City council: Christy Jo Fogarty, incumbent
Why do you feel you're the most qualified candidate?
Over the last seven years I have learned a great deal about the city both as a council member and as an active member of the community. I have built relationships with our county and state leaders to help form policies and eliminate unnecessary mandates on our city. In addition, I have been able to work with local organizations to understand better the needs of our community. Although I have served for several years on the council I never stop doing "my homework" and working hard for our city. I also serve on the board of soil and water resources, having been appointed by Governor Pawlenty in 2009, giving me opportunity to represent the entire metropolitan area including Farmington at a state level. Working with the Clean Water Legacy Funds allows me to advocate for the metro areas and shape polices to reduce the regulations on cities like Farmington.
What do you like about Farmington? What would you change?
There is so much too proud of in Farmington. I love the small town feeling and community we have here in Farmington. Being the first Yellow Ribbon City in the state is an amazing accomplishment, showing how a community stands behind its soldiers and their families. I also am proud of events such as Dew Days and the Community Expo and Toys for Town, where the city partners with other organizations including the school district to showcase all that Farmington has to offer and help people in our city.
If I could change anything I would encourage people in our community to shop locally as often as possible. I would also like to see more new businesses come to the city.
What is the role of city council in attracting development?
The role the city council has in attracting new business to the city is to create an environment that is business friendly, like we have in the city today. The best way to attract new business is to help current businesses to succeed. There are 50 more businesses today than were here eight years ago and several more that have expanded their businesses within the city.
By working with these companies we have learned what some of our strengths and weaknesses are, and what we can do to encourage more commercial and industrial development. One of the things we learned and created was a new streamline process to help businesses get through the needed paperwork in 30 days, making the process easier and faster. We continue to reach out to developers and companies to help us capture new businesses. Residential development has decreased significantly in the city, as with all cities, but we still have the highest number of new building permits in Dakota County, so the city needs to continue to work with residential developers so the needs of the community are met.
What are the essential services the city of Farmington offers, and would you be willing to make cuts to those services if necessary?
Public safety is the number one responsibility of the city council. In addition, the city is responsible for infrastructure like roads, sewer, and water. Put simply the residents expect and should receive a safe community to live in, the water to run when they turn on the faucet, the garbage picked up, their roads in good condition and cleared of snow in a timely manner. I wouldn't make any cuts that disrupt those essential services, however, that doesn't mean costs aren't ever reduced in these areas. I look everywhere in the budget to see where cuts can be made or how things can be run more effectively and efficiently. This includes looking at new ways to dispose of or reduce garbage including the new single sort recycling that has been hugely successful in the city.
If you could address just one issue, what would it be, and why?
The city budget. Just like families have seen reductions in their budgets, so has the city, and we have been cutting back just like you have. Over the last eight years the city has lost almost a million dollars in aid from the state. In addition, the dip in the economy had led to mandatory contributions from the city into funds like the fire relief fund of almost a half a million dollars. In response a half a dozen positions within the city have been eliminated and another three are being considered as we reduce the 2011 budget by another 400,000-500,000 dollars. In addition the council has also purposed a reduction in their salary, making us among one of the lowest paid city councils for a city our size in the state. I will continue to work to watch the bottom line and live within our means in addition to prioritizing the public safety in our budget.