The city has no business meddling with this. If employers in Rochester want to raise wages and offer benefits to competitively attract workers it is their business. This is what we as employers are already doing. Also, we do not want to add more bureaucracy to city government for enforcement.
The city council is responsible for oversight of the largest public-private partnership in Minnesota history. What criteria would you like to see applied to developers seeking public assistance?
Developers should have a good background and a reputation for quality work done on time while paying prevailing wage and finishing projects. In the last 3 years I have witnessed one developer build his project with flaws that needed correction. His project took over twice the estimated time to complete because he turned over his complete staff of construction workers including his project manager. He did not want to [offer] prevailing wage for skilled and committed tradesmen. A review of his history and reputation would have discovered his method of operation.
Destination Medical Center is focused on a relatively small chunk of the city. What initiatives or policies could be adopted to strengthen our neighborhoods outside the downtown?
First, our police already work very hard and are very busy. Crime in parks such as drug dealing and assaults are particularly concerning. If we could find any room in the budget for more police or anything to help the police I would be for it. I would also encourage more neighborhood watch groups and more assistance to neighborhood watch groups. I do not really like big brother watching but if more cameras in public areas are proven to help I would consider the option.
As you have been campaigning this summer, what have you been hearing from residents in your ward? Tell us how you would work to address at least one issue specifically affecting your ward.
One recurring theme is crime and crime in city parks. Residents are complaining that often times they are afraid to walk or bike on the bike trails alone or after dark. This goes for the rest of the park system as well. A lot of people in the First Ward would like to use Slatterly Park and Bear Creek Park but are afraid of the drug dealing, assaults, robberies and other crimes associated with these two areas. Many have also said they will not let their kids go there to play unescorted. Again, our police work very hard and are very busy. If we can help them we will be helping ourselves.
What else should voters know about you?
I am running for the 1st Ward again because I am very concerned that we get someone in there with conservative values and fiscal responsibility who understands the workings of local government, business, and the people of the 1st Ward.
- Born, raised in and a lifelong resident of Rochester
- Wife Sharon, son Roger (19)
- 62 years old
- Played on Longfellow and Pinewood Little League baseball teams
- Former Boy Scout, Troop 106 Longfellow
- Mayo High School Graduate
- Rochester Community College Graduate
- Owner of Honest Bike Shop (34 years)
- Air Force Veteran
- Member Disabled American Veterans
- 1st Ward Council Member 1993-1996
Primary elections are on Tuesday, August 14. You can use your address to view a sample ballot on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.