Donna Callender - Candidate for Edina City Council

Donna Callender, Candidate for Edina City Council, responded to our questions.

1.       Briefly highlight why you feel you would be the best candidate for City Council.

I am a process person.  I think that if you try to grow something in a dysfunctional process, you will end up with a dysfunctional result. To me, a properly functioning government system communicates openly with residents, embraces ethical behavior with an ethics code, and acts an agent of the residents, not as an agent for businesses.    I grew up mostly in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the home of Jefferson, Madison, George Mason, and George Washington, etc.  I value the country's Framers and their thoughts on American government, and I don't mind quoting them.  I do not allow bullies to stifle discussion, but I do try to work effectively with everyone, with the proviso that integrity is a respected value.  This is my first political campaign, but I learn quickly and the taxpayers are my first priority.

2.      City of Edina policies have promoted greater population density in the community, especially in the Southdale area.  This appears to be supportive of the Met Council's plan for greater availability of low-income housing.  Increasing population density is already putting pressure on class sizes and school system resources in Edina.  Do you support promoting greater housing density and greater availability of low-income housing in Edina? Where should it go within the city?  How would you deal with the impacts on Edina schools?

I constantly hear that we have to have monster houses because of density:  "The only way we have to go is UP."  That means to me that our density has reached unwanted levels already.  I am a fan of affordable housing, but I disagree with artificial window-dressing that puts a few units in a community to appear "sensitive."  So, no, I don't support more housing density.  I support intelligent development, housing or business, that retains what makes Edina, Edina.  I would try my best to avoid negative impacts on Edina schools by, always, ensuring that the schools have the resources to remain excellent and adaptable.

3.      Should Edina’s city government continue to grow at a pace greater than the cost of living?  How would you constrain the growth of the Edina city government? 

Our city council likes to buy new, shiny things like $500 gold scissors for ribbon cuttings, Nordic rides on the golf course, and fan-shaped streetlights with laundry buckets to hold the lights. .  They use these things to dazzle the residents, because they think people will fall for it. We dont, but they brazen it out anyway with politico nonsense about the common good.   Meanwhile, many of them have huge conflicts of interest that they conceal with nondisclosure, while they and their donors or employers cash in on the taxpayer's dime.  They use "growth" to disguise their behavior and "tax base" to fool us into thinking they're working for us. If we can remove the personal profit motive  from city governance via an ethics policy, that's the first step in getting a budget under control and living according to our means.

4.      Do you or any member of your immediate family work with or for companies doing business with Edina?  If yes, how will you avoid a potential conflict of interest?

We do not.  If we did and we volunteered to serve on Edina city groups, we would disclose the following:  "We are serving the city because we have expertise in some city issues and we want to help our neighbors.  We pledge that if our employer(s) are awarded any city contracts at all, we will immediately resign our City positions."  And then we would.

5.  Feel free to add any other comments that you feel would be of value in help us to better understand how you would serve on the city council .

I am a mature adult.  I have no problem making it clear how I stand on issues affecting the public.  I respect differing opinions and I don't mind making and admitting mistakes sometimes, because that is how we learn.  I believe in honesty, respect, and open dialog regarding public issues.  I enjoy other people and I feel that if we can laugh together, we can work together.  This is what the taxpayers need, and I commit myself to that.