Address: 19118 Tyler Street NW Elk River MN 55330
Family: Husband: Dave; three adult children, all married, living in a 40 mile radius; 5 wonderful grandchildren, ages 13 to 21.
Education: Nursing diploma, Lutheran Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing, Minneapolis, MN; BAN Nursing, Excelsior College, Albany NY; M.Ed Adult Education/Parenting & Family Life Education, University of MN, Minneapolis, MN; J.D., Mitchell/Hamline College of Law, St. Paul, MN.
Previous experience in elected office: One term Elk River City Council (2013-2017); completing first term as Sherburne County Commissioner (2017-2021).
Previous civic and community involvement:
20 years as 4-H Leader/Project Leader; actively involved in church activities over 50 years, including confirmation instructor, bible class facilitator, Ladies Aide member, and Hospitality coordinator; 10 years on Sherburne/Benton County Community Health Services Advisory Board; volunteered 3 years at Blood Pressure Clinics prior to pandemic; and CAER volunteer for 3 years and currently Board Chair.
1. What do you hope to accomplish if elected to the Sherburne County Board?
Right now the priority is to focus on the pandemic, working to limit the spread of Covid-19 and help our economy survive. We are also looking carefully at our budget, knowing that it will be impacted by economic losses, to make it reasonable in this difficult time. I am also supportive of expanding mental health resources because of the stress caused by the virus. When life returns to normal, broader issues can be addressed, but for now, the lives of our citizens and the vitality of our economy are essential. I believe my background in public health/healthcare and business management will be helpful.
2. COVID-19 has changed the way people do business in Minnesota. What has the pandemic taught you about yourself and people? What will be the opportunities and challenges going forward for county commissioners?
The pandemic has emphasized to me that we need to work together to ensure that our families/friends, our neighbors, and people we haven’t met yet, who live and/or work in our county are safe. Until we have the majority of our communities vaccinated to protect everyone from the virus, we need to follow CDC guidelines to protect ourselves and those around us. This allows us to keep businesses open or allow to reopen. When the number of new cases per day is reduced to an acceptable level, we can all relax a bit. Until then, I want to encourage everyone to follow the guidance given to us. It is evolving because the medical knowledge of this virus is evolving. But if we keep our eye on the goal – to overcome this challenge – we will get there.
3. What can be done to help businesses and the economy recover from the pandemic? How about residents and nonprofits?
The CARES funding, which are federal dollars that the county has been given to disburse to businesses, non-profits, and individuals in need has been one effort that shows how committed our county commissioners and the county staff have been to serving our communities through this program to save businesses, non-profits, and our citizens during this time of crisis by getting these dollars in the hands of those who need them to go forward as soon as we can. Another help for businesses, non-profits, and residents is to follow CDC guidelines to keep everyone safe and businesses open. Education about pandemic protocols is essential. The public health department is currently working with schools regarding number of cases in county. Public Health will be instrumental in helping with testing and vaccinations, as they become available.
4. What previous decisions of the Sherburne County Board have you liked and disliked and why?
The previous County Board determined that there was a need to plan ahead for the growing needs in Sherburne County and built the current expanded county government center. They looked ahead and estimated the growth of the county and the needs that would create for more county services, and built a building that would be able to accommodate the growth in the county for many years to come. They also worked to keep the cost of building this expansion at a reasonable level, so that our tax levy actually has gone down during the last seven years. Great job!
5. Sherburne County commissioner meetings are now livestreamed for the public. What are your thoughts on that? What will you do to regularly connect with constituents and field their thoughts and concerns?
I looked forward to the day that county board meetings would be live-streamed. I had previously served on the Elk River City Council and had heard from many constituents about the benefit of being able to watch city council meetings either live or later when convenient. I believed the same opportunity was essential for community members to be able to access their county meetings to see the work that was done for them. But I think that not everyone is yet aware of this benefit, so I want to spread the word and encourage people to watch the meetings at times that are convenient for them and then call if questions arise. All commissioners have their contact information on the county website and are available to discuss matters with residents that they have questions about. My hope is that this will create a greater awareness of county functions and activities that support our citizens.
