Spring Grove Council Candidate, Rachel Storlie
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7:29 AM
Six candidates are seeking two positions on the Spring Grove City Council. Incumbents Steve Kemp and Rachel Storlie face challengers Nancy Nelson, Rachel Olerud, Dave Peterson and Roger Taylor. They all responded to the questionnaire from the Spring Grove Herald. Below are their responses listed in alphabetical order. Each response was limited to 150 words.
Rachel Storlie, age 34
1.) Please tell us about yourself and why you are running for office?
I moved to Spring Grove after falling in love with David Storlie in 2008. I am a performing artist, teacher, experimental chef and photographer, and community volunteer. I feel that I bring a fresh perspective to the council because of my involvement in the lives of our school children and their parents through music and theater. I hear the struggles and triumphs of our city's young people as they navigate into their futures of budgets, child-rearing, goals, and dreams. David and I also hope to bring our own child(ren) into this fantastic community someday! We highly value Spring Grove's many opportunities for well-rounded living and growing. I am running for office because it is important for me to do my fair share in preserving and protecting the businesses, organizations, groups and offering of services that cemented my family's decision (and many others) of settling down in this town.
2.) The Main Street project has seen its share of controversy. As a member of the current council that is proposing the improvements, tell readers why you feel so strongly that this project should move forward as proposed.
As I weighed our options and formed decisions about the Main Street project over the past two years, I saw the importance of keeping a forward-thinking, open mind. To me, this is a no-brainer. We get free money from MnDOT to tackle a project that has been in the pipeline for years! We can currently benefit from historically low interest rates, and fix our sewer system while the road is already torn up!
Former councils realized the need of this project long ago, and we have had the perfect opportunity to follow through on their vision by putting in the hours of discussion, community involvement, environmental testing, engineering studies and planning needed to get the job done well. I cannot think of a better way to provide a safer Main Street or a more efficient and technologically sound infrastructure to our children and their children.
3.) How do you feel the city has done the last year on transparency and is there any room for improvement?
Transparency is a (deservedly) hot-button issue in the business and government sectors, as we live in a time when corporate greed and corruption lurk in boardrooms behind certain closed doors. However, our council is committed to upholding the integrity of the democratic process while following fiscally practical guidelines for publishing. Mayor Solum and Administrator Coleman know the protocol for posting our meetings on the city's bulletin board at City Hall, and also notify citizens via the newspaper, our monthly newsletter (found in your utility bill) and the Post Office. I enthusiastically applauded our step to videotape the council meetings and air them live on TV. We also recently decided to publish more information on the city website as well-a great improvement for these changing times! Feel free to request any information up at City Hall, by individual visit or with a phone call.
4.) Do you feel that the city needs to look at reducing its current budget, and if so, what areas would you look at cutting?
Throughout my two years of service to this city, I have been continuously impressed by the department heads, the City Administrator, Mayor Solum and our council's ability to work together in order to maintain a nice offering of services to our community. We are fortunate to have so many talented, practical, and capable people maintaining their budgets in a responsible manner. Sure, there is always room to look deeper into the budget and make sure that we are staying on track with fiscally responsible decisions-but at what cost? We must not take for granted the services that keep our streets safe, our toilets running, our citizens well-read, our parks beautiful and our Main Street viable. With hard work, we can continue balancing this budget while preparing for the future. I am proud to say we are headed toward a zero percent levy increase for 2013 without having sacrificed too much!
5.) What accomplishments are you most proud of from your current tenure?
The things that I am most proud of are the following: 1) The Main Street project. We have done our best to make some very important decisions while weighing in public input, business interests, and good common sense. I look forward to seeing the results of this hard work by so many come to fruition. 2) The Capital Improvement Plan. We are setting up a save-to-pay culture at City Hall! People have been criticized since the dawn of commerce for their seeming inability to plan for the future. Our council has worked to develop a plan that does not prompt people to utter that adage "hindsight is 20/20" in upcoming decades. 3) Celebrating and promoting our community's heritage! A strong asset of Spring Grove is our Norwegian heritage. I applaud and support our council's efforts of providing fun, safe and educational celebrations in honor of our city's cultural legacy.
6.) If re-elected, what are the top three issues you want to see addressed in the next four years?
Life is not getting cheaper-not in the city or country. Small government is going to have to really think outside of the box to survive the cuts from programs like Local Government Aid. I will research possibilities for sharing resources between area cities and examine alternatives for locally-produced energy. In order to keep our tax base growing, our community has to continually evaluate our attractability to passers-by, transplants and the home crowd. There is room for growth in the cultural tourism sector that we should capitalize upon-anchored in our Nordic roots, our fabulous pop factory and other attractions. Finally, we need to nurture and support our local job sector, whether led by seasoned managers or start-ups. By coordinating the efforts of a leadership group comprised of the city, EDA, Friends of the Library and Spring Grove Communications, I hope to help establish new ways of encouraging entrepreneurship in our great city!