Residents of Maple Grove will be voting Tuesday, Nov. 3, to fill two positions on the Maple Grove City Council. All seats are four-year terms.

Candidates appearing on the ballot for two council seats are incumbent Kristy Barnett, incumbent Judy Hanson, Hawanya Hopson, Kristy Janigo, Corinna Jayasuriya, and Shirlynn LaChapelle.

The candidates were asked to include their thoughts in statements. Each were asked to include a short biography of themselves and their backgrounds as well as their personal and professional experiences. They were also asked to comment on two questions that were asked. (See questions belows in each statement).

The responses received include:

Kristy Barnett

Biographical information:

Address: 171279 Weaver Lake Drive, Maple Grove

Education: Master Healthcare Administration, University of Minnesota

Occupation: City Councilmember, Self Employed Consultant

Community involvement: City Council member since 2016, member of the Maple Grove Lions (recently elected to the Board of Directors), member of the Junior League of Minneapolis, former Weaver Lake Conservation Association Board Member, and former Debate Coach at Park Center High School- a District 279 School.

Contact information: kristyforcouncil,com

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

I believe the council has done an excellent job with the budget over the four years I have served on the city council. The directors start planning the following year’s budget in May, and the council gets involved in August with final approval happening during the budget hearing in December. The last thing we want to do is increase taxes, so we look for ways to be efficient but still provide the quality services the residents expect.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

My plans for our taxes is to continue to keep them as low as possible while still operating and growing the city to the standards we have set, and the residents expect. We have had minimal Increases over the last four years, and my goal is to continue to keep them to the necessary minimum.

Judy Hanson

Biographical information:

Address: 12263 88th Pl. Maple Grove, MN 55369 (30-year resident)

Education:  Juris Doctorate

Community Involvement:  Current City Councilmember, Council liaison- Maple Grove Arbor Committee, former- Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Comprehensive Planning Committee and Wetland’s Task Force, Maple Grove Magazine Board, Maple Grove Citizen’s Police Academy, OMGAA Special Olympics Coach, girl-scout leader, Sunday school teacher and 5-time Polar Plunger, and soccer mom.

Contact Information:

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

The Council’s primary job is to annually evaluate the city’s budget to provide the best services to residents and at the same time keep taxes within reasonable and affordable amounts. During this health crisis, the city will to continue to monitor and adjust its budget accordingly.

The city’s biggest expense is personnel. There were several retirements over the past year which provided the city the opportunity to reduce the size of the organization. In response to COVID-19, some employees were furloughed or laid-off and hiring was deferred. The city must continue to be fiscally responsible by evaluating its personnel needs, considering pausing non-essential services, delaying certain capital improvements projects and equipment, and continuing to support our local businesses and create job growth.  

The city also needs to account for the costs of tree removal in city right-of-way as a result of Emerald Ash Borer, by researching potential funding options.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

Each year the council must determine the city’s tax levy by evaluating and balancing our anticipated expenditures and revenue sources. The city’s taxes represent approximately 25% of the total property tax bill. The remaining taxing jurisdictions are Hennepin County, the school district and other special tax districts. Maple Grove’s 2021 general fund budget is stable because of the revenue generated from increases in building and fire permits and licenses.

However, because of COVID-19, the Community Center and Parks and Recreation was impacted by cancellations of their programming resulting in a loss of revenue for the city.  

The proposed 2021 tax levy will be finalized by the Council in December. My plan, is to keep city taxes reasonable, proportionate and affordable while continuing to provide residents with the services they expect.

Hawanya Hopson

Biographical information:

Address: 12597 84th Pl N

Education: Bachelor of Science, Applied Economics (3 classes away from obtaining my degree)

Occupation: Consultant at Willis Towers Watson

Community involvement: Parks and recreation board volunteer

Contact information: 612-242-1151

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

Because of the current state of our nation, we need to be creative in how we finance our city by working with legislature to allocate more state and local funds to come back to the city to ensure no long-term impact on the city budget. We need to take the appropriate steps to ensure the city continues to grow while keeping taxes down in our town.  

I would also like to ensure that the property tax levy, a significant stream of revenue for the city, remains constant, considering the amount of population growth occurring in our city. We want to ensure this levy can be established appropriately and look to keep as much money as possible in the pockets of our homeowners while continuing to keep our city safe and prosperous.  

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

With most of the city revenue coming from property taxes (almost 85%), the residents of Maple Grove would like to ensure that a larger percentage of those funds are allocated to the city.  

Additionally, I would like to reallocate more funds to the city infrastructure and put a cap on spending and maintain more fiscal responsibility to ensure continued public safety while maintaining property value in the city.

Kristy Janigo

Biographical information:

Address: 13842 84th Place N, Maple Grove, MN 55369

Education: Ph.D.

Occupation: Product Designer

Community involvement: Maple Grove Arbor Committee (2017-2018), graduate of Maple Grove Citizens Police Academy (2017), member and volunteer at Maple Grove Lutheran Church

Contact information:

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

In the coming years, we will be dealing with economic effects of COVID-19. Our city’s annual budget is over $40 million, but any savings could provide immediate benefits to residents and business owners. If we need to delay to a later year any previously approved city projects, we should consider it to meet the needs of these unique times. Small business loan programs from federal, state, and county funds have been instrumental in helping our entrepreneurs make it through the pandemic, and I want to seek ways to keep our existing businesses solvent. The city should streamline its daily operations and drive efficiencies to save money. Our city will make money by continuing with community and economic development efforts, which not only create job opportunities for residents but also add to our city’s revenues through license and permit fees.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

We should seek partnerships with developers and businesses in generating revenues from economic development. Into the future, I would like to see an investment to expand our intracity public transportation with bus stops connecting business and residential hubs within our city. I want us to continue to integrate parks and green spaces in our new developments as outlined in the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan. I want to encourage developers to build homes that are an accessible price point for young families and seniors, using financial incentives if needed.

Shirlynn LaChapelle

Biographical information:

Address: 9654 Harbor Lane

Education: MSN / PMHNP 20’

Occupation: Nurse Practitioner, Realtor, Healthcare Consultant

Community involvement: Multicultural Gender Fair Committee ISD 279, Atty General’s Drug Pricing Taskforce, MDH Healthy People 2030 Workgroup.

Contact information:

Questions for city council candidates

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the city’s budget?

I’d like to see funds allocated to improve police and community relations through additional training in inherent bias and de-escalation techniques. Increasing the number of participants in the Citizen’s Academy and actively recruit young people of color.

Adding social workers as part of the policing team to support calls that are due to mental health issues to protect the lives of citizens and officers.

Hiring more police officers and persons of color to make the force and other city offices more representative of Maple Grove’s diverse population.

Hiring a Diversity and Inclusion specialist to ensure Maple Grove is aligned with other municipalities working to become more welcoming and inclusive to all residents.

Add more affordable housing and cohousing developments as options. Cohousing will improve the lives of seniors and single parents and their children by providing a supportive housing arrangement that has worked well in other cities. I feel Maple Grove can be a model of supportive housing designs and affordable housing that will positively impact improve the lives of its residents.

2. What are you plans for the city taxes for residents?

Providing income-based family rates or grants for families to Maple Grove’s Community Center. We understand that having safe and healthy activities does more than provide fun, it helps provide young people enjoyable activities to fill idle time.

Issues the $5,040,489 CARES money can help address:

• To provide additional rental assistance to renters and building owners to help to defray some of their financial losses.

• Increase our Metro Mobility service which has been important to residents during this crisis

• Develop an equitable plan to accurately determine financial need and provide grants to small business owners to offset some of their financial losses to keep businesses viable.

I feel that making these budgetary changes will make Maple Grove a better place for everyone to thrive, because we are stronger together.

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