Q and A: Larson has four years down, four to go as mayor of FarmingtonTodd Larson wraps up his first term as mayor of Farmington next week, and will officially begin his second term at the Jan. 7 city council meeting. This week, mayor Larson talks to us about his first four years on the job.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Todd Larson wraps up his first term as mayor of Farmington next week, and will officially begin his second term at the Jan. 7 city council meeting.
Larson had never served on the city council prior to being elected, but had spent several years on the city’s planning commission. His first four years meant learning a lot of new things, as well as making some big decisions. This week, mayor Larson talks to us about his first four years on the job.
Is it everything you thought it was going to be?
And then some.
A lot more time involved than what I thought. It seems like there are things to do every single day.
What are the fun things you get to do in your role as mayor?
One thing I discovered is being mayor is a lot more fun outside of city hall than inside city hall. I really like going and speaking to Cub Scouting and sporting groups, and whoever. I went to a neighborhood in one of my first years and spoke to the kids and they weren’t even associated to a group, it was just a bunch of kids. It was a lot of fun.
I suppose part of what contributes to your time as mayor is hearing from residents. Do you get quite a few calls?
Not as much as I thought I would. It surprises me. I thought I would hear a lot more from people than I do. And it’s way more positive than negative when I do. It’s really been nice.
Back when you first became mayor, you had been on the planning commission, but you hadn’t been on council. There was a little bit of a learning curve back then.
On how to run a meeting?
Dirk (Rotty, planning commission chairman) was a good teacher. Often I would sit up there the first year and think, “What would Dirk do? How would Dirk handle this?”
So now you feel like you’ve got a pretty good handle on things.
Absolutely. The nerves went away after about the first four meetings. Now it’s fine. And it’s still a little confusing on how to handle certain situations. Like the budget this year. The budget gets amended at the last second, and we’re holding on both the levy and the budget. You can’t vote on the budget because the levy changed. What can you do? What can’t you do? Thank God for David (McKnight, city administrator) and legal counsel. I often turn to them and say, “Advice?”
Speaking of David, you ran against him four years ago, but now you’ve got him as the city administrator. Can you talk to me about your relationship?
We have an awesome working relationship. We’re able to talk things out, we’re able to kind of plan up in his office. And we’re able to shut the door and vent to each other, or about each other, and it goes no further, which is incredibly helpful. He’s been just a breath of fresh air.
Tell me a little about the biggest challenges you’ve encountered on council.
The biggest challenge is the lack of help from the state. I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago. We’ve gone through a lot in this state, with the unallotment of Market Value Homestead Credit, and having to include it in the budget anyway, knowing you weren’t going to get anything for it. And then with the total elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit and the reorganization, which put the burden on the commercial properties. The state has done Farmington no favors whatsoever.
Including the deputy registrar’s office, which I’m still irritated by. The state asked for public-private partnerships and we came up with a plan for that. It drives me crazy.
What about planning Farmington’s future? Is that kind of easier said than done?
It’s not hard at all if you get people who are willing play the game, but if you get people who aren’t willing to play, aren’t willing to look out past the immediate future, it can’t be done. I’m hoping this new council, with the addition of Doug (Bonar, council member-elect), we will be able to look out past the immediate future and come up with a strategic three year, five year, 10 year plan. I think it will make sitting at the dais and voting for the budget a heck of a lot easier, knowing that we are following a strategic plan that we all put together.
Are you looking forward to the next four years?
I am. I think Farmington is moving in a positive direction and it has been for a while. Not rapidly, but it is moving in a positive direction. I hear that from the business owners, who are excited with where Farmington has gone and is going to go. That’s encouraging.
When I was out campaigning, I think there were two residents, out of all of the doors I knocked on, who had something negative to say. Everyone else was really positive, and liked where Farmington is.