Perhaps not surprisingly, more negativity and half truths are being distributed – and now directed at me. We have somehow learned to expect this in Lake Elmo politics, but we should expect better. On-line sites such as We Love Lake Elmo, that appears to be aligned with the incumbent group, are attacking my character and the time I have spent volunteering in the community.
If you have your doubts, please check with council or board members with whom I have served in the past or currently, and see if that sounds true to them. This is more of our current destructive dynamic. This reflects how much we need a change. It is valid to ask tough questions and check with the candidates on their stances. I applaud that and am excited to engage with community members on issues important to the city and them. It is equally important to get the full story, context, and facts, not just “cherry-picked” quotes out of context or half of the story.
A few negatives circulating around:
- A “Pawn” for others on the council? – As 52-yr old CEO and objective/analytical-thinker, I have my own mind. I work for you, the residents of the city, I am not a “pawn” of anyone or any incumbent coalition. No matter how much it is suggested otherwise, I am an independent-thinker and my own person.
- Part of Irresponsible Library? – The Volunteer-built library is an incredible community asset reflecting the unique sense of pride residents have in Lake Elmo and that you will not find in many other “suburbs.” Our library provides 2X the open hours for the community and great programs, due to amazing and committed volunteers, at a LOWER cost than under the previous Washington County branch (which was also slated to be closed by the County). The Lk Elmo library is working to bring the best of both together; a win-win for the City and County, which can be accomplished! Efforts to rebuilding relations with Washington Co. are underway.
It is also important to note that the County has not yet even stated that a library branch will exist in downtown Lake Elmo (Stillwater Gazette, July 1, 2016. Lake Elmo misses deadline, can’t join county library system next year): “Absent was a specific reference to or guarantee of the future existence of a county library branch in Lake Elmo.” Also stated by Co. Library Director Ryskoski: “While a Lake Elmo branch may or may not fit into the county system is yet to be determined, Ryskoski said they would need to look at how the current system would serve the needs of the residents and if there is a need to expand to a new county branch location.” Link: http://stillwatergazette.com/2016/07/01/lake-elmo-misses-deadline-cant-join-county-library-system-next-year/
Candidates say we need to rejoin the County system, but at least one incumbent candidate has told me they would not support joining the County without a city/downtown branch. So the other candidates should state publicly if they support rejoining and giving all our tax levy to the County ($250,000+), would they put conditions on it, such as a downtown branch, good hours, and volunteer involvement? Obviously there is more to this issue than simply rejoin or not, and as a library board member I continue to work very hard and am committed to find a cooperative way to join up with the County and keep strong services for Lake Elmo and vibrancy for our downtown.
- Conflict of Interest if Elected to City Council – Another commentary suggests that my current career and role as a water resources engineer and expert is a conflict of interest. Apparently sharing knowledge on the newest technical information is a negative for the city…? During the League of Women’s Voters candidate forum, there was a conflict of interest question. In the conclusion of my response I stated I would not work for the city while on the city council. This was exactly what was requested and suggested in the post on-line. Maybe those that posted the comment just need to re-listen to the forum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gtniw9DxXU
I encourage you to watch the two forums with all candidates featured.
- League of Women Voters (Oct. 6, 2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gtniw9DxXU
- Stillwater Gazette Candidate Forum (Oct. 17, 2016). Rebroadcasts:
Valley Access Channels playback, Channel 15 only:
10/26 — 1 & 7 p.m.
10/27 — 7 a.m.
11/3 — 1 & 10 p.m.
11/4 — 7 a.m.
- Transparency and Library Board Meetings – Another negative claim is that there is not as much transparency on the library board, on which I serve as chair, as there should be. I take openness and transparency very seriously. Most would say I am extra cautious about being open, often reminding others to keep the open meeting rules in mind. The local newspaper that reported this taped meeting seemed to suggest there was a decision made by the Board that was withheld from the minutes. That is a very serious thing. No decisions were made and withheld from the minutes.
After reviewing the content with the editor, the editor of the Stillwater Gazette changed the on-line version of the September 26, 2016 story about the Lake Elmo library with the following explanation that clarifies that the article misidentified undocumented “actions.”
“Editor’s note: This story has been amended to clarify that the items omitted from the minutes were not formal actions requiring a vote. No formal votes were omitted — the items omitted from the record involved consensus and directions given by the board without a vote.”
For context, it should be noted that the newspaper reporter has not attended library meetings, and the topic of an attorney had been discussed for a long time previously, with a Board member simply checking back in and that no new progress had occurred and we would continue the same course (nothing changed). It is also clear to those who attend board meetings (including volunteer boards with volunteer minute takers) minutes from board and council meetings are not to be verbatim transcripts.
- Library Parking Lot Design Process and Conflict of Interest – There were on-line statements about a proposed parking lot and my company’s brief involvement. The library’s gravel lot was identified to be paved and the Library Board wanted to explore an innovative “green” design, creating a quality landscape area within downtown, treating water runoff, and ultimately adding safe pedestrian movement across the downtown area. It serves the downtown area that lacks parking, especially Lion’s Park for families coming to games. During the initial planning, technical help was needed to initiate the project and respond to the urgency to do the project soon. I abstained from any voting, and my company did the initial start up of less than 10 hours. I declined any further involvement of my company and the library selected a design consultant to carry the formal design effort forward. My company and I subsequently have donated about 4 to 5-times that amount of time to advance this project – without compensation. The cost of the project was also questioned. The paving portion is similar in cost to an earlier estimate by the city, reflecting high construction costs. Several additional areas and features, including pedestrian walkways and outdoor “classrooms,” have been added since then.
- Incumbent-group signs proliferate; more of “us vs. them”? – The current politics promotes negativity. To continue with an incumbent-led group is a recipe of continued dysfunction. New faces and fresh perspectives, not entangled in the old dynamic, are needed to bring some calm and civility to the city. I will work across our council for effective government that focuses on responsible, creative, careful growth for Lake Elmo vs. the dysfunction of the past.
And for the record, I love Lake Elmo too.