151439276764667.png

Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

featured

Candidate profile | Brittney Marschall

Candidate profile | Brittney Marschall

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?

Affordable housing is an issue in Rochester as it is in many communities. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in. Everyone is talking about it, and people are experiencing this challenge firsthand. I would like to see Rochester become a successful model for other communities by utilizing city council’s influence and actively seeking solutions and partnerships with stakeholders. As a city council member, I would champion a resolution that identifies specific tools to address and ease housing costs for residents at all income levels. If we work on this issue, we will see subsidiary benefits such as expansion in our labor force, community revitalization, economic growth, and important social impacts.

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?

A preliminary decision to split the functions of the now consolidated Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department is underway and I believe that if followed through with there is a strong chance that decision-making will be less collaborative, decrease efficiency of public services and ultimately will be costly to tax payers. It is estimated that the cost to split, create a new city department and staff it will total upwards of $2 million. It is in the best interest of the community to preserve a structure that will maximize economic returns for the future by eliminating competition between jurisdictions and enable the process of planning and development, not restrict it.

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?

Rochester is already a great place to live and work and we can sustain that achieving smart growth by adopting a strategic approach, planning for changes, integrating environmental thinking and insisting on opportunity for all. One way we can do this is by identifying and capitalizing on our competitive advantages.

Also, I think we need to start thinking in terms of regional growth, not just city growth. As we grow, we will need cooperation of surrounding municipalities and service providers so that there is collaboration over infrastructure investments.

Economic growth is important, but city council’s priority is the people in the community and we must not forget that.

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?

I understand how hard it is to support oneself, let alone a family, working a job that pays a minimum wage because I had one after moving to Rochester. 

We need to understand the impact of a municipal minimum wage policy and to do that, the city should spend time researching peer cities and topical studies on this issue before considering such a policy. Adopting one might result in spreading additional costs to employers and customers, create a continuing gap between the state’s current minimum wage and have significant ongoing economic stressors that have a real social and public cost.  

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?

Rochester has been relatively conservative using Tax Increment Financing to promote development. As we grow, we should consider utilizing this to promote development and redevelopment projects. Criteria we should consider include the following:

1) Accommodate, to the extent practicable, public or private transit and at a minimum, dedicate necessary rights of way for future transit if not currently available.

2) Where feasible, accommodate mixed-uses and affordable housing

3) Include increases in density

This is an issue I would be interested in hearing from the community. It is a complex topic that requires more community awareness and education.

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?

We should expand our efforts to revitalize the city’s established neighborhoods outside of downtown by supporting policies that help property owners make improvements, maintaining and upgrading public facilities, and continuing to address crime.

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.

Amongst affordable housing and taxes, I am hearing a lot of concern about how transit will be addressed and a desire for residents/businesses, particularly along North Broadway, to be “heard” when decisions are made that impact them.

Relationships are important to me. As a city council member, I would represent citizen interests in every decision made, but I cannot do that effectively unless we talk. I intend to communicate openly and frequently, and to continually observe the expectations taxpayers have of me.

As for transit we need active implementation of already planned solutions. This will take collaboration and partnerships with public and private sector organizations.

What else should voters know about you?

I am running for city council because I think Rochester is an amazing city. I want it to stay that way — and improve.

My first “real” job was being a Marine. I am a stronger leader because of my military experience. I work for Olmsted County and my local government experience has taught me how to weigh options and make tough decisions respectfully.

Rochester has given my family so much and grounded my life in many aspects and I want to contribute my skills and talents to creating a sustainable, supportive community for all to succeed.

I believe that the city council’s ability to make decisions that reflects the entire community will be strengthened by having representation that reflects the generation of young professionals who are choosing Rochester for their careers and families and I am reflective of that.

I am committed to being available to residents of Ward 5 and community to address opportunities and challenges. Together, we can help shape Rochester for generations to come.

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.

Candidate profile | Judy Hickey

Candidate profile | Judy Hickey

Candidate profile | Shaun C Palmer

Candidate profile | Shaun C Palmer