Jon Wood candidate mug

Wood

What is one city issue you believe the council should pay more attention to?

Faysel Ali: I think the council has an opportunity to align its delivery of service in a way that is accessible to all members of the community that they serve. e.g our deaf and blind community and new Americans just to name a few. One way to address this is perhaps to hire a liaison from different communities to facilitate community engagement with their elected officials. 

Sarah Caron: The main issue I would like to address if elected would be to help restore the small town pride mentioned in our city motto. I would do this by increasing awareness and involvement in city government; by addressing the lack of quality, and truly affordable housing in town; and by focusing more on our largely vacant downtown. Since the next few questions address the aforementioned topics, I would like to focus on another issue that I believe the city needs to pay more attention to and that is mental illness and addiction. A longtime friend, I grew up with, lost his life to alcohol addiction. This loss is sadly something many people in Faribault can relate to, and yet, there is a lack of resources. If elected to city council, I promise to support the development of programs and institutions, especially those focusing on non-traditional solutions that address these behaviors.

Adam Gibbons: The city is trying to meddle in too many things. I believe we need to step back and refocus on the basics: 1 Infrastructure (roads, water and sewer, and Police and Fire). The city should be paying attention to city responsibilities, not leaning over the shoulders of the residents nit picking the size of trash cans, colors of sheds, or if there is an egg laying bird living on private property. It would be my intention to help rein in the city, keep their fingers out of everyone’s pie.

Royal Ross: If I am re-elected to Faribault City Council, one thing I would like to accomplish over the next term is reviewing the current Unified Development Ordinance. I think there are may codes and ordinances that are outdated or unnecessary and could be removed or made more compatible with current situations. These codes and ordinances have an effect on developers as well as homeowners, so they influence almost everyone in our city. We need Faribault residents to feel they can bring issues to the City Council and be heard. When people bring issues before the City Council, I always look at all sides of the issue and ask the question, “how can we make this happen in a manner that is fair”. I am not one to go along with ‘the way it’s always been done’. I continually look for compromises and adjustments in evaluating situations.

Jonathan Wood: Faribault has a collective culture of investment in our youth and many organizations dedicated to our youth’s success. I believe one area the city needs to pay more attention to is our opportunities for youth. Many of our existing parks and trails are in need of updating. Likewise, many of our schools and facilities need updating. Investing in our youth is an endeavor that will always pay off. My wife and I have chosen Faribault as our home, and we are very lucky to be raising our children here. As a council member I take great pride in the ability to wisely make these investments. As civic organizations and non-profits that are committed to youth invest look to the city for assistance, I believe it is incredibly important to make these partnerships.

What can the city do to add more needed housing?

FA: There’s a great need to satisfy housing shortages here in Faribault for a long time now. Housing is the foundation of all bases of a community. Here's my view: A) In order for economic development to continue and attract more investors we first must address the growing mixture of different family structures within our community. B) One size fits all approach is not appropriate for Faribault housing needs. While I do not believe the city be the housing developer still city leadership must prioritize a housing policy that works for all. 

SC: The city council can continue to work with developers and contractors to bring more housing to the city. The city could offer more incentives to encourage new development, such as discounted fees and by accelerating the permit process. I would also like to see the city council get more creative to meet the housing needs of all residents. The current council seems to think that market rate is equivalent to affordable; which does not benefit a large percentage of Faribault’s population who need more affordable housing options. I look forward to the opportunity when elected to discuss fair housing guidelines with the council and to ensure that the council is using all possible tools to create a more equitable community.

AG: 

It is not the business of the City to “Add more housing”. The best (and only fair and responsible way) for the city to encourage housing development, is to get out of the way. Remove as much regulatory burden, administrative cost, and tax burden for everyone looking to build, remodel, or improve a home. Having a roughly 7% property tax increase with the stresses of a pandemic, and economic insecurity is highly irresponsible of our city government.

RR:  We have been fortunate to have several developers start apartment projects in Faribault and over the next 12-16 months, there will be almost 300 new apartment units. We will probably still have the capacity for more housing units but this growth will certainly help our current low vacancy situation. We need to reach out to developers to gauge their interest in additional townhome or condo units, as well as other forms of developments such as a modular home development or a small home development. Investors currently hold many, many single-family home lots so the local government cannot be in competition with the private investors and the city cannot take the role of a developer. The best we can do is improve our permit system and continue to work with contractors and developers.

