League of Women Voters 2009 Voter Guide

The League of Women Voters offered all candidates the opportunity to answer a few questions for an online Voter Guide. There’s no direct access to the First Ward races, but it’s pretty easy to find them. Go here and enter your ZIP code to get started.

To save you a few clicks, here’s what I had to say:

1.  Relevant Experience:

Two terms as Audubon Neighborhood President, and two terms as Treasurer. Ten years on our neighborhood Board. Currently Land Use Committee Chair. Participant in many community planning initiatives. Led survey of Latino housing needs. Served on the City’s Community Engagement Task Force. Founding volunteer of Northeast Citizen Patrol.

2.  Education:

B.S. in Economics from the U of M. Graduate of De La Salle High School. Attended Kenny for elementary and Anthony for junior high. Neighborhood organizer and financial training through NRP. Completed coursework to become a life coach. As an entrepreneur, I have learned many things they don’t teach in schools.

5.  What issues do you think the city will be facing in the next 4 years?

Our city is facing a huge loss of revenue. City Hall is on an unsustainable fiscal path. The City Council cannot keep spending as it has without imposing more tax hikes that will drive more people out their homes and businesses. Another wave of home foreclosures looms.

Much commercial property is also at risk of default. Other levels of government face the same basic problem of diminishing revenue, so State and Federal support to the people will be reduced. Burdens will shift to City Hall. To preserve our quality of life as City Hall necessarily shrinks, our people will have to step forward and do more for each other and our communities. We need a City Council that trusts and supports the people to do good for each other. The Council must finally follow its priorities and properly provide basics first. City Hall must support economic activity, not drive it. This an opportunity to return power to our people and our neighborhoods.

6.  Is city zoning adequate, or should it be altered? How would you see this affect retail, neighborhoods, business development, etc.?

Our city has adopted a vision for smart growth in a mature urban environment. It’s called the Minneapolis Plan, and current zoning does not accurately reflect it. Zoning should be updated to align with our vision. Our greatest asset is our people, and we must make room for more of them. This means density, and it’s in the Plan. Unfortunately, many folks fear density. Neighbors and neighborhoods must understand that there is good density. Sustainability depends on it. Retail flourishes with more customers close by. Jobs are created by the investment that follows growing populations. We can grow without overwhelming our quality of life. I believe there is room for everybody. The Plan preserves the traditional fabric of our neighborhoods by increasing density only along transport corridors. People must be empowered to determine how much and how fast, but keeping our big-city amenities depends on growth. Smart rezoning can guide and inspire that needed growth.

7.  What are your ideas to increase city revenues and decrease city expenses?

We can decrease City Hall’s financial footprint on the public by electing a government that tackles basics first. City Hall’s job is to provide infrastructure, to protect us, and to enforce our obligations. Development is not a core service. Let’s unwind CPED and empower community-based development. Entertainment is not a core service. Let’s sell Target Center and retire the debt. Tourism is not a core service. Let’s look at selling the Convention Center. With a few bold strokes, we can shrink City Hall by $200M (about 15%). Costs should be paid by those who benefit. We all benefit from core services. But if policing downtown crowds leaves our neighborhoods unprotected, and if rebuilding downtown streets means potholes everywhere else, we have to find a better balance. Entertainment taxes on large venues and targeted use taxes can help. Vacant properties also wrongly shift burdens. Let’s fight blight by taxing property that’s used well below what zoning allows.

We were allowed a given number of characters for each response. I used all the space they offered. The strange numbering of the questions (there’s no #3 or #4) is how the LWVMN set things up.

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