As part of our Election 2022 coverage, the Laker Pioneer and Sun Patriot Newspapers reached out to candidates in contested races for local offices and asked them to respond to the same series of questions for each office. Below are the unedited responses from the candidates for Minnetrista Council - Heather Charles, Claudia Lacy, Peter Vickery and Jake Youngren.
Question 1: What prompted you seek election (or re-election) to office?
I have lived in Minnetrista for close to 30 years and I love this city. We have much to be thankful for and I want to support the people and the city that affords each of us such a high quality of life. I bring many business skills that can be of use to help maintain the livability of Minnetrista.
My family has had roots in this community for almost 60 years. I love Minnetrista and am grateful for the relationships I have developed over a lifetime. Now that my children are grown, I would like to dedicate more time to our city’s management. It’s time for me to use my business experience and ability to advocate for those disillusioned by the city’s lack of long-range planning, fiscal discipline, business ethics and transparency.
Seven years of experience on the planning commission has taught me that good governance is essential. That experience and my knowledge gained over more than 35 years in the financial services industry gives me a fiscally responsible long-term outlook that should benefit the city. My wife and I moved to Minnetrista 25 years ago because we were drawn to the natural beauty of the lakes and the rural setting. The city is very important to me.
After moving to Minnetrista I decided that I could help enhance how the community interacts with the city. I could help make communication, information exchange, and efficiency as seamless as possible, by supporting and expanding the current staff implementation of new technology that allows members of the community easy access to the information that they need.
Question 2: What is your long-term vision for the community?
Charles: I envision fiscally responsible and thoughtfully managed growth making quality of life issues first and foremost for all our citizens – children, adults, families, and seniors. Preserving the amazingly diverse environment we are blessed with – clean air, clean water, suburban, rural, and wild areas, the lakes, and safe, friendly communities are all equally important to considering growth in our small in population but geographically large and diverse community.
Lacy: Minnetrista is quickly becoming more urban. Most of us live here because we love wide open, green spaces. Although growth will provide the city with more tax revenue, it’s more important than ever that we adopt a slow, sustainable growth plan. A successful plan keeps all the attributes we love about our city and manages the inevitable growth that comes with living in an exceptional place. Our constituents must be kept informed on all proposed projects to ensure that it’s the residents, not the chosen few that determine the vision for the city.
Vickery: I believe it is important to balance thoughtful growth with preserving our rural character. This vison is written in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan that I, along with other citizen volunteers, crafted over a year long process. Our city is on the edge of the expanding metro area. The long-term plan calls for keeping rural areas rural for as long as possible and allowing carefully thought-out development in areas that are already developing. Commercial development along HWY 7 will support our neighborhoods. Saint Bonifacius already has commercial property along HWY 7.
Youngren: My long term vision is a Resilient Minnetrista. One that we can rely both on our Municipal Government and our neighbors. I want to help reach the community and help the residents feel like they are making the decisions, not just reacting to what happens. We should all be a part of where Minnetrista’s path leads.
Question 3: If elected, how would you handle balancing economic development with maintaining a sense of community?
Charles: Interestingly, we have had (for our small community) a significant growth in jobs with recent numbers around 1,000. Up from just a few hundred jobs a few years ago. With the growing trend of people able to work from home community support and gathering places like parks become even more important. Internet infrastructure becomes a necessary utility within our city to allow easy connectivity to work, friends, and neighbors. With our growth in families living in Minnetrista quality childcare and early education for children in or close to our city should be on our radar as well.
Lacy: Development is inevitable in a safe and desirable place like Minnetrista. Economic development here needs to be slow and sustainable. With growth comes more pressure on our infrastructure. Our residents need to be confident that our city officials act as fiduciaries and not beneficiaries regarding spending and decision making. Residents of Minnestrista already enjoy a wonderful sense of community...It’s when we feel deceived by real or perceived unethical business practices that causes division.
Vickery: Controlled economic development should benefit the community beyond simply contributing property tax revenue. A good example of this is the proposed building of a locally owned grocery store- Mackenthun’s in Woodland Cove which will include a much-needed coffee shop. The project is a great amenity and will serve as a gathering spot for the community.