JW: Faribault is blessed to have a city staff that works diligently to bring in developers. Recently, the Mac Hamiliton project across from Buckham West added 44 more apartments to our downtown. As a builder, I believe we also need to address the totality of the market. The majority of the homes I currently build are bought by baby boomers that are downsizing. Courting more local and small builders to capture this segment of the market will free up existing inventory for growing families that are looking to move. Furthermore, I would like to see the city work with a team of local builders to develop a TIF district focusing on new construction townhomes. These properties are relatively easy to build and offer buyers more options. As a builder and a council member I feel very blessed to be a part of the solution in the field and in council chambers.

How will you work to make sure the voices of all Faribaultians are heard in City Hall?

FA: Representation is one of the pillars of democracy, and in a healthy and young democracy like ours in this county, city leadership now has an opportunity to direct our community narrative in a manner that would position us to appreciate each other's presence here and prosper together. If I’m elected I will bring diversity and inclusivity to our policymaking process. I will work tirelessly to advocate the added value that missing voices bring to the table so that we may grow together.

SC: I am running for council because the current council needs a fresh voice. Often times it seems to be the same faces involved in our community. These individuals work diligently to make our town better and I thank them for their time and commitment. But, I feel there is a large population that isn’t being represented and I would like the opportunity to be their voice.

A voice, for people like me, who struggle at times to make ends meet. One of the most important jobs of local government is to engage the public and create an opportunity for an open exchange of ideas. I think we could do better creating these connections and fostering open dialogue. One easy fix, right now, would be to improve the quality of sound at the meetings that are broadcast on the local public station.

AG: I think my voice is one of the “unheard voices” of Faribault. We rarely if ever, hear about the residents having the freedom to run their own affairs. It's always what the City will “allow” or “grant” to the people living in town. There are many many residents that just want the city to “butt out”, and those voices tend to get shut out no matter the age, race, or back ground of the individual. I would work to quiet the voice of the city, in favor of ALL individuals in Faribault.

RR: During my time on City Council, I have received many forms of communication from citizens including face to face, emails, calls, and private messages. I believe I have always responded to every type of communication that I received so the citizen knew they were heard. When applicable, I have brought the citizen’s comments before the council. For example, I brought forward the idea of increasing all unmarked parking time limits so citizens do not have to move their vehicle every 18 hours. This came from a comment I received from a citizen. I have also brought forward ideas such as removing some regulations on businesses that were requested from current business owners. When we are considering issues that affect a large number of businesses or citizens, I have taken the time to contact people and conduct surveys to find out how people feel about the issues.

JW: From Faribault’s inception, inclusivity has been a cornerstone of our community. As a member of the LEAD Team at First English Lutheran Church, we have spent a good portion of our work looking to encourage this concept. Over the course of many months we reached out to community leaders and listened. During these meetings we listened to find out what are the community’s needs. We also listened for ways to help address these needs. I find it incredibly important for everyone to have a voice in Faribault, especially if there is a need. Connecting resources and strengths within our diverse community will ensure success for everyone in our community. As a council member, I have made responding to citizen calls and emails a top priority. Also on council I have worked to support our local non-profit and civic organizations. These organizations are invaluable to our community’s voice.

What should the council do to encourage redevelopment downtown?

FA: Visitors and locals alike want to see a vibrant and energetic and safe business hub with diverse offerings. Faribault already has all the necessary ingredients but we are hampered by an unfair and baseless narrative that hurts our collective interest.

SC: To encourage redevelopment downtown, the council needs to address the boarded up and papered windows that have been allowed to remain for years. We have a beautiful and historic downtown that the city council has let fall into disrepair. Tearing down an old building because the landlord hasn’t maintained it properly is not a solution, and one that we cannot allow to happen again. I understand not wanting to infringe on property owners’ rights and the free market; however, I also recognize the significant potential draw of our downtown for tourism dollars and the pride it brings to locals. The council needs to step in and take a more active role in the redevelopment of downtown. I believe after we address a couple troublesome building owners, and set some clear expectations for the future, the council can be creative with the ultimate goal of attracting new businesses to main street.

