Running for Crystal City Council are, in Section 2, incumbent Olga Parsons and David Cummings; in Ward 1, David Seffren and Therese Kiser; and in Ward 2, Julia Hill and Brendan Banks.

Section II includes the north half of the city, Wards 1 and 2 are in the southern half the city.

Voters can report to their designated polling station any time between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6. To view polling location information, visit pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

Absentee voting is also open to eligible Minnesotans through Monday, Nov. 5. Voters can vote early by mail, in-person or from aboard or military service. Voters who wish to vote by mail can apply to have an absentee ballot mailed to them. They do not need to be registered to apply. The online application, along with information about submitting an application to county election offices, is available at sos.state.mn.us.

Brendan Banks

Address: 4100 Brunswick Ave. N.

Family: Wife; five children

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Louisiana Tech University

Occupation: Church Administration

Years in the district: one

Community/civic organizations involvement: Crystal PD MAC

Have you run for any other office in the past? No

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address in this election cycle?

The primary responsibility of the city council is to approve the budget, ordinances, keep city management accountable and to keep the city moving in a positive direction that is evolving and improving the overall quality for its residents.

What measures would you propose to further your goals for the city?

My primary goals would be keeping a responsible/common sense budget and the safety of our city. In our homes we must live within the limits of our income, the city must do the same. My background in law enforcement and community building makes me uniquely suited to help keep Crystal safe.

As a leader, what actions would you take to strengthen the sense of community in Crystal?

One of the strong points of Crystal is the sense of community. I believe the current city council has done a great job building bridges and getting people connected. However, there is always more to be done and continuing to reach all our residents. Throughout my life I have done this and look forward to being able to do it here in Crystal if elected.

David Cummings

Address: 5702 Zane Ave. N.

Family: Wife

Education: BAA Teaching Social Studies (University of Minnesota Duluth)

Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Years in the district: Seven

Community/civic organizations involvement: Early Career Fellowship Committee - Education Minnesota Osseo

Have you run for any other office in the past? No

Contact info: davidforcrystal.com

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address in this election cycle?

The Crystal City Council should ensure that taxes are stable and do not increase. The city needs to support multiple ways for people to get around the city and neighboring cities. This comes through light rail, walking and biking. Supporting the light rail that will go through Crystal is crucial as it will be another transportation option and will encourage development. We need to find ways to make the city safer to walk and bike. The city needs to do a better job to make sure that the needs of all of its residents are being met.

What measures would you propose to further your goals for the city?

When paying for major projects in the city, Crystal should return to using bonds, which allow them to pay for the project over time instead of using funds all at once. This lowers the chances the city will have to increase taxes. Related to taxes is how the city should not be raising taxes for road maintenance when they already had citizens assessed for building new roads in their neighborhoods (this is true in many neighborhoods in Section II which would have to pay a tax on top of their assessment). I will be a strong advocate for light rail, walking and biking in Crystal. I hope we can add safety measures for bikers and keep people who walk safer. I will represent all residents and I would like to see the council re-establish a human rights commission to help ensure that all citizens needs are being heard.

As a leader, what actions would you take to strengthen the sense of community in Crystal?

Crystal is an underrated place to live and I want to increase pride and knowledge about our great city. I feel as though people do not know enough about Crystal and that needs to change. I think Crystal Frolics is a wonderful event for our city and would like to highlight that as a way to build community pride. I would like to see more community programming that engages youth and gets people out of their houses and off their devices to meet their neighbors and community members.

Julia Hill

Address: 4342 Xenia Ave. N.

Family: three dogs

Education: UMN Twin Cities - B.A. in Linguistics, Minor in Sociology, NHCC - A.A.

Occupation: Data Analyst/ Customer Service Manager

Years in the district: 10

Community/civic organizations involvement: Volunteer: Secondhand Hounds, Hennepin County Citizen Pruner, Special Olympics, & Red Rover. Advisory Board Member: Ani-Meals TC (Meals on Wheels for Pets). I also created and manage the Facebook group for the Bassett Creek Dog Park.

