Voters will narrow county commissioner field in primary
Please provide us with some background information, including your education, job position, community service and any previous or current connection with government. My name is Terry Donnelly, and I am a lifelong resident of both Dakota County and Farmington. I have experienced the growing pains of both the city and county firsthand. My education includes graduating from Farmington High School. Following high school, I attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Quantitative Methods. I earn my living as a software engineer and a farmer. My wife Debbie and I have been married for 39 years and we have six wonderful children. I am active in my church and our 4-H club. Currently, I am in my 6th year as a member of the Farmington City Council. Before being elected to the Farmington City Council, I served as a member of the Farmington Area School Board for seven years.
Why did you decide to run for this position? I have been active in my local government for the past 13 years and I see being your District 1 County Commissioner as a logical next step. District 1 is especially suited to my strengths and experience. I have been closely involved in the issues facing city government for many years which gives me the experience to understand the problems facing the district’s two largest cities of Hastings and Farmington. I can also understand the concerns being faced by the township residents. Part of my understanding of the issues facing the townships comes from my service on the Farmington Area School Board since the Farmington School District includes Empire, Castle Rock, and Eureka townships. Owning and operating farmland in many of the townships within the district also helps me understand what is going in the townships because I face many of the same problems as the township residents.
What are the major issues and challenges facing Dakota County? How should they be addressed? Is the county doing a good job for its residents? As a land owner in the county, I am concerned about maintaining the proper balance between land owner rights and the mounting pressure created by the public needs for some of that same land. There are times when the public need seems to outweigh the rights of the property owners. This issue can be addressed by carefully listening to both sides of each issue as it arises and being willing to compromise to reach a fair outcome for both sides. I am also concerned that, over the past couple of years, the property tax burden on agricultural land has risen dramatically. Carefully watching the county budget is the best way to control the rising taxes on agricultural land and all property owners in general.
With ongoing budget constraints, how does the continue to meet the needs of a growing population while continuing its standard of services? As a member of the Farmington City Council I have seen how the county/city cost split on road projects stresses the budget of the local communities. I would like to see the county pick up a bigger share of the cost of county/city road projects to ease the pressure on the local taxpayer. The county has a much larger pool of taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden of these big projects. I realize doing this would have an impact on the county budget, but adjusting the split in a phased manner would allow the county time to adjust.
Overall, I believe the county is doing a good job meeting the needs of its residents but there is always room for improvement.
With ongoing budget constraints, how does the continue to meet the needs of a growing population while continuing its standard of services? As a member of a city council and a school board I have had to face the problem of providing the services the public needs with a limited amount of resources many times. Each budget cycle, the county board must decide between needs and wants. There are essential services that the county must provide to its residents and then there are programs and services that must be considered on their own merits. There will always be tough choices and not everyone will agree with every decision made. While making these tough decisions, one must always keep in mind where the money comes from, the taxpayers. Nothing is free.
Why should people vote for you? People should vote for me because I am personable, approachable, and a great listener. I don’t talk unless I have some useful to say. I feel my greatest strength is my common sense attitude and approach to problem solving. I won’t make promises I can’t keep but I will promise that any decision I make as a county commissioner would be made with the best interest of the county and District 1 at heart. I can’t promise that I will raise your property values. I can’t promise that I will vote no on any issue that might raise taxes. I can’t promise that I will lower your taxes. I won’t make these kinds of promises because I couldn’t keep them. Most importantly, I will promise to work tirelessly to move Dakota County forward and make this a county we can all continue to be proud of.
Please provide us with some background information, including your education, job position, community service and any previous or current connection with government. I was born and raised in Dakota County. I graduated from Farmington High School in 1978 as a member of the National Honor Society. I attended Golden Valley Lutheran College for one year and then went into the road construction, commercial earth moving trade. I continued my education at Hennepin Technical College and Dakota County Vo-tech and completed the University of MN LTAP roads scholar technical program in 2007.
I started my own business in 1988 primarily township road maintenance. In that capacity, I have advised town board supervisors in annual and long term budgets, adoption of town ordinances and road registration and right-of-way management. In addition, I have acted as township representative for the 2008 MinnCan oil pipeline project and 2013 CapX2020 power line project protecting town infrastructure and roads.
I have sat on several county watershed advisory committees and started the local Pheasants Forever Chapter in 1996.I currently am serving my second term as a director on the Dakota County Fair Board and was recently appointed to the Vermillion Watershed Joint Powers Organization Planning Commission.
Why did you decide to run for this position? I have made my living off public money for years and I recognize that people expect good service for the taxes they pay. I believe in protecting public money and ensuring the trust of the average citizen. I made the decision to run for county commissioner because I feel I can be a good steward of public money and restore trust in local government.
