Address: 13467 212th Ave NW Elk River, MN 55330
Family: I live with the love of my life Annie, our kiddos Brooklyn (17) and Gavin (13) who attend Elk River High School and Salk Middle School, as well as our yellow lab Gravy.
Education: Go Huskies!
Previous experience in elected office: 4 years as Sherburne County Commissioner for District 3.
Previous civic and community involvement:
Elk River YMCA Board Member, Elk River Youth Football Board Member, Elk River Youth Baseball Board Member, Elks Fairway Foundation Board Member, Innocence Project of Minnesota Policy Committee, Downtown Elk River River’s Edge Business Association, Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce, Youth Baseball Coach, Youth Hockey Coach, Youth Football Coach, CAER, Food Shelf Volunteer, Elk River 4th of July Committee, Chairman of the Board - MAGIC Fund, Association of MN Counties Business and Partnership Development, Salk Middle School Science Fair Judge, Salk Middle School History Day Judge, Sherburne County Fair Board
Many more ... limited by word count!
1. What do you hope to accomplish if elected to the Sherburne County Board?
I will build on the framework and success of my first term. We’ve lowered the property tax rate four years straight. We’ve eliminated the rail levy. We’ve dramatically increased transparency and engagement through streaming video, interactive meetings, adoption of social media, and website upgrades to accommodate personalization and notifications. Private investment in our community has increased by roughly $50 million annually. We’ve built a substantial economic development project pipeline ($1 + billion), I will ensure those projects cross the finish line. I’ll continue driving technology adoption, increasing the quality of services for our taxpayers, while improving efficiency and lowering costs.
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?
This pandemic has taught us a great deal about our community. We’ve seen the best in people, and the worst in people. Above all, our biggest takeaway should be the amazing resiliency of our small businesses and the incredible pride our community has. As a Board, our challenges and opportunities are the same. We have an opportunity to rise above the partisan bickering and lead by example. Local government is a force that brings our community together, working collaboratively to minimize the impacts of COVID19 on our businesses and citizens. We are a community, in good times and bad.
3. What can be done to help businesses and the economy recover from the pandemic? How about residents and nonprofits?
Our county has led MN in speed and veracity of CARES business/nonprofit/resident relief funds. Our swift relief has improved the financial positions of local business and nonprofits. We’ve also leveraged CARES funds to launch Sherburne County Virtual Entrepreneur Lab, which allows Sherburne County businesses and non profits, to access professional coaching and consulting for their businesses, free of charge. There’s a long road ahead, no one knows what form of advocacy, relief, and support our businesses will need. Communication will be paramount. We need to ensure we remain nimble, focused and fundamentally sound in our decisions moving forward.
4. What previous decisions of the Sherburne County Board have you liked and disliked and why?
I’m incredibly proud of our Board’s commitment to remain non-partisan and focus on issues within the purview of county government. There’s been pressure from both major political parties to entangle our local governments in partisan politics and State or Federal issues. We’ve remained unified in our opposition to these influences, in order to continue our tradition, and duty, to serve the interests of Sherburne County citizens as a whole, regardless of political affiliation. Any decision I’ve disliked has been on record with a dissenting vote. I stand behind my votes and the decision making process used to arrive at them.
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?
Live streamed, video archived meetings were my initiative. I believe the best tool in local government is the collective intelligence of our citizens. Video meetings for other commissions/authorities/committees will launch soon, adding additional transparency.
I’ve made myself more available than any Sherburne County Commissioner in history. Phone, email and in person meetings are a given. However, I became the first Sherburne County Commissioner to regularly engage with citizens via text and social media through “Conversations with Sherburne County Commissioner Tim Dolan” group on Facebook, now over 1,200 members. I’ll continue to meet my constituents where they are.
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.
The best tool we have as a County, like any employer public or private, is our culture. Throughout my first term, our Board emphasized fostering a culture that makes Sherburne County an employer of choice. We encouraged collaboration and opened doors to strategy and policy decisions to all stakeholders within the Government Center increasing trust. Being fiscally responsible representatives of taxpayers, while acknowledging the talents and importance of top-notch employees, is difficult at times, yet vital. However, communicating the convergence of those priorities is our job as elected officials. Local government is a value proposition, not simply an expense.
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?
I will continue increasing public and private partnerships we’ve cultivated over the last four years. I will continue making smart investments in technology utilizing AI/ML as well as cloud based services to increase efficiency, lowering costs and increasing quality of services. I will continue leveraging new solutions, like our soon to be launched “Engaged Citizens Project” to increase transparency, engagement and accountability with tax payers. I will continue on our path towards regional and collaborative economic development strategies. I will continue working with our State lawmakers to unwind burdensome regulations and mandates that increase local government expenditures.
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?
Our role in economic development looks the same post COVID as pre-COVID. Economic development is my background, my position on this is strong. We should be a regional resource for cities and townships, providing tools, assets, influence and expertise that aren’t reasonably expected at the city and township level. Sherburne County can drive regional awareness, be a repository of appropriate data, and the umbrella agency ensuring collaboration happens between our smaller units of governments, insulating against hyper local decisions that have negative regional impact. I hope this role leads to federal EDA designation and access to associated infrastructure funds.
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?
We initiated the adoption of annual legislative priorities which we deliver to our state delegation each year before the legislative session. We deliver these priorities annually to our Congressman and Senators on Capitol Hill. We’ve taken an increased role in the legislative process, spending time at the Capitol testifying and lobbying statewide lawmakers on behalf of the County. I believe this role and the influence associated with it will continue to grow. I’ve always had the ability to pick-up the phone and connect directly to our State and Federal Legislators and their staff. Consistency over time will yield increasingly positive results.
10. Why should people elect you?
I’m a proven, non-partisan, transparent and engaged elected official. I have no agendas or loyalties beyond serving my constituents to the best of my ability. I sought this position to lend my knowledge, relationships and expertise to the community I call home. I’m not angling for higher office or attempting to further a specific party agenda. My sole purpose is serving the people who elected me to this office. I live here, built a business here, and my children attend school here. This is my home. Every decision I make is to improve the lives of my family and yours.
11. What has been your biggest accomplishment in public life?
My biggest accomplishment has been the increased awareness and understanding of county government within our community. My priority when taking office in 2016 was to better inform the public, allowing us to tap into our greatest resource, our people. I’ve blown the doors off county government, giving people full access to financial data, a front row seat to decision making, and a full suite of communication options to engage and be heard. Whether I’m re-elected or not, the standard I’ve set for transparency and communication will remain. I will always take pride in this initiative.
12. What would you like to be able to say about Sherburne County in five to 10 years that can’t be said now?
I would like to say the county has weathered this pandemic and associated executive orders, emerging stronger than before. I will point to a replicable model for coal based economy transitions across the country, boasting a fully diversified local economy lessening the tax burden on local citizens. Sherburne County will be a model of how nonpartisan local government can bring a community and its priorities together and serve its taxpayers despite our differences. I want to be able to say Sherburne County has adapted and grown, while maintaining the character and values that made us the wonderful community we’ve always been.