Address: 18565 Simonet Dr. NW, Elk River, Minnesota 55330
Family: Tara (Wife). Son: Brayden (15 years old), Daughter: Preslee (10 years old), Son: Gannon (9 years old), Daughter: Vayda (7 years old), Son: Garrett Jr. (4 years old)
Education: Some college
1. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.
For my entire professional career, I have held various leadership positions both in and around the Twin Cities and through special assignments around the country. I have always considered myself a visionary, always working towards the future in planning and execution. As a professional in operations management, I understand and have demonstrated the ability to proactively plan while remaining financially disciplined.
2. What are your top three priorities if you are elected?
•Lower the city tax rate. I have worked hard over the duration of my first term (as well as my counterparts) in finding innovative ways to save money while maintaining the level of services our residents expect out of their town.
•Grow and support our local economy: a dollar spent at local businesses stays local. We as a city have an opportunity to improve the process/experience for potential new business owners who are looking to set up shop here in Elk River.
•Increase community engagement in local government processes. Every conversation I have had throughout my first term ends with an invite to a City Council meeting. The more people we can get involved, the better our community will be. My job is to serve you.
3. What is your biggest accomplishment in public life?
Winning my first ever election in 2018 by 2 votes. It was a great experience. I am thankful that the residents of Elk River Ward 1 gave me the opportunity to serve them.
4. What prompted you to run for Elk River City Council?
I wanted to get involved in the community and understand how local government works. It truly has a large impact on our day to day lives. I am looking forward to continuing my work serving the residents of Elk River over the next 4 years if given the opportunity.
5. What decision of the Elk River City Council have you liked most and why?
There are many positive things I have experienced over the last 4 years but the decision I liked the most was Elk Riverfest. It is a great way for the community to come together and enjoy what this town and its people have to offer.
6. What decision of the Elk River City Council have you liked least and why?
The first couple of months into my first term, I was faced with the controversial topic of ResCare. Although I do agree we need facilities like ResCare, I did not and still do not agree with the Council’s decision on the location of this facility. It was not appropriate nor safe to put it right in a residential neighborhood.
7. What experience do you have working with large budgets? What would be your approach to budgeting for the city? What city services would you consider reducing to balance a budget or cover new expenditures deemed necessary or important?
I have been a part of Elk River’s budget process for 4 years now. My approach is and always has been fiscally conservative with a close ear to what our residents expect out of our town from a city services standpoint. Almost half of our yearly budget is in public safety and that is important to us all. Growing the government is not my priority and I typically take that approach when faced with adding new city staff positions in which we elected to not approve any this year. We need to be careful on how we spend our tax dollars.
8. Finishing touches have been made this year to a host of Active Elk River projects made possible by voters’ approval of a local option sale tax. How are you feeling about the improvements and how well the community has embraced them?
We have had a few hiccups in timelines of completion on some of our projects. The feedback I have received from the community regarding a wide variety of amenities has been positive. However, I look forward to the day when these projects are paid in full so we can end the local option sales tax.
9. What challenges do you foresee with the management of the Furniture and Things Community Event Center and other new facilities and amenities going forward?
We have definitely experienced challenges in the new facility and I expect that we will learn from these challenges to continue to improve the overall experience of our facility. We need to take a simple approach in managing this facility with emphasis on customer service to all of our organizations and users. As the facility develops into what it can be, we need to roll with those changes as they come.
10. Elk River has worked hard to create a more active Elk River. How important will it be to continue to sound that drum? Are there other areas you would like to see the city play a more active role in?
Getting outside, being active, and providing those options to our community is beneficial to everyone at all ages. The feedback has been positive and I think we have more to offer than other communities.
11. The conversion of Highway 169 into a freeway in Elk River has begun. What do you see as the biggest opportunities this will usher in? What are the biggest challenges that will have to be addressed?
The biggest opportunity that the Highway 169 Redefine Project will usher in is growth in the northern part of our town. With the ease of access through town, I can see an increase in demand for residential, light industrial/tech/manufacturing, and retail.
The biggest challenge will be businesses along this corridor. As a council, along with the Chamber of Commerce, we have been proactive in building those relationships with businesses and being another resource to help during these construction pains.
12. Elk River has grown considerably over the years, and many would argue it has maintained a small town feel in many ways. How can Elk River hang onto its small town feel as it grows in population, the number of amenities and diversity? What role should the city play in ensuring Elk River is a welcoming community, and one that maintains its small town feel people like?
From my experiences, Elk River has been a welcoming community. I have met so many people while campaigning this summer and fall that have shared their stories about fleeing the cities they came from to escape from crime in search of a town that is quiet and welcoming. They chose to come here and be a part of this community!
13. The Elk River Housing and Redevelopment Authority in the early 2000s led the charge in getting Granite Shores and Jackson Place built in downtown Elk River. During the pandemic, a redevelopment project was proposed by Jesse Hartung, the owner of Modern Construction and Tipsy Chicken, to construct a mixed-use commercial and housing development for downtown Elk River that came with a long list of amenities surrounding a three-story parking ramp that looked to include two stories of underground parking. The project proposal didn’t go anywhere. How would you assess where downtown is currently, and what redevelopment would you be willing to consider or support?
Historic Downtown is what gives Elk River that small town feel. I don’t think the city should be subsidizing new developments and putting that burden on taxpayers. If a landowner downtown wants to build something, they should be free to do so but not at the city’s expense.
14. What would you like to be able to say about Elk River 5-10 years from now that cannot be said now?
In 5 to 10 years, I hope residents and business owners think differently about their customer service experience. “Tearing down the 4th wall at city hall” is something I have been advocating for and will continue if elected to a second term. It is great to be an Elk.