AG: The downtown is one of the city’s biggest failures. The property and business owners are willing and able to work through many of the challenges of today’s business climate. The city seems to constantly be coming in with a yearly “plan to save downtown”, and they change parking or demand certain paint choices, and again interfere in the work of the people. And I am sure they do so with the best of intentions, but seem to constantly fall short of the promised outcomes. We need to back off. Quit taxing all residents and businesses of town to funnel to where the council thinks best. Let customers and residents “vote” on who and what to support with their dollars, let the town and business community evolve and develop naturally.

RR:  This is a tough situation because local government cannot, and should not, dictate how owners care for their property outside of safety and code violations. With that said, all encouragement must come in the form of incentives or the providing of services. One example would be the city inspected all the commercial properties downtown over the past couple years for safety purposes. Prior to this, the city had no ability to inspect the buildings unless the owner wanted to do some work that required a building permit. Another example would be how the EDA has offered incentives over the past few years in matching funds, where an owner could get some forgivable loans to complete building upgrades. (The EDA has their own taxing authority and their own levy.) I believe the city should continue to work with building owners to provide incentives that would help new businesses to open.

JW: Faribault’s historic downtown is something we all take pride in. Preserving and improving our downtown is hugely important to me. In the 2040 Comprehensive Plan there is special emphasis on our downtown. For instance, reconnecting to the river, adding green space, adding trees along the boulevards where applicable, are all great steps towards improvement. Preserving our historic buildings is also a focal point. As a member of the Faribault Masonic Lodge we recently moved and are in the process of renovating a historic building. Encouraging property owners to utilize existing grants for downtown renovations and improvements will make a great impact. There are numerous grants available through the EDA and important tax credits for buildings in our historic district that will help offset costs. I believe a healthy downtown will equate to an even healthier Faribault.

What experiences in your background do you feel are particularly relevant to serving on council?

FA: One must have patience and perseverance to face difficult matters. This is a privilege that must be taken seriously with all its responsibilities. I have experience in diversity and business development, in particular, I am Entrepreneur, and being one requires many interpersonal skills including; risk management, time management, willingness to listen, willingness to be vulnerable in a leadership position, critical thinking, teamwork, and analytical problem-solving skills among others. Thank you.

SC: In my professional life, work as a journalist covering city council meetings and state legislature sparked my interest in politics and gave me a better understanding of government. I believe my time as a high school teacher offered me many valuable experiences that will benefit me as a member of the city council. Currently I am working in the hospitality and service industry, and I can assure you, any time spent in customer service builds strength and character. My life experiences led me to this position. I have been very fortunate. I was raised here and grew up enjoying the freedom of a childhood in a rural Minnesota town. My roots run deep in Faribault, most people know my grandparents, or other relatives. It is my hope that if elected you will come to experience my real enthusiasm for home town pride. I will be working for you and for Faribault!

AG: Living and raising 4 children in Faribault for over a decade.

RR: Prior to serving on the council, I spent a great deal of time volunteering with different nonprofits in Faribault. This allowed me to not only get to know the community, but it allowed me to get to know the people within the community. Those experiences gave me an appreciation for our entire city and all the residents. I was fortunate to have served for 2 years with former Council member Kay Duchene and I learned a lot just by observing how she prepared, questioned, and broke down the components of issues. I have tried to follow those principals myself as I listen, pay attention, prepare and I am very conscious of the items I bring before the council and the votes that I place. I look forward to continuing to serve the great citizens of Faribault and I encourage them to reach out to me.

JW: In order to be a successful council person I believe a strong educational and business background are vital. My experiences are reflective of both. Having attended Bethel College and received a paralegal degree, my educational background overlaps perfectly with council responsibilities. The proper legal analysis is issue, reasoning, analysis, and conclusion. This is how I approach every agenda item. Likewise, as a business owner I am always working with clients, sub contractors, building officials, and various city staff to successfully complete a project. Having built over three hundred houses in my career I have also built a wealth of knowledge. Many agenda items that come before us on council are construction related. Sharing my experiences and lending advice is something I look forward to every week. Over the next four years I look forward to continue serving my community.

Reach Reporter Andrew Deziel at 507-333-3129 or follow him on Twitter @FDNandrew. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Load comments