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: 2663 Ridge View Court, Red Wing
Education: BA-Political Science, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Family: Husband Dave, four children.
Occupation: current Red Wing School Board member, Goodhue County Park Board member and volunteer for various non-profits.
Civic Involvement: Red Wing YMCA, current chair, volunteer since 2010; Every Hand Joined Community Group, 2016-current; Summer Bast program; Results Based Accountability Cohort; Hiawatha Valley Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Steering Committee; Blandin Community Leadership Program 2011-2012; Hope Coalition volunteer and fundraiser; Hope & Harbor homeless shelter volunteer; Cornerstone Community Church, leadership team 2007-2013, kids ministry teacher and various outreach and community events 2006-current; Red Wing Public Schools Foundation, 2007-2019; Red Wing Elementary PAC Parent group 2007-2017, chair 2009-2011;United Way; Community Investment Committee 2009,2010; First Choice Clinic, Red Wing, 2008-current; MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), Christian organization supporting families, 2000-2015; Red Wing Group founder, leader 2007-2012; Park Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis, active program volunteer.
What compelled you to run to be mayor of Red Wing?
I am running for mayor because I believe we have lost some direction as a city. I possess leadership skills and training that I would like to serve my community with. I just spent a year as a Humphrey School Policy Fellow, where I was immersed in leadership training and policy focus for positive outcomes in communities. I have built relationships with various Minnesota leaders in this program, and worked on programs related to diversity in education, home ownership initiatives, justice reforms, and continued discussions on the opportunities for racial and cultural partnerships.
I am confident that I can be of help to the city of Red Wing.
What local issues are you passionate about? Which issues would you address first if elected?
Taxes, city spending, business development, community trust, and education. As I am out campaigning, I continue to hear the same repetitive sentiments by residents -- frustration with yearly tax increases that lead to some residents beginning to look elsewhere to live. The city spending does not align with residents' urgencies or needs, and dismal community stats like decreasing household income and a stagnant population that continue to be overlooked.
I agree about these population issues, because as a School Board member, our student counts are declining -- this is not a trend we want for a healthy, whole community. If elected, I would encourage the council and city staff to conduct a peer city review to compare our taxes and spending to other similar-sized cities.
And we need to start a strong process of budget prioritization -- following the city's Strategic Plan of sustainability. I would continue to meet with businesses and residents as we build trust and hear from all voices. As mayor, I would always bring both sides to every issue-sharing the concerns of residents and asking questions.
I would also start actively highlighting Red Wing as a great place to live, work, and have fun as we need to encourage tourism, but also see the urgency of our population sustainability.
What, if anything, would you change about the city of Red Wing?
I know Red Wing has the opportunity to use its resources even more. The river, arts and proximity to the Twin Cities and Rochester make it an ideal place. My family picked it! With the river and bluffs, our natural environment has so many more opportunities to be highlighted. With our arts culture and Sheldon Theater, Red Wing offers so much culture and uniqueness. We need to continue to develop the great things we already have within our community, and strategically work together in business, nonprofits, and government to ensure we are maximizing their value for all.
What have you done to prepare for elected office? What do you think makes you qualified for the role?
I have spent eight years in elected office and been selected for several community leadership preparation programs. I am qualified because I have already worked in government capacities and spent many hours learning. I know it's about listening, learning, questioning and ultimately discussing what is best for our community with a group of diverse people. It's also about leadership-focusing on positive results, standing up for the hard things, and talking to everyone-even those you personally may not agree with.
How do you plan to involve residents in your decision-making process?
My favorite part of elected office is meeting with community members. I plan to make a focused effort on starting mayoral listening sessions in different areas, even trying to come to people in their employee realms. I know I am an approachable, open person-my record on the school board reflects this. I would begin a lunch group where I would ask diverse residents to begin to build relationships and trust. I know that is how true community is achieved.
How would you work to help the city recover after the COVID-19 pandemic?
With so many unknowns still with COVID, I would try to help the city focus on our business support. As I have met with Red Wing business owners, it sounds like we are already doing a good job in many areas-especially with our Port Authority loans and with the waiver of the liquor license for restaurants. I am sure more obstacles will occur, and the city must do all in its power to be helpful. Then, they'll be hard decisions to be made with the city's budget and levy, priorities will have to be made. As a school board member, I was chair when we had to make reductions multiple years in a row. I have negotiated with teachers and staff to make sure our district budget was secure many times over my eight years. Right-sizing budget expenditures is hard work, but it has to be done. Red Wing needs to be focused on long term sustainability as a whole-for our budget and for our residents.