Four candidates seek election to two seats on the Golden Valley City Council this fall: Andy Johnson, Joanie Clausen, Kimberly Sanberg, and Maurice Harris.

Clausen is an incumbent. The second seat up for election is currently held by Steven Schmidgall, who is seeking election for mayor. Council members are elected on an at-large basis.

Kimberly Sanberg

Address: 37 Western Terrace

Family: Wife, Elizabeth, and two kids, William (7) and Eleanor (5)

Education: B.A. in English from Austin College

Occupation: Small business owner

Years lived in city: 6

Community involvement: Golden Valley Open Space and Recreation Commissioner, founding committee member of the Golden Valley Pride Festival, key advocate for Brookview Backyard Indoor Play Area, 8th Precinct chair for DFL-Senate District 46, advisory board member at Sunshine Valley Childcare, parent of two children at Meadowbrook Elementary

Why are you seeking election to the Golden Valley City Council?

I love Golden Valley, which is why my wife and I chose to move here six years ago to raise our two kids. We have great schools, fantastic parks and welcoming neighbors. That doesn’t mean it can’t be even better for my growing kids and you and your kids, grandkids, neighbors and friends.

I have innovative ideas, proven experience and a vision for our community’s future. I’m active in local government and volunteer work as a commissioner on the Open Space and Recreation Commission, founding member of the Golden Valley Pride Festival, and a major community advocate for the Brookview Backyard indoor play area. As a small business owner, I also understand what our businesses need to thrive.

Choose two issues that the Golden Valley City Council should address. Why should the council focus on these issues?

1. We must have a forward-looking vision for our city. What does that look like? First-time home buyers will find affordable options. Renters will find attractive properties in all prices. Seniors can age in place. We will participate in recycling and composting. Our city will be known for its walkability and access to bike trails and public transit. All residents will feel welcome and included. Businesses of all sizes will put Golden Valley at the top of their lists.

I will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to make this vision a reality.

2. We need improved communication among our city leaders and with our residents. Have you ever emailed or called a city council member without getting a response, or learned about a change in your neighborhood after the fact? I have, and it’s frustrating.

Two-way communication is essential. We must focus on fully engaging residents in the decision-making process. We must explore all options to reach everyone and listen to resident feedback. That includes mail, signs, open houses, emails, texts. It also includes council members visiting neighborhoods to meet you, answer questions, and learn how we can serve you.

How effectively do you believe the Golden Valley City Council is currently operating? List any improvements that could be made, and how.

City council members must work together toward the common goal of making Golden Valley even better. We need people on council who look to the future, work collaboratively, bring innovative ideas to the table, advocate for all members of our community, and actively engage residents. I have extensive experience in non-profits and businesses leading cross-functional teams, generating new ideas, and bringing people together to achieve goals. I will bring this business experience to council.

Andy Johnson

Address: 8020 Golden Valley Road

Family: Wife, Gabrielle, and daughter, Mara

Education: B.S. Computer Science with honors at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and an MBA at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Carlson School of Management

Occupation: IT Software Manager

Years lived in city: 10

Community involvement: Two years on the Board of Zoning Appeals (including chair), five years on the Planning Commission (currently vice chair)

Why are you seeking election to the Golden Valley City Council?

I care about Golden Valley, believe in service to others, and will help lead the key decisions to preserve our great quality of life and adapt to our city’s changing needs.

I commit to service that is faithful, independent, and non-partisan.

My 10 years as a naval officer taught me the importance of discipline, integrity, and selflessness.

My 20 years building software taught me to gather input, identify the right solutions, then ensure they are implemented.

My seven years as a volunteer in city government taught me how to produce fair and consistent decisions that have improved the lives of our neighbors and businesses.

My service on the board of directors of a federal credit union reinforced the importance of serving customers, monitoring the effectiveness of policies, and exercising oversight of executive management.

My beliefs: Be positive. Be fair. Spend wisely. Listen. Behave with integrity and honesty. Treat everyone with respect.

Choose two issues that the Golden Valley City Council should address. Why should the council focus on these issues?

A long term infrastructure plan to fund the repair and maintenance of our sewer and water lines. Document condition, identify required funding, create plans and options.

Bike and pedestrian mobility. Transportation needs are changing, including requests for safer bike and pedestrian options. Develop communication strategies that target all interested stakeholders, establish a common understanding, then determine next steps.

How effectively do you believe the Golden Valley City Council is currently operating? List any improvements that could be made, and how.

There is always room for improvement, and healthy organizations adopt a “Start, Stop, Do More” approach.

Start: Better engage residents on critical topics. Consider or pilot more informative agendas and minutes with headlines, summaries, or taglines that get to the resident and get read. Advance the city’s communication portfolio to the next level.