6. What should be done at the county level to attract and retain new employees as the workforce loses its most seasoned employees to retirement? Speak to the issues of salaries and benefits that are negotiated as well as workplace morale that can be impacted by many non-negotiable factors.
Sherburne County is already seen as a great place to work. The county is emphasizing work life balance strategies to attract new workers when openings occur. We have an Executive Committee focusing on being seen as Employer of Choice. The group focuses on health and wellness activities; health insurance benefits, and wages competitive with similar counties. Some projects that have been put in place include: health services that are available on site for staff/families to use that is convenient and cost effective, and a new cafeteria for staff that has healthy, affordable foods available at meal time. Human Resources are also working on additional training to support staff during this pandemic. This is seen as important for maintaining current staff.
7. What ideas do you have and/or current initiatives do you want to press on with to make county government more efficient and more effective?
The pandemic has required that many work processes be modified to protect both our staff and the people we serve. Some of these processes will be looked at to remain in place long-term because they have been beneficial in a number of ways, and are very cost-effective. I would recommend that committees in our government center review the processes that were changed; identify those that have been shown to be beneficial in one or more ways (efficiency, effectiveness, and economy) to identify which should be kept in place. Some of these include staff working from home; staff calling clients at home in addition to or in place of making home visits; and making appointments for getting driver’s licenses, or coming to the recorder’s office.
8. What should be the role of Sherburne County to spur economic development in its cities and townships? Does that look different in a post-COVID-19 era?
The county currently works in partnership with cities and townships to achieve economic development. This includes working on committees together, collaborating in communication with state or congressional officials to provide funding for needed projects, and sharing in various ways to make the projects go forward. At this point I don’t see a lot of changes in this process due to the pandemic, regarding partnerships to work together to achieve success. However because COVID-19 is creating more challenges to our business communities, the county will have more projects to work on in partnership with cities and townships that are supportive of our economic development needs across the county.
9. Many of the challenges facing the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners have a direct tie to decisions made in offices outside of the county, at the state capitol and in Washington D.C. What, if anything, should be done differently to help chart Sherburne County’s course?
Sherburne County currently works closely with our elected officials both in Congress and at the State Legislature. We do this directly, and also through committees with National Association of Counties (NaCo), Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), and the Minnesota Inter-county Association (MICA). County boards implement laws that are passed at either the congressional or state levels by providing the services or mandates that these laws require. Counties maintain close relationships with their elected officials so that officials understand how current laws are impacting the county and changes that, if made, would be helpful in achieving the goals that were intended by legislation. One area that is often needed for consideration is funding to implement the law. This is why it is so important for county boards to be non-partisan. The county board needs to be able to work effectively with whoever is elected for office at the State and Congressional level in order to serve our constituents - who are our priority.
10. Why should people elect you?
I would be honored to be re-elected. I have a wide variety of experience and expertise that I believe will continue to be an asset for the County. County services are broad and require commissioners to be able to make critical decisions that enhance quality of life; promote growth in businesses, large and small; and effectively manage the cost of doing all of this for the county. I have started new businesses and services. I have managed many health-related programs, both large and small. I have worked at the Minnesota Legislature as a lobbyist for a non-profit organization. And I have lived in this county most of my life and have a strong desire to give back in ways that benefit my fellow citizens. I believe these assets give me the skills needed for this position and I would love to be re-elected to serve all of you.
11. What has been your biggest accomplishment in public life?
I have two: I started the first Early Childhood Family Education program in ISD728; and helped start the first hospice program in this area that later became a Medicare-certified Hospice.
12. What would you like to be able to say about Sherburne County in five to 10 years that can’t be said now?
Sherburne County continues to be a great place to live and raise a family, or retire as a senior citizen:
·It has expanded affordable housing for seniors and young families;
·added more parks and trails,
·developed greater diversity of jobs that pay livable wages;
·enhanced it’s friendly, welcoming atmosphere;
·continued to grow the quality of our schools;
·achieved greater safety on our roads;
·maintained great medical resources; and
·established wider access to public transportation for family/individual needs.