As I mentioned back at the end of August, I will be posting the interviews I did with the two running for Apple Valley mayor this year. As promised in the comment section of the post linked above I am putting these up in the order they were received and Mayor Mary was the first to provide me with her answers.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Mayor Mary’s responses so read through what she has provided and comment on below!
LL: What are your top priorities for Apple Valley city government?
Increasing head of household jobs
Promoting economic development
Maintaining the Aaa Bond Rating
Keeping taxes as reasonable as possible
LL: What traits do you believe make for a good councilmember?
A good council member is a pragmatic decision maker who uses common sense. Along with those qualities they must be able to learn rapidly because they will have a steep learning curve.
LL: 3. Do you feel that Apple Valley does enough to involve the citizenry in its decision making processes?
LL: What are some of the ways you solicit citizen input for government action? What are some other ways you think Apple Valley should go about doing this in the future?
Our City has a website that is being upgraded this year and will have more features to make it more user friendly. We encourage our newspaper to include stories about issues that are current and will send press releases to make them aware of public meetings. The city has a quarterly newsletter to inform citizens about current events upcoming programs.
We encourage our citizens to give us input through surveys, e-mails, phone conversations, meetings in person, public hearings and public meetings as well as actively seeking members to serve on our committees and commissions.
Our Citizens Committees and Commissions include:
The Economic Development Authority
The Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, (which began in my first year of office)
The Planning Commission,
The Planning Commission,
The Urban Affairs Committee,
The Cemetery Commission
Gardenview Drive Ad Hoc Committee
LL: Given the economy’s effect on State funding for municipalities, what is your vision to secure Apple Valley’s economic standing long-term?
The City of Apple Valley has lost HACA, LGA and MVHC. Rather than becoming reliant on these funding tools from the state, the city has chosen to create a stable, secure financial operation that has earned us a Aaa Bond Rating. This is the highest credit rating achievable. There are 854 cities in Minnesota and only seventeen cities with this elite credit rating. Moody’s Investor Service stated that they “expect the city’s well managed financial operations to continue, given a history of structural budget balance” and noted that appropriate reserves were “maintained in light of limited state aid.” They also indicated they expect the “debt position to remain manageable” and noted positive key financial statistics such as: “a limited existing debt burden,” “debt burden below average for similar rated cities.” and the strength of the local economy.
LL: Do you have any innovative suggestions for economic sustainability?
The City of Apple Valley continues to be innovative through collaboration with other government entities. One example has been the creation of the High Performance Partnership (I was one of the original co-chairs). This collaboration created the Dakota Communications Center.
The city of Apple Valley’s planning and economic development department has an excellent reputation for being easy to work with developers and business that wish to come into the city or to reinvest and expand in the city.
Apple Valley was highlighted in a National Publication “City and County Magazine”, with a feature article on “Sustainonomics.” The article referenced the forward movement the city is making in creating energy efficient strategies that improve the bottom line.
Apple Valley was named as one of the twentieth best cities to live in America in 2010, by Money Magazine. The city has steadily moved up the list from 28th, to 24th, to 20th. The national attention gets the attention of developers and businesses, and is positive for our existing business in the city.
LL: What is Apple Valley’s biggest asset?
LL: What do you think about Apple Valley’s relationship with the business community?
Our relationship with the Chamber of Commerce/ business community is second to none. Give our President Edward Kearney a call and ask him how great it is!
Reader submitted questions:
LL: What should the City do in the Founders Circle area to encourage development – assuming that development here is a good thing – and what type of development should occur here? Should a new plan be developed entirely?
Development in the Central Village is a good thing. The plan was developed in a robust economy. Responding to the needs of the market place has been one of the tenants of our strategic plan, the 2030 Comprehensive plan. The plan is a good foundation and the city is poised to adjust to the market as it begins to recover. Clearly the economy is a challenge but the city has a great reputation for working with business development and is actively positioning for development as the economy improves. As a matter of fact, the city met with the bank that owns the land around Kelley Park today to begin positive movement in this direction.
LL: What are your thoughts on CDA (i.e. subsidized) housing and the Metropolitan Council’s guidelines that suburbs such as Apple Valley need more low-cost and senior housing?
Apple Valley has always had a balanced approach to housing. The 2030 Comprehensive Plan continues to support this balance of housing types. There is simply a shortage of money to build subsidized housing.
LL: What are your thoughts on the upcoming Cedar Avenue construction and the ever-increasing traffic volumes on CR42 and Cedar? Do you agree that traffic is the top issue facing Apple Valley residents?
Traffic management is one of the top issues facing our community. The Chamber of Commerce and the City of Apple Valley have successfully collaborated to make improvements to the Cedar Avenue Plan to support the businesses and residents along the corridor. I believe that the plan is better today because of our mutual effort.
In a joint effort the City and the Chamber walked the corridor to survey the businesses and learn what their concerns were. The businesses were amazed by the concern and effort made by both the Cities and the Chambers, on their behalf.
A rapid bus transportation system is a key part to managing the traffic system.
LL: What should the City of Apple Valley do to maintain and improve transit service, especially in light of the Suburb Operator vs. Metro Transit war of words that has been stoked in the news lately?
The Metropolitan Council is responsible for funding the bus system. M.V.T.A. is responsible for the operation of the system. The transit system and operations are not part of the budget of the city.
LL: What are you doing/suggest be done to bring “head of household jobs” to the city?
The City of Apple Valley has guided 275 acres in our Comprehensive Plan, for a Mixed Business Campus. The City has been in discussion with potential developers looking at Apple Valley for their growth opportunity.
Uponor’s North American Headquarters in Apple Valley has expanded four times in the last two years increasing both manufacturing and research and development jobs, bringing them to 336 jobs in Apple Valley. In a meeting with Uponor today they told us that their five year strategic plan includes substantial growth for their company in Apple Valley.
Our Community Development Department is actively meeting with developers to support the strategic plan of increasing head of household jobs in our community. We have spoken at conferences such as the “Urban Land Institute” and the Southern Twin Cities Realtors Association” about how Apple Valley has positioned itself for development now and into the future. We have been well received, increasing the activity amongst the development community and the City of Apple Valley.
The city is in the process of creating an economic development video that highlights our community assets.