Youngren: I would focus on long term sustainable development first and foremost. With an eye on not just what is happening today, but how we will pay for the maintenance in 20 years. More importantly I don’t think the question is about what houses or business spaces we should support/allow. The question is what type of community do we want. Once we have that certain vision, economic development can fit within that framework to build a better future for our children. Now is the time for Minnetrista to choose what it wants to be, I say we listen to the people and start forging our path.
Question 4: What do you believe is the best way to address aging infrastructure and the funding to replace/update that infrastructure?
Charles: Quality infrastructure building and management is the primary role of any city government along with safety. It is important to balance living within our financial means and still maintain strong, dependable infrastructure. I believe the city has worked hard on a solid long-term 2040 plan to maintain our roads, water and sewer, manage growth, and preserve our natural environment while showing that it can be adapted as needs and citizen input arise. Tax base and exploring state and federal support thru grants and low-cost loans should always be part of the financial consideration in all projects.
Lacy: There are a variety of ways to fund an aging infrastructure. Minnetrista residents must first trust the sources that advise the mayor, staff and councilmembers. In recent years the city has lost that trust for a myriad of reasons. A good steward of the taxpayer’s funds, does due diligence, research and looks for more than one solution to challenges. It’s easy to spend other people’s (tax revenue) money. Every constituent must benefit from the city’s choices, not just a chosen few. I have always spoken out on behalf of the citizens of my community, and I would ensure that every resident of Minnetrista feels heard, informed and confident that the best choice was made with their best interest in mind.
Vickery: Well maintained roads last longer. Inflation is driving up resurfacing and rebuilding costs. A responsible amount of bonding is necessary to meet the current needs. This spreads the expense over a number of years while being able to take advantage of lower costs today. Our water infrastructure is paid by new developers, connection fees, and monthly user fees. The city’s new water tower is complete. The city is considering rehabilitating two older wells. Longer term, the planned addition of two more wells and a water treatment plant will help secure the city’s municipal water supply.
Youngren: I would focus on building long term real estate and community value in new development. Increase home value to help bear the tax/levy burdens that are inevitable due to infrastructure maintenance. Focus on the existing implementation of better technology to address problem areas to better plan a holistic and segmented approach to upgrading aging infrastructure. If we have a plan and are less reactionary to the needs of the community we can more efficiently and effectively address problems before they become unbearable for some of our residents.
Question 5: What in your background/experience best qualifies you for office?
Charles: Retired as of 2 years ago I bring years of executive business management experience in budgeting, cost/benefit analysis, marketing & sales, consulting, collaboration, and bringing people together to achieve common goals. If you elect me, I promise to always put first citizen concerns and future community benefit into every decision.
Lacy: 20+ years’ consulting experience with three major Wall Street firms. Structured tax-efficient portfolios designed for risk tolerance. Helped Clients with their lifetime capital needs to ensure financial independence, cash flow and income to support lifestyle. Advised clients in philanthropic giving and dynastic planning. Worked with private wealth group clients on wealth preservation and accumulation. Eight years ago, after serving on several large nonprofit boards in Minneapolis, I founded The Langdon, Inc., a 501(c)(3) that has helped support 150+ charitable organizations, worthy causes and countless individuals in need of assistance and compassion.
Vickery: I am the lone candidate with experience in Minnetrista City government. In the seven years on the Planning Commission and serving on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan committee, I have balanced thoughtful growth with preserving the rural character of Minnetrista. During my career of over thirty-five years in financial services, my job has been to practice fiscal responsibility. I will use our tax dollars wisely. I have listened respectfully to each of you who have come before the Planning Commission and worked to balance the needs of the individual and the community. I am working hard to earn your vote.
Youngren: My Bachelor’s Degree Education was in Political Science and Domestic Economic Policy. I am well versed in dealing with a wide variety of different people in a professional capacity as a Local Business Owner. I was the recipient of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department 2020 Life Saver Award, an award that is bestowed upon individuals that have played a significant role in protecting or saving lives. I care deeply about the place we call home and I want to help protect it.