What are the major issues and challenges facing Dakota County? How should they be addressed? Is the county doing a good job for its residents? Dakota County is somewhat unique in that it has two faces, an urban suburban setting in the north and a rural agriculture based economy in the south. One issue we face is protecting property rights in the rural areas while protecting quality and availability of water for all citizens. The county in general has done a good job in land stewardship and quality of roads. Health and human services are some of the best in the state.
With ongoing budget constraints, how does the continue to meet the needs of a growing population while continuing its standard of services? County government must strive to recruit the best possible employees and outside vendors. Good services stem from a good work force and updated tools and equipment. Careful analysis of costs and use of outside funding sources such as Federal and State money should ensure continued good services and upgrading of infrastructure.
Why should people vote for you? Throughout my life, I have listened to and valued other people’s opinions. I have served Dakota County residents and many volunteer organizations here for over 20 years. I am an active participant in our community with a strong record of service to others working with diverse groups of people to accomplish community goals, I value a strong work ethic and will put in the extra time and effort to be an honest representative for all people in Dakota County. I will sincerely listen to you and be available to hear your ideas and concerns. I will work so your tax dollars are spent wisely and conservatively to maintain your trust in your local government! You will see my honesty and integrity in respecting citizen’s rights to their land and personal property. I believe in representative government by the people, for the people!
Please provide us with some background information, including your education, job position, community service and any previous or current connection with government. I was born and raised in Hastings and have been a resident of Hastings for more than 34 years. I am a graduate of Hastings High School and I have a B.A. in Political Science from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN. I am a realtor with Keystone Real Estate in Hastings and I am part-owner and president of Hometown Laundry, LLC. My wife, Maria (Werner) and I are active members of the Hastings and greater Dakota County community. I am currently the president of the Hastings High School Alumni Association, and past chair of the Hastings Area YMCA Community Board.
I was elected to the Dakota County Board of Commissioners in 2012. I currently serve as Vice Chair of the Dakota County CDA, Chair of the Vermillion River Watershed, and Treasurer of the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Dakota Communication Center (the consolidated 911 center for all of Dakota County), the Dakota County Extension Committee, the Cannon River Watershed Partnership Board, the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District Board, and the Red Rock Corridor Commission. Prior to my election to the Dakota County Board, I served six years as an At Large Member of the Hastings City Council.
Why did you decide to run for this position? I am running for re-election because I want to continue to work hard for the residents of District 1 in Dakota County. From advocating for important investments in transportation and infrastructure, to voting to reduce the2014 property tax levy, I have established a record of strong leadership and a commitment to the people, businesses, and issues that are important to the district. I greatly enjoy serving District 1 and I am proud of the many ways I have been able to support residents and businesses in my first term. In the next four years, the county will continue to face a new generation of challenges and I represent a unique mix of private and public sector skills that can meet those challenges.
What are the major issues and challenges facing Dakota County? How should they be addressed? Is the county doing a good job for its residents? Dakota County has a long-standing tradition of supporting opportunities for residents and businesses to thrive. In order for this to continue, the county board must ensure good use of taxpayer dollars by reducing debt, ensuring high-quality taxpayer investments, and keeping property taxes low. Dakota County is a large county with an extensive transportation system. The county must have a comprehensive transportation plan that safely and efficiently moves residents to and from work, promotes the accessibility necessary for small and large businesses to stay competitive, and serves the needs of our agricultural community. Economic development efforts must also include a commitment to the agricultural economy in District 1, through the preservation of farmland, infrastructure investments, and ensuring that regulations are not overly burdensome. The county must also ensure responsible management of our natural resources, through efforts to keep our lakes and rivers clean for both current use and for future generations.
With ongoing budget constraints, how does the continue to meet the needs of a growing population while continuing its standard of services? In order to address ongoing budget pressures, the county must start with good fiscal management. As a Dakota County commissioner, I am committed to making good use of taxpayer dollars. I have voted to reduce county debt ahead of schedule and ensure that high-quality taxpayer investments are made, while still having one of the lowest property tax levies per capita in the state. At the same time, bold leadership and vision is necessary to find ways to do county business more effectively and efficiently. Dakota County is held in high regard by other counties around the state and nation because the county has been able to implement some truly innovative initiatives to streamline county government through the use of technology and collaboration. This approach is increasingly necessary as growing and aging populations create a greater demand for county resources.
Why should people vote for you? In my first term, I have been a strong advocate for the residents of District 1. I voted for a reduction to the 2014 tax levy, individual property rights, good financial stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and transportation investments that improve both safety and commerce in District 1. I have also been actively engaged with residents and the leadership of all 22 townships and cities in the district on important issues. I have the knowledge and experience necessary to serve the diverse needs of this district, and I have proven my dedication and commitment to represent this district well.