Protect and Preserve the Environment
I support responsible budgeting to prudently maintain quality public services while planning for growth. This is especially important as Washington County anticipates an unprecedented demographic shift of older adults and cultural diversity with a population surge of more than 70,000 new residents by 2040. Forecasted areas of increased density will continue for the southwest + west-central portions of Washington County (Cottage Grove, Woodbury & Oakdale). I care deeply about community stability and protecting taxpayers through sound fiscal management and reducing bureaucracy without cuts to essential services. Given the projections for continued population growth and concentrated areas of density; the potential need for new facilities, programs and services is expected to be part of future County Board deliberations.
- An aging demographic will place increased pressure on safety net, affordable and stable housing and mobility programs. Expanding the equity lens to better serve and understand many cultural viewpoints will foster an environment of mutual respect, inspiring the next generation of community leaders.
- I pledge continued protection of the AAA bond ratings assigned to the county that reflect the strong fiscal discipline of the County Board, while providing safe and welcoming communities for all residents. And I continue to support an affordable and stable property tax rate by targeting specific services in a coordinated way, such as reliance on the wheelage tax (a true user fee), and sales tax (discretionary spending, not collected on purchases of clothing/groceries), to keep the pressure off of property taxes. Additional strategic investments in transportation infrastructure will increase safety, expand affordable mobility options and attract and retain businesses/industry that grow our tax base, provide stable employment and increase revenue without increasing residential or commercial property taxes.
I will continue to prioritize safety and capacity investments in transportation infrastructure for my district, while ensuring the countywide system of roadways and bridges are well-maintained, leveraging state and federal dollars. I pledge continued efforts for multi-modal transportation systems to empower citizens to make their own mobility choices, while adding value to existing places with transit. Weak investment in modern transitway corridors can lead to economic disadvantage. Each transportation project must ALSO be considered for its economic development potential; permanent transitway corridors powerfully attract private investment in zones around station stops (Transit Orientated Development -TOD), approximately one mile apart and one/city into Union Depot. And modern freeway systems lower costs for every business and family in the region.
Specifically, the GOLD Line Bus Rapid Transit project is poised to deliver a much needed modern mobility option sparking economic development near well-designed, clean and safe station stops boosting local economies along the line with job growth, a mix of housing stock, and adding tourism with station stops that reflect the unique character of each community. An opportunity to co-locate a much needed, larger county central-region western service center (move license center operations from Radio Drive to Gold Line 494 terminus), collocating workforce training, community/public health divisions and deputy registrar services adjacent to transit services with some of the new facility costs partially eligible for federal dollars via the Federal Transit Administration (FTA’s) Joint Development program. To serve both transit riders and service center patrons, initial plans include a 5-story parking ramp visible from the freeway and large enough for future ridership growth. Express bus service may also consolidate in this area using a slip ramp to directly access the 494 freeway, reducing local street travel. The GOLD Line BRT project will be on critical path following the November elections advancing to a regulatory “gate” that requires prior approval by the FTA to advance into Final Engineering early next year. As a leader in transportation and longtime champion for the GOLD Line project, my continued involvement holds less risk for costly delays when keeping GOLD Line on track could expedite an economic recovery from the grim COVID-induced recession. Build back better with BRT to serve all residents of every demographic calling our community home. Gold Line may be the “silver” lining when we need it most. The project is at 60% design but could be at 90% design as early as next spring; a potential construction start in 2021 or early 2022, is only viable if the project receives eligibility for federal funds (45%), and meets other project goals. I’ve prepared for 11 years to fully and best meet this challenge, on your behalf.
Ensure the cleanup of PFC contaminated wells and groundwater continues in a quick and orderly fashion. Continue to support the Washington County Environmental Center in Woodbury, including more hours and expanded material drop-off. Ensure the $20 million that was given to the county following passage of the county-wide Land and Water Legacy Act referendum in 2006, continues to be spent wisely. Consider recommendations from the Park & Planning Commission on how these dollars are spent on parkland and development rights purchases (willing sellers only), to conserve open space. Continue to leverage money from other public and private entities to stretch our dollars as far as possible and ensure that only the best parcels (good criteria are already in place) are selected, negotiated and finalized.
- I support regional equity goals outlined in the Metropolitan Council’s “THRIVE MSP 2040” planning document that envisions permanent, modern transitway corridors connecting to county regional parks for improved outcomes.
- A county road safety/expansion project concurrently replaced storm water pipes to redirect runoff, already high in nutrient load, to irrigate the grounds of nearby golf courses also lowering their operating costs. Collaborating with the watershed district saved taxpayer dollars by adding the improvements together, cut phosphorus levels in nearby Colby Lake below impaired and reduced groundwater demand from the aquifer for commercial and municipal use. 100% of the drinking water in Washington County comes from ground water. We must protect and conserve our most valuable resources.