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Inver Grove Heights City Council Voter Guides

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Editorials

2018 Inver Grove Heights City Council Candidates

Paul Hark

Bio: I am honored and proud to serve my first term on the IGH City Council. We have made very good progress on all issues concerning development in IGH and need to keep the momentum we have. I have many diverse professional experiences. I have owned two small businesses and am married to a small business owner. I understand the pressures involved in owning a business and creating jobs. I’ve worked in large and small organizations, and in the public and private sector. I served on the IGH Planning Commission for nine years, ending up as Chair. I understand land use issues and how they impact our business climate. I have been a ceaseless promoter of the IGH business community and plan on continuing this over my second and final term. I am a budget hawk and pay attention to the budget process.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?

The biggest challenge facing the city is effectively dealing with our population growth. It is expected that IGH will have 50,000 residents by the year 2030. We need to manage this growth and ensure that we have the right mix of housing and commercial opportunities.  The estimated growth will put pressure on our budget and affect the costs of city services. The growth will put pressure on our police and fire departments, cause more wear and tear on our roads and add pressure to our water and sewer systems. It will also create the need for additional open space (i.e. parks).  This all needs to be managed so we do not end up taxing residents out of their homes.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  • Actively manage the spending side of the budget (as this affects the revenue side of the budget)
  • Create a more effective Economic Development Authority to create a more development-friendly reputation for IGH
  • Continue to insist on First-Class Customer Service. We have initiated a new Customer Service policy and we need to insist that it be followed.

Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated? Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities?

Because Inver Grove Heights is in rapid growth mode, we need to proceed very carefully and strategically with regards to which services should be reduced, enhanced, or shared. These types of decisions cannot be made in the abstract but need to be fact-based and made relative to the long-term benefit of IGH.

Brenda Dietrich

Bio: Local business co-owner of Hardline Concrete & Masonry Inc., a family-owned business in Inver Grove Heights for over 35 years, Tri-district mentor for students at Henry Sibley Memorial High School, River Heights Chamber Ambassador and former Chair, board member and current Chair, Southeast Metro Business PAC (Political Action Committee) former secretary and Vice President, Delegate for the River Heights Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC (2015), Course study of the Government Affairs Curriculum, focused on the process of government at the grassroots, local, state and federal levels of government, involvement in Inver Grove Heights Local Issues meetings monthly with department leaders in the city.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?

The biggest challenge facing the city is developing open lines of communication between local residents, the city and business.  This foundation affects the success of all other factors.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  • Being a voice for residents’ concerns
  • Transparency & consistency
  • Smart business growth, fostered by open lines of communication stated above

Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated? Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities?

This is a topic that I would need to get residents feedback from before eliminating or cutting back. I do believe in trying new things and assessing what is working and what can be done more effectively. I do think we can explore sharing resources with surrounding communities. Good ideas can come from anywhere, we need to listen and make wise decisions, learning from each other.

Rosemary Piekarski Krech

Bio: As an educator, urban farmer, child-care provider, daughter, sister, wife, caregiver, widow, lifelong learner, former mayor and current council member, I have developed a balanced approach of process and people-oriented problem-solving skills. I always try to work for consensus not compromise and maintain respect for everyone when dealing with city governance. I think as a city we have accomplished a great deal. We have added hundreds of new residents, new businesses have opened, we selected a new police chief, are on our way to finally build a fire station to serve Southern IGH, have added a Communications director, a new Development director, and still maintained a reasonable levy rate.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?
Financing the many needs of a growing community is our biggest challenge. We need to be fiscally careful and spend city money in a way that keeps us a competitive city in Dakota County.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

My top three priorities would be:

  • Sound finance
  • Completion and equipping the fire station
  • Sustainability

Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated? Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities?

We are always looking at what is necessary and needed and have several JPAs and are always open to others.

Todd Kruse

Bio: Residents of IGH would benefit from my career experience as a city franchise agreement negotiator, my experience as a business owner/consultant to businesses, and as an MBA instructor specializing in strategic management which would be an asset to a city in need of innovative approaches to serving its constituents.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?

The business climate. The climate is stagnant and actually a deterrent for entrepreneurs since numerous business owners have informed me that contractors they wanted to work with have refused to work in IGH. This lack of competitive bidding on business and residential projects (such as a new garage or a deck on your home) becomes a form of hidden taxation since the competitive pressure to keep prices down and quality of service high is limited.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  • Re-brand and re-constitute the membership of the city’s Economic Development Authority
  • Reorganize the city’s citizen commissions/committees based on community feedback to guide the decisions.  Some commissions I would like to consider are: 1.) Arbor Pointe Commercial Area Commission, 2.) Empty Buildings Commission, 3.) City-to-City Regional Collaboration Commission, and 4.) Innovation/TED Talk Commission (could invite River Heights Chamber of Commerce as a participant).  I know firsthand that our current city leaders turn away volunteers interested in serving, so let’s harness interested citizens’ creative energy where the city needs innovative thinking.
  • Start working on 2020 city elections to recruit candidates who share my worldview to transform our city

Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated? Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities? 

Hopefully, residents will agree with me that money pits like Inver Wood Golf Course and The Grove recreation center are not sacred cows that will ensure my election defeat should I advocate any changes. Imagine an IGH where our recreation center is managed by LA Fitness or Lifetime Fitness where membership rates are lower, AND members get the added benefit of access to other branches such as LA Fitness on Robert Street in West St. Paul or Lifetime’s Eagan facility.

Voters need to ask themselves – “Hey, since I am shopping at Hy-Vee in Eagan today, I think I will go swimming at the Lifetime location on Cliff Avenue…” simply because their The Grove membership now (assuming Lifetime or LA Fitness become the management company) provides them with a greater range of options for recreation throughout the Twin Cities metro area.

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