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We asked the candidates to answer five questions (to see full text of questions Click Here) and to add any other comments they felt would help us to better understand how they would serve as Hennepin County District 5 Commissioner.
More info / Campaign Website
Reason for running: I have spent nearly my entire life in Hennepin County, and have been active in the community.
My involvement has revolved around being a voice for the people, not the status quo. Particularly in municipal government. Most recently as co-founder of Hands Off Our Cans - Bloomington.
As a seasoned watchdog, I know what it’s like to bump up against stubborn bureaucrats that believe they know what is best for you. I enjoy engaging people with other view points in meaningful conversation, then finding that common ground from which real progress and meaningful outcomes can be made.
I have, and continue to serve on several private boards where fiscal conservatism is a matter of survival, not just a buzz word.
Fiscal responsibility: The County budget has increased at an annualized rate of 8.45% over the last 4 years.
To learn more about the candidates and how they stand on some of the current issues facing the County, we asked the candidates to answer the questions below and to add any other comments they felt would help us to better understand how they would serve as County Commissioner:
- Briefly highlight why you feel you would be the best candidate for County Commissioner
- County government has grown at a rate consistently higher than the growth in the economy. What steps will you take to implement Fiscal Responsibility and reduce the rate of growth in the Hennepin County government?
- How do you plan to evaluate the county budget and identify programs that are not meeting their intended needs?
- The Met Council is pushing in a number of areas not related to water and sewage. Would you support limits on the power of the Metropolitan Council, particularly where it is really pushing for higher density housing in the south metro? Do you have any issues with its Thrive MSP 2040 Plan?
- What are the hard questions you're going to ask about funding further Light Rail in Hennepin County? Would you vote for an increase in the County sales tax to fund SW Light Rail?
The proposed France Avenue bike/pedestrian trail “reconstruction” along the 3.2 miles between Old Shakopee Road and 82nd Street in Bloomington is actually a million-dollar-per-mile new development along roughly the same route as a current mix of paths. The planning department is just starting work on an idea that will eventually be brought before the City Council for approval.
As displayed at a June 30 open house, the preliminary drawings of the proposed multi-modal trail showed it would have a 10 ft. wide paved (asphalt) portion , i.e., equal to a street lane, plus a 5 ft. wide grassy / plowed-snow buffer near the curb. The paved area would be more than twice as wide as the current cement or asphalt paths, and the grassy buffer 1-4 feet wider than it currently is in some sections, much narrower in others. With a large stretch of wetlands along the route, a section of boardwalk may be included in that Nine Mile Creek area.
Construction is expected to take one summer season, and would likely require closure of a lane of France Avenue at times.
Homeowners along France Ave would see fences removed during construction and the cost of replacing those fences further inside their property lines after construction may not be covered, depending on existing easement agreements.
Eligible Minnesotans may begin casting their absentee ballots now for the August 9, 2016 Primary Election. Any registered voter in Minnesota can vote absentee, no questions asked about your reason for wanting an absentee ballot.
You can request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you at mnvotes.org or at the Secretary of State website here
Or you can get one in-person at your local elections office. Find those offices here
Be sure you are registered to vote! Here is a link to the Secretary of State site where you can see whether you are already registered at your current address, and begin the registration process if needed. Click HERE
By 2018, each city in the 7-county Metro area is expected to complete what’s called a “Comprehensive Plan”, required by state law. These plans are fully revisited / revised every 10 years and the last round was completed in 2008. The unelected Met Council sets the framework and assumptions for these plans and specifies what categories of content and level of detail makes a plan “acceptable”. This time, the assignment is to look at the metro area needs across the next 20 – 25 years, out to 2040. Work has begun on the plans in 3 of the 4 cities in SD49 and citizen involvement will be needed this summer.
Estimated population and housing needs drive much of the planning. The Met Council has established specific city-by-city targets for growth, particularly in the areas of low-to-moderate-income housing growth by 2030.
Continue on to read about SD49 city planning assumptions and how you can get involved.
Bloomington is planning to replace and enhance the bike trail and sidewalk along France Avenue from Old Shakopee Road to 84th Street, within four years. The proposed design would be on the West side of France Avenue beside Cub, Jefferson High School, Normandale College, parkland, homes, apartments, Girard Park Condos and St. Stephen Lutheran Church.
The trail is listed as an agenda item for the City Council meeting Monday, June 27 (tonight!)
A one hour informational and comment-gathering meeting is set for Thursday, June 30, at 5 PM outdoors on the NW corner of Old Shakopee Road and France Ave (note the change - this is the city plaza near Penn Cycle). In case of weather, the meeting will be indoors at Jefferson High School in the Orchestra Room.
This seems to be precisely the type of project intended to be funded by the $90 / household annual Franchise Fees. But Bloomington may be seeking other funding, thus delaying the project start.
See the Bloomington website for more information.
On June 15, 2016, the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop election officials from permitting known ineligible felons and non-citizens to vote.
On June 21, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an expedited briefing schedule in which the Secretary of State has until July 15 to respond. MVA will then have ten days to reply.
MVA is forcing the State of Minnesota to explain to the Minnesota Supreme Court why it thinks it can violate the plain text of the Minnesota Constitution, election statutes, as well as specific court orders and permit individuals to vote who election officials know are ineligible.
Continue on to read our in-depth report on this important issue.
It was an evening of impressive art and impassioned politics. Max and Elsie Rymer chose the Griffin Art Gallery on the border of Edina and Bloomington to celebrate his run for the Minnesota House. The 65 attendees at the June 16 event were a mix of enthusiastic friends and Senate District 49 supporters.
Max, the endorsed Republican candidate for the House District 49B seat, outlined his positive experiences in meeting the residents of his district and laid out his plans for the next several months of the campaign. It was a classy call to action for a candidate that clearly has new ideas and new approaches for our district.
For more photos of the event, CLICK HERE to visit the “Max for House District 49B” Facebook page. While there, please "like" it.
The MN Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on the question: When is a “Fee” really a “Tax”? And also perhaps weigh-in on: What is a “fair” fee structure, when levied on a tax-exempt organization? The decision may have far-reaching impacts on municipal Franchise Fees as recently implemented in Bloomington, as well as the longer-standing ones in most MN cities including Edina, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka. And it is likely to trigger a need for legislative action as cities continue to seek ways to fund city services while attempting to avoid double-digit percentage property tax increases.
The Nonprofit Leadership Forum on June 6 at Hamline University was a multiple-viewpoint discussion of the issues raised by the court case. The case was initiated when one of St. Paul’s oldest churches, First Baptist, decided to question the city’s $16,000 annual “Street Right of Way” assessed fee which had increased over 5 years to become the 2nd largest line item on the church budget. The city uses those fees, charged to every property based on linear street footage, to pay for snow plowing and 10 other “essential” street & boulevard maintenance services. The size of the fee is especially startling when compared with the $5000 fee paid by the 25-story UBS tower in Town Square, and is also more than the fee paid by the State Capitol.
Over 60 people participated in a thought-provoking discussion of efforts to unionize child care and home care providers. Senator Michelle Benson (Republican, Asst Minority Leader), writer and commentator Kim Crockett, and Attorney Doug Seaton spoke knowledgeably of the push to bring these independent workers under the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) or Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This push has been supported by enabling legislation put forth by the Minnesota DFL and signed by Gov. Dayton.
This year’s “Spring Conversation” was held at the Edina Country Club, which provided a relaxed atmosphere for socializing and for a challenging dialogue.