Stop: Tax Increment Financing. It subsidizes development, decreases tax revenue, and can be ended by the city council. Tobacco ordinance (T-21). Flavored tobacco is more palatable to our youth and a gateway to lifelong use. However, this ordinance changes the implicit city/licensee contract and will result in lost business and tax revenue which most certainly will result in fewer jobs and less business investment here.

Do more: Engage with other cities and encourage resident activism to work directly with state legislators and minimize Fiscal Disparity impact which costs the city about $2.5 million each year.

Increase spot checks of underage tobacco sales. Put owners on notice that we have zero tolerance for it. Change tobacco product placement. With all stakeholders, identify solutions and create and implement plans that will save lives.

Encouraging developers to propose better plans without tax-increment financing.

Maurice Harris

Address: 2383 Unity Ave. N.

Family: Wife, Molly

Education: B.A. at Knox College and a Masters Public Affairs at University of Missouri-Columbia

Occupation: Research Manager

Years lived in city: 3

Community involvement: Commissioner and former chair of Human Rights Commission, member of Rising TIDES Task Force, Board Member at CASA Minnesota, Treasurer of HOBY Minnesota

Why are you seeking election to the Golden Valley City Council?

I’m seeking election to the Golden Valley City Council because Golden Valley is a wonderful city, but we’re beginning to fall behind in some key areas due to a lack of proactive, innovative leadership. My experience working with the Greater Minneapolis St. Paul Economic Development Partnership – as well as on the Human Rights Commission and Rising Tides Task Force here in Golden Valley – have given me the insight and skills to ensure that all our communities in Golden Valley will continue to thrive.

Choose two issues that the Golden Valley City Council should address. Why should the council focus on these issues?

Economic development is a key issue right now. We have a lot of commercial space sitting empty. Strategizing to attract the right businesses can expand our tax base, and bring some much-needed relief to residents who are facing high property taxes. Bringing in business partnerships is a pillar of economic development, and there are a lot of strategies we’re missing. A robust economic development plan will be crucial.

Another key issue is housing: Increasing property taxes and diminishing housing stock is making Golden Valley less affordable. We were once top-of-mind for people looking to buy a first home and set down roots – that is less true today.

There are a variety of creative approaches that can increase housing options as well as preserve a variety in our existing housing. Affordable housing is not just about big apartment complexes, far from it. There are innovative approaches that are very successful in other cities that we need to explore here.

How effectively do you believe the Golden Valley City Council is currently operating? List any improvements that could be made, and how.

We have very educated, caring people in Golden Valley, but very few go to council meetings or get involved with their city government, and I would say that’s an indicator of how the city council is functioning. There is a lack of accessibility, and I would say a lack of trust.

A 10-minute comment period at council meetings for public input is not enough. There are so many ways we can use technology to increase opportunity for input, as well as explain more clearly what is happening with the city. I will work hard to earn that trust. I’m out having conversations with Golden Valley residents every day – I will bring those conversations to the council, but I also want the conversation to continue. We should be governing in partnership, and ensuring that all perspectives and all voices are welcome and heard.

Joanie Clausen

Address: 2516 Lee Ave. N.

Family: Husband John; children Anne Marie, Lindsey and John; and six grandchildren

Occupation: Owner and president of Town Crier Promotions

Years lived in city: My parents moved to Golden Valley when I was a year old!

Community involvement: Two terms on the city council, past chair of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, liaison or member of various commissions, community and county groups, founding committee member of the Golden Valley Pride Festival

Why are you seeking election to the Golden Valley City Council?

I’m seeking re-election to the Golden Valley City Council because I love the community of Golden Valley. I care! I believe I provide a balance to the council with a common sense approach to decision making. I am dedicated to making our city a thriving community to live, work and play. I have the history, understanding and experience to lead this city forward. Serving Golden Valley has been an honor for the past eight years.

Choose two issues that the Golden Valley City Council should address. Why should the council focus on these issues?

1. Keeping our taxes reasonable through fiscal responsibility. Prioritizing our needs and wants in relationship to the cost to our citizens and city. Along the same line, continue to address our debt reduction program to ensure Golden Valley remains a viable community for years to come.

2. Making sure people have affordable housing. We must continue to maintain what we have, plus address 220 new affordable housing units recommended by the Met Council by 2030. Also, we want to ensure our seniors can remain in Golden Valley, while attracting young professionals and families to our community.

These issues are important to Golden Valley in order to ensure we remain a thriving, sustainable community well into the future.

How effectively do you believe the Golden Valley City Council is currently operating? List any improvements that could be made, and how.

I’m proud of the council and what we have accomplished. Yes, sometimes things go smoother than other times, but on a whole, we have accomplished a lot.

It’s easy to say we could have done this, or should not have done that, but making the decisions that effect people’s lives is not always easy. Good decision-making relies on diverse perspectives.

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