Ward 3 Elk River City Council: Josh Hassing

Josh Hassing

Josh Hassing

Age: 34

Address: 611 Irving Avenue Northwest

Family: Fiancee Nicole, step-son Zack, 12, and son Carter, 4.

Education: Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University (2013), Corrections Technician Certificate from Colorado Technical University (2009), Domestic Violence Intervention Certificate from Colorado Technical University (2010)

1. Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.

I earned my Master of Science in Criminal Justice in 2013. While working towards this degree, I completed several classes in leadership and ethical decision making, business management, and human resources. Along with this, I am the Director of Retail Operations and Regulatory Compliance for my employer. In this position, I am personally responsible for budgeting and maintaining hundreds of thousands of dollars of inventory, as well as ensuring that our company remains compliant at all government levels. I believe my education and my work history has prepared me to serve the people of Elk River successfully.

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

1. Elk River’s small businesses. These are the backbone of our community and our Support economy, and we should not allow big-box companies to be the only ones to survive.

2. Review our public safety. Many residents have mentioned reckless driving in their neighborhoods where there seems to be a lack of traffic control. I would like to work with ERPD to develop a plan to address these issues.

3.Improve communication between the city, county and school district, and work together to serve our community and put tax dollars back in the pockets of our residents.

3. What is your biggest accomplishment in public life?

I work for a company that manufactures and sells nicotine vape liquid. This industry is under constant scrutiny for underage use. As a representative of the industry, I have taken a very public stance on the news and on radio educating the public and speaking out against underage use. I have also met and spoken with several politicians at the state and federal level to introduce language for bills that I believe would not only help to prevent underage use, but would still allow adult users to continue to use these products while introducing safety measures within the industry.

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?

I believe the most important aspect, which will involve all parts of the comprehensive plan, will be maintaining the distinct identity of our city, and not allowing it to become simply “another metropolis.” Regarding economic growth, I would like to see the city focus on local businesses that will invest in the community instead of large, national corporations with no local ties. I would also like to see Elk River continue to focus on our residential communities and ensuring that our homes remain affordable and our neighborhoods remain safe.

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?

I believe a public-private partnership would be an excellent way to move forward with any development plans, as it shifts some of the financial responsibility to private enterprise. Also, since Modern Construction is a local business, this will contribute to the local economy by creating jobs. My concern would be the congested traffic that downtown already sees, along with the issue of parking. This concern grows with talks of high-density residential buildings coming in. Furthermore, I do not believe parking ramps are an answer, as I believe they would be a blight on the image of our city.

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?

Several years ago, in Florida, I went to an “International Night Out” event, where over 100 different countries were represented with art, food, drinks and music. It would be interesting to see the city work with private vendors to do the same thing within our community. I believe it could operate in a similar fashion to a county fair. Vendors could purchase permits to sell food and wares, which would offset the city’s cost of providing security and other expenses. This would allow people of different backgrounds to share their history with others.

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?

Sherburne County and Elk River schools have done great work together in the past, including the ongoing efforts of the Truancy Intervention Project and also the efforts taken regarding underaged use of vaping/tobacco products, alcohol, and drugs. There are also other great initiatives such as Safe Schools, a collaborative effort between the school district and various county and city agencies. I would like to continue with these and possibly expand on the educational aspects of them, as I believe they are extremely important to the welfare of our children.

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?

I believe the most responsible role I could take in the Active Elk River initiative would be a combination of leader and listener. It would be my responsibility to make hard decisions, but it would also be my responsibility to make sure I am listening to the residents of our city before making decisions. Regarding selling the activity center, I believe selling it as-is is a fiscally responsible decision, and the money collected from this sale can be introduced into the budget. I’m curious about the non-profit organizations who are interested in the building and would like to learn more.

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?

Perhaps the biggest opportunity that Elk River will see from converting Highway 169 into a freeway is the opportunity of improving our traffic flow situation. In theory, moving through the city either on the highway or on residential roads that cross the highway should become much easier, which is a current complaint of many residents. One challenge, however, is addressing how the off ramps will still affect local traffic after construction is complete. This issue, along with the surprise $1.2 million that the city needs to budget for, will be big challenges to address.

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?’

In my career I am involved with the budget for the retail operations of a multi-million-dollar company. After working in this position for over four years, I believe I am able to both plan a budget and ensure that it is able to be kept. When budgeting for the city, I would take a similar approach, where I would look at “need vs. want” with projects and develop short-term/ long-term goals to determine when and how to budget projects. Before reducing any city services, however, I would first look to delay or reprioritize other projects to create available funds.

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