Ward 2 Elk River City Council: Matt Westgaard

Matt Westgaard

Matt Westgaard*

Age: 50

Address: 19417 Baldwin Circle NW

Family: Wife: Heather, and Daughters: Samantha and Andrea

Occupation: General manager of a Door & Millwork Distributor

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota

1. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

Most of my professional career and experience has been in business management positions where budgets, planning, capital spending, and staffing are primary responsibilities.  These skills along with being a good listener, decision maker and having a common sense approach are traits I bring to the team.

2. What are your top three priorities if you are elected?

First and foremost be a resource and advocate for the citizens of Elk River.  Secondly, bring a respectful common sense approach to our local government process and policies.  Followed with a balanced intentional growth  of residential, commercial and recreational opportunities.

3. What is your biggest accomplishment in public life?

One of the most satisfying moments was finding a solution for our aged Activity Center, Lions Park and Arena Facilities with a successful Active Elk River Referendum.

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 most important aspect of the Comp plan is to make sure it is consistent with the vision and goals of the communities growth initiatives.

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?

The most important factor to be considered with this proposal will be is it good for the overall downtown community, without jeopardizing the existing businesses, infrastructure and integrity.  Yes, I would be open to considering a public-private partnership.

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?

Set the example and be the leadership a community needs.

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?

It is an absolute necessity the City of Elk River collaborate with these other two entities.  All 3 of us are imposing a property tax on the same households and businesses and we would not be doing our job if we weren’t looking for every opportunity partner instead of operating autonomously.

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?

It is our obligation to follow through with the vision and plan we outlined for the citizens with the Active Elk River Plan including keeping things on budget, within specifications and on time.  With the new Facilities coming on line it would be prudent to get the existing Activity Center off of the General Budget and back to the private sector.

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 biggest opportunities are yet to be realized, but the biggest challenges will be the disruption for the period of time during construction and trying to maintain accessibility to our residents and business community.

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 had more than 25 years of private sector business budgeting where we have similar approaches to a balanced budget and will apply those same principles to our public sector.  Obviously there is a wide variety of opinion on this matter, but police, fire and public safety are things most deem necessary, leaving the more recreational services to be those areas we would look to.  However, those areas of the general fund are proportionately much smaller as a percent of the whole budget.

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