LINO LAKES — Four candidates are hoping they will gain voter support this November to become the next leader of Lino Lakes.
Candidates Pat Davern, Ashley Antus, Rob Rafferty and Tony Cavegn all shared why they think Lino Lakes is great and how it can improve during a candidate forum hosted by North Metro TV Sept. 17.
After one minute introductions, the questions began.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Lino Lakes right now?
Antus said the biggest issues are road construction, parks and businesses. “I think we have to focus on attaining more businesses while keeping a small-town feel. ... I think I could bring a lot of good businesses here.”
Over the years, Rafferty said, the main challenges have remained the same. “The reality is that business is important to diversify the tax rates and yet at the same time, businesses can’t come in unless we have the rooftops.”
Cavegn said the main issues he would like to focus on include business development, infrastructure, public safety and the city’s budget. “We have several roads that are decaying and need to be replaced or repaired,” he said. “The budget is always something that needs to be looked at to make sure that we have a long-term plan in place that works for