Have you run for any other office in the past? No

Contact info: Julia4Crystal.com

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address in this election cycle?

First, maintaining the livability and affordability of our community. Secondly, ensuring that everyone in Crystal is represented equally and fairly in the decision-making process.

What measures would you propose to further your goals for the city?

First, responsibly updating and upgrading our public spaces, with an eye towards preservation of natural areas, while also limiting financial impact to individual residents.

Ensure stable taxes and water/sewer fees to maintain a strong tax base – so people can continue to live in their homes and reduce home turnover due to financial stress.

Maintain a good mixture of housing (single/multi-family, rent/own, older/newer homes, etc) to provide a diverse tax base more resistant to economic downturns.

Reserves on hand to offset any future economic downturns with minimal impact on individuals taxes.

Secondly, it is not enough to be reactive to the residents of Crystal. The council and commission need to be proactive and seek out information from residents as to what opportunities for improvement they see in our community.

Better communication with the public. Not everyone is able to attend meetings and not everyone has internet access or is on social media. Not everyone has the time or bandwidth necessary to follow city happenings in depth. We need to find more ways to connect our city with residents.

As a leader, what actions would you take to strengthen the sense of community in Crystal?

The best way to create bridges and to unite people is through common ideas and common goals. But right now, there is such a divide in our country and so much polarization. I think we need to find a way to get neighbors to talk. Face to face. It is much easier to find common ground when you are standing next to someone versus staring at a computer screen.

We need to create opportunities for people to make connections with one another, more than just Night To Unite once a year.

Therese Kiser

Address: 6901 Valley Place

Family: Husband, Randy; sons, Rory and Jackson

Education: B.A in Communication and Psychology – University of Iowa; Paralegal Certificate – Philadelphia Institute; A.A.S Graphic Design MCTC.

Occupation: Small business owner – paralegal consulting services.

Years in the district: 25

Community/civic organizations involvement: Current involvement: President – Crystal Historical Society; Board Member – New Hope YMCA. Past involvement: YES281 Committee – Steering Committee Co-Chair; Project Million Amigos – Board Member; Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy – Board Member and 5K Director

Have you run for any other office in the past? Ran for Crystal City Council Section 1 2016

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address in this election cycle?

Crystal has many unique businesses. We need to expand the business climate in the city by working with existing and potential business owners towards attracting and retaining businesses.

There is a greater need for transparency between the council, the city administration and residents. It benefits our residents for the council to be open and transparent.

Crystal is a safe community with low crime. We need to work toward keeping the crime rate low and increase communication. Coffee with a cop, the monthly listening-sessions is a great example of the increased effort.

What measures would you propose to further your goals for the city?

The Blue Line Extension with the proposed station near Becker Park is a perfect opportunity for development. I have looked at similar communities – Robbinsdale and Hopkins – for example. Both are on light rail expansion routes. Both have downtowns that have exploded in the recent past with new development – multi-family housing and restaurants. Let’s work to make Crystal a destination in its own right.

Citizens have expressed interest in bringing back the human rights commission. In the past, the commission helped establish lines of communication between residents and the city administration and police department. The commission also facilitated training among city employees and administration to better serve the residents.

As a leader, what actions would you take to strengthen the sense of community in Crystal?

Crystal has done a wonderful job in the recent past increasing the ways the city communicates with residents. The website has been revamped so that it is clearer and easier to navigate; the city uses Next Door and Facebook to get information to residents. This is a great beginning towards opening communication between the city and Crystal residents. I would like to see this continue and expand.

Crystal has also made a big push increasing wellness in the city. There are additional sidewalks and walking paths. Crystal offered free, weekly yoga classes in Bassett Creek Park. These activities are a great start. The Crystal Community Center is a wonderful space. I would like to see an increase of offerings to attract and engage more people.

People are happier when they’re connected to the community. I would promote ways to build on this. For example, several people told me a new paved walking path in the Yunger Park neighborhood was a welcome change, allowing their group to meet at the park. Getting people interacting with others and engaged in the community makes for great neighbors.

Olga Parsons

Address: 4951 Jersey Ave. N.

Family: Husband, Josh; three sons, Josiah, Judah, Emanuel

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Louisiana Tech University

Occupation: Stay at home Mom; BSN Nursing Student at Herzing University with an interest in community and maternal health

Years in the district: 13

Community/civic organizations involvement: Regular participant at various local fundraisers, particularly Crystal Crime Prevention Board, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, and Bowl/Run for Rocco. My family also volunteers at Feed My Starving Children.

Have you run for any other office in the past? Section II City Council 2014-present

Contact info: 612-217-2337

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address in this election cycle?

The city council should focus on responsible spending, efficient and transparent government, and protecting and strengthening our neighborhoods. We need to prioritize our spending to support essential services like public safety and infrastructure. We should encourage civic engagement, and foster an environment of respect and understanding.

What measures would you propose to further your goals for the city?

I will promote fiscal responsibility, and prioritize spending on essential services and infrastructure. I will continue to improve government efficiency and transparency and will work with our neighbors to cultivate a strong and healthy community. I will be a dedicated advocate for residents in Section 2.

As a leader, what actions would you take to strengthen the sense of community in Crystal?

Crystal has a strong and vibrant community. Our residents are gracious, helpful and generous. I will endeavor to promote an environment of respect and kindness and will support and appreciate the work of dedicated neighbors who cultivate social engagement and civic involvement. Residents will be invited to volunteer on commissions and participate in city events. Partnering together we can strengthen our community, and make Crystal a fun, beautiful, and strong city!

David Seffren

Address: 5919 Medicine Lake Road

Family: Wife Cheri; two sons, Michael and Max

Education: BS Business Administration, Drake University

Occupation: Dental Services Group - large national dental lab company; VP Information Technology

Years in the district: 29

Community/civic organizations involvement: Crystal Code Review Task Force 2016-17; Citizens Police Academy 2016

Have you run for any other office in the past? No

Contact info: SeffrenForCrystal.com

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address in this election cycle?

Responsible Spending – keep a watchful eye on spending, use debt financing cautiously, long-range planning to save for maintenance that will be necessary, ensure long-term project costs do not eclipse the long-term benefits.

Effective Government – government needs to be transparent and open to the citizenry, regulations should be meaningful and clear in their purpose and procedures, the city should be easy to work with.

Stronger Neighborhoods – Crystal should be a desirable place for people to locate. Ensuring a vibrant business economy, keeping taxes reasonable, maintaining beautiful parks, offering robust recreational programs, maintaining our street/sewer/water infrastructure, and keeping crime in check all serve to bolster property values and build strong neighborhoods.

What measures would you propose to further your goals for the city?

Responsible spending – Look at every spending proposal with a critical eye. Respect taxpayer dollars as I would my own. Look at long-term costs vs. benefits. Question the status quo to ensure all alternatives have been considered. Advocate for “rainy day” budgeting to build funds for future expenses.

Effective government – Continue recording all city meetings and work sessions and promptly post to the city website for public access. Work with city manager and staff to develop a more customer service friendly attitude and better hours. Ensure that regulations are clearly worded and easily understood by the average citizen. Be open and available to constituents through all means of communication (web, Facebook, phone, email, etc.) Regularly report to constituents on city news and developments.

Stronger neighborhoods – Work with planning commission and Crystal Business Association to ensure Crystal is a business-friendly community and to attract new and vibrant businesses such as a new micro-brew house. If light rail comes to Crystal, aggressively pursue business development near the station. Work with Crystal Crime Prevention board on educational programs around neighborhood watch and see-something-say-something initiatives. Ensure our parks are maintained and we offer vibrant rec programs for our residents.

As a leader, what actions would you take to strengthen the sense of community in Crystal?

Continue to support and advocate for the community organizations and events we already have: Crystal Crime Prevention Board, Crystal Fund for Community Progress, Light of Crystal, Night to Unite, Airport Open House, and Pizza/Movies/Music in the Parks. Crystal Frolics is a fantastic community event, which will only get better when it is hosted at the new and improved Becker Park in 2020. I will continue to do whatever I can to promote/volunteer/support these community/neighborhood building events.

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