Lisa A. Fobbe*
Address: 909 Fairway Drive, Princeton
Family: Partner, David Dancik; Sons: Angelo (Megan), Domenic (Jen) and Gino Fraboni; Three grandsons
Education: Bachelor of Social Work, College of St. Benedict; Policy Fellow, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
Previous experience in elected office: Minnesota Senate 2007-2010; Princeton School Board 2000-2007
Previous civic and community involvement:
Sherburne Wildlife Refuge, friend; Christ Our Light Catholic Church, member and volunteer; Princeton Pantry, board member; Central MN Mental Health Clinic, board member; Anoka-Ramsey Community College Foundation, board member; Kinship Youth Mentoring, board member; Organized local and international service opportunities.
1. What do you hope to accomplish if elected to the Sherburne County Board?
As a board member, I will work with the board to provide a solid framework, vision and policies that continue to create a viable infrastructure that supports households, business and non-profits. The vision would be based on the needs of the residents of the county. I would support the administrator, the department heads and the staff to implement the vision in an efficient, cost effective manner.
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 challenged me to work in a different way and has taught me that together, we can get through most anything. I don’t think that county government will ever look the same. I think this is a great time to evaluate what changes needed to be made to continue serving our public. After evaluating, identify what is working better and also where we have possibly saved money by being forced to work differently.
3. What can be done to help businesses and the economy recover from the pandemic? How about residents and nonprofits?
I appreciate the federal CARES Act (stimulus funds due to COVID-19) funding that has been provided to counties. Sherburne county has been pro-active in trying to get that funding out to residents, businesses and non-profits so they can continue to operate until our situation with the pandemic improves.
4. What previous decisions of the Sherburne County Board have you liked and disliked and why?
I appreciate the manner with which the current board makes decisions. We do not agree on everything but when we are divided on something, we leave the board table with a united front supporting our decision. As one individual, I realize my authority and power is limited. It is in working together as a body of 5 that we make decisions based on what’s best for the common good.
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 find great value that the meetings are now live-streamed. I support transparency in all that the board does and think this removes a barrier if someone wants to attend. I work hard to connect with constituents. My information is public and I often connect with Zimmerman and Princeton city council members as well as Baldwin and Livonia township supervisors. I think one of the most important things about being a commissioner is listening to the public to have a good sense of what’s important to the residents.
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, as an employer, has a great reputation in central Minnesota as well as the state. We attract many candidates for each job opening. This is due to the high level of morale in the workplace as well as competitive wages and benefits. I believe the board and administrator set the tone in this area. The staff needs to feel appreciated on all levels and I think we do a good job at that.
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?
While COVID-19 was an unfortunate way to learn how to do business differently, it forced us to. It is our duty now to determine which initiatives we need to continue both on an operational level as well as a transformational change level to serve our residents and possibly also save money. One small example would be having driver’s license appointments instead of just a waiting line. This change has served the staff and the public well.
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 has a role in partnering with our cities and townships to foster economic development and takes a lead role in this when appropriate. Communication is key and the county provided leadership as we together navigated COVID-19 and as we continue to recover. The county took a robust lead in economic support with the CAREs Act funding and provided assistance to each entity as requested upon approval.
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?
For the last 4 years, we have developed a legislative platform specific to Sherburne County. We meet with our legislators prior to the start of session and then we also visit them at the State Capitol and in Washington DC (when possible). Being able to help our state and federal legislators understand the local needs of the county is vital to our work and assists them in making their decisions on their respective levels of government. The relationship that we each have with our state and federal legislators is vital for the things we want to accomplish in the county.
10. Why should people elect you?
It’s kind of basic. I love Sherburne County! I make myself available, listen to the residents and I work well with others! No board member can get anything done in isolation by themselves. It takes cooperation and building relationships from the residents, township supervisors all the way to the Federal legislative level and then add a board that works together well and we are able to get things done. I have established long term relationships on all levels and those, along with a substantial work ethic of cooperation that serves the Sherburne residents well.
11. What has been your biggest accomplishment in public life?
Having sadly lost my two brothers to chemical dependency and mental health issues, any work that I have been able to do to remove the stigma that accompanies mental illness and chemical dependency in our community is what I consider my biggest accomplishment. Working toward parity in our health system structures or each time I have been able to connect an individual or family to services and resources is that which I am most proud.
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 will continue to be looked at as a great place to live, work and do business. It will demonstrate this through it’s economic growth, well managed transportation structure, improved public health measures and access in all parts of the county to high-speed, affordable internet. To meet these goals, we will need to leverage our local, state and federal partners and financial resources as we continue to be responsible stewards of the public’s trust. I have the experience and relationships necessary to achieve these priorities.