Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a series detailing the three Red Wing mayoral candidates. Read about the other candidates here.
At a glance...
Address: 2508 Hallquist Ave., Red Wing
Education: BFA, MFA University of Utah, graduated magna cum laude
Family: Wife, Marcy Dowse; Son, Timothy; Daughter, Maggy
Occupation & civic involvement: Elected mayor of Red Wing in 2016; executive director of the Sheldon Theatre 1989 to retirement in 2015; Minnesota State Arts Board, 2011-present, currently chair; member of several grant review panels for public and private foundations; on numerous boards: Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, Minnesota Presenters Network, the Minnesota Music Coalition, Anderson Center at Tower View, Red Wing Chamber of Commerce, Goodhue County Park Board, Cannon Valley Trail , Red Wing Historic Preservation Commission and Red Wing Visitor & Convention Bureau; current director of and musicals for Red Wing High School and the community Phoenix Theatre.
What compelled you to run for a second term?
There are many goals left that my experience makes me uniquely qualified to achieve:
Work with city, county and state officials; leaders from Mayo Clinic Health System and the business and not-for-profit sectors to manage the economic and community recovery from the pandemic.
Expand quality housing to meet the needs of employers and families at all income levels.
Identify and eliminate systemic racism throughout city government and improve policies and practices in every department so local government works well for everyone.
Sustain and strengthen strategic city services, such as public safety, at a reasonable cost.
Support affordable and practical city capital investment in infrastructure and equipment that strengthens the economy and supports a superior quality of life for all.
Ensure the federal government complies with the law and removes the spent nuclear fuel from Red Wing and the Prairie Island Indian Community.
Work with the private sector and the city’s agencies to fill our downtown with a thriving combination of service, retail, performance and hospitality businesses that are prized by residents and attractive to visitors.
Maintain and enhance the river and our resilient shoreline infrastructure to preserve and improve access to a treasured recreational, economic and natural asset.
Assist the Arts & Culture Commission to help develop a noteworthy cityscape of public art that reflects our culture, our people and our aspirations and that attracts new business and visitors.
Help make neighborhoods the center of initiative, community and social sustenance.
Fulfill the potential of our riverfront from Colvill Park to the upper harbor as a thriving regional center for the community, recreation, business and housing.
Implement the 2040 community plan delivering on its promise of a sustainable, healthy, accessible, resilient and equitable Red Wing, where everyone thrive.
What local issues are you passionate about? Which issues would you prioritize if elected for another term?
First, creating a barrier-free environment with incentives to spur the revival of our historic downtown, as well as the rest of our local economy. It is important to know where government can help, and when government should get out of the way. My recovery plan includes working in concert with private developers and entrepreneurs to create thriving retail, restaurant, housing, and entertainment venues, as well as providing support and growth opportunities for manufacturing and new green industry. We will marshal the resources of the city’s Community Development Department, Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the City Council, Downtown Mainstreet, the Chamber of Commerce, the Red Wing Port Authority, and Arts and Culture Commission in partnership with the private sector.
Second, redevelopment of the old hospital site on Fourth Street. Work with Mayo Clinic Health System, government boards and the neighbors surrounding the old hospital to find a productive use for the site that complements and enhances the historic neighborhood.
Third, development of the property at Highways 61 and 19. The old Central Research property has been largely empty and without purpose for years. I would like to see the building removed and the site made ready to develop. I support creating a tax-increment district to attract investment.
What, if anything, would you change about the city of Red Wing?
As identified above: Grow quality housing; identify and eliminate systemic racism throughout city government; ensure the federal government complies with the law of the land and removes the spent nuclear fuel from the Red Wing and the Prairie Island Indian communities; assist the Arts & Culture Commission to help develop a noteworthy cityscape of public art and performing arts space.
What have you done to prepare for another term? What do you think makes you qualified for the role?
I have participated in the Regional Council Mayors. The RCM has provided me a nonpartisan platform for networking, learning, collaboration, and action that supports the region’s overall economic competitiveness, prosperity and quality of life.
I have also been elected Minnesota Chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. Our focus IS on the issues and opportunities that cities from Bemidji to New Orleans face. I have also participated in the League of Minnesota Cities, the Coalition of Minnesota Greater Minnesota Cities and the National League Cities. These opportunities have brought knowledge and insight from many points of view on a multitude of issues and opportunities facing cities.
How do you plan to involve residents in your decision-making process?
I plan to continue to work for responsive, transparent local government where everybody matters. I have been persistent in looking for new ways to bring people together. Our updated technology has built a bridge to the community. People can always call me at home: 651-388-5935 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to help.
How would you work to help the city recover after the COVID-19 pandemic?
We have already begun to implement my plan for recovery as laid out in the “top priorities question." As we continue to come out of the crisis, our citizens will benefit from strong, effective, experienced leadership with a plan of action and the knowledge to turn it into reality. I will continue to work with the public and private sector to monitor and ensure that key questions are being answered and that PPE supplies and guidance continue to be provided until we reach zero cases.
- Is the population infection rate under control?
- Is the health care system capacity sufficient?
- Do we have sufficient testing and contact tracing, and is the system working effectively and efficiently?
- What is the level of compliance with public health safety measures?
- Are we ensuring the protection and preparedness of essential workers?
- Are we protecting and preparing congregate facilities?
- Are we ensuring preparedness of businesses for reopening?
I am immensely proud of the people of our great city. We have already proven that we will get through this tough time. The way forward has been lighted by our citizens, who have stepped up and done the right things during these past difficult months. They are the real reason our county case level remains low. I believe we will come out on the other side of COVID-19 stronger and more prosperous than ever.
As mayor, I never forget that the decisions made at City Hall have a real impact on the health, safety, and economic future of our citizens. I know our young people are looking to buy their first house, many families are struggling to make ends meet, and seniors are just trying to get by on a fixed income. My focus these next four years will be to continue the work toward meaningful goals that improve all their lives.