Mary McDevitt Kraljic
Address: 10159 201st Ave. NW
Family: 22-year-old twins Malie and Rafael and married for the past 25 years to husband Raphael McDevitt Kraljic
Education: Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Science and Specialist Certification in Education Administration
1. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications for this position on the Elk River City Council.
As a 30+ year resident of Elk River and educator, I have a strong commitment to making the world a better place. I have served the community as President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Fairview Health System Board and was elected for multiple terms as a school board member and Chair during the phase of rapid community growth during the period of 1990-2000. I know first-hand how important it is to get community input and to listen to that input when shaping the future.
2. What are your top three priorities if you are elected?
If elected, I would work to foster Elk River’s unique spirit of community by partnering with neighborhoods to manage development responsibly and encourage further civic participation to advance the health and livability of our communities. We can do this by reaching out to the Elk River community and engaging them in the decision-making process from the beginning. That means building strong neighborhoods, parks, roads, and public safety systems. I would also work hard to promote our local businesses and to attract new businesses and industry. In each of these priorities I commit to efficient use of our tax monies for the education of our youth and activities for our increasing aging population. This could include developing a format that would allow our elderly to share their life experiences with our youth.
3. What is your biggest accomplishment in public life?
School Board Member and Chair, American Legion Auxiliary President, Minnesota State Academies and Fairview Health Systems Corporate Board. I spent almost a decade working with community members to pass multiple bond referendums to build equitable schools in our various communities. I believe this provides me with the necessary experience and skills to work with community members in continuing the work of our city leaders and to develop a robust new achievable comprehensive plan.
4. Elk River is in the midst of updating its comprehensive plan. What will be the most important aspect of this process? What are your personal aspirations for the community of Elk River?
The City Council is an important governing group. Between 2000 and 2010 our city population grew by 40% according to our Comprehensive Plan. Given the increase in crime and unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul, I believe we need to be prepared for another wave of growth. It is important to be proactive not reactive. We, as a community, elect a core group of people who are hopefully representative of our community. Currently, there is only one female on the Council. It is my belief that men and women hear things differently and it takes both genders to balance each other. Since most households have multiple women, it seems logical to me that our city leaders be comprised of a more balanced group like our community demographics.
5. Talk of downtown redevelopment has been circulating for some time now between the Elk River City Council, the Elk River Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and city staff with the most recent development being a presentation by developer Jesse Hartung of Modern Construction. What is your position on the potential for a downtown redevelopment project? What factors will you consider in making a decision about whether to proceed with such a project? Would you support a public-private partnership?
Mr. Hartung is a resident of Elk River. He can coordinate well with property owners in downtown to come up with a comprehensive plan that will benefit the community.
6. The Elk River City Council recently heard a presentation by an Elk River resident on the topic of cultural tolerance and understanding. She proposed the city take steps to make Elk River a more welcoming city given that the community is becoming increasingly diverse. What role would you say the city should play in making Elk River a welcoming community?
Some, maybe many individuals do not find Elk River a welcoming community. My husband, who immigrated to the village as a child stated that his mother found many who welcomed her but generally felt the community never did. My husband says that he still hears too often a statement like – I have been here for thirty years and some still treat me as a newcomer.
7. How would you rate the level of collaboration and partnership with the Elk River Area School District and Sherburne County? What do you see as opportunities for increased collaboration between either of the two or both?
The level of collaboration among the City, Schools and County was good during my tenure with the school board. A tragedy in today’s world is the “sudden deaths” of our youth as reported in the obituaries. A very brave family, who lost their child this spring, stated in the obituary that their child had committed suicide. These deaths are either drug overdoses, accidental or not, or suicides. With the pandemic changing the routines of all, understandably affects those already traumatized, as we all were at that age, as we phased from childhood into adulthood.
We should increase our efforts to include our retirees Min the education of our children especially in reading and math. (I would like seniors to assist children in practical arts – gardening, carpentry, electrical but I am not certain if this can be done safely.)
8. With the passage of a local option sales tax, there is a wide array of improvements being made around Elk River. What do you see your role would be as a member of the Elk River City Council moving forward with the completion of the Active Elk River initiative? What should be done with the Elk River Activity Center that has been proposed to be sold?
Though many avenues should be explored including a sale into the private sector, with its proximity to the Handke School and other schools on School Street I feel that this building, if repair is feasible or the space if it is not, should be considered as an area that can be used by the city/school district as our growing student body requires.
9. Highway 169 will be converted to a freeway in Elk River. What do you see as the biggest opportunities this will usher in? What are the biggest challenges that will have to be addressed?
The 169 project will decrease the time required to move about the city and will be invaluable to individuals commuting from homes located west of 169. This will make a larger area of Elk River. This will increase the number of individuals who wish to move here both from out state and the “cities.” (An employee at Menards told us that the store has dramatically increased its sales and is now among the top 30 in the country.) The challenge will be to adjust to the increasing population and their various requests.
10. 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 worked with large budget when on the local school board, the Fairview Health System Board. The city budget is concerned with Health, education and welfare. I cannot think of any reductions presently in a growing community which may be in recovery from the virus for the next few years. My job is not to micromanage the budget but to hire professionals capable of making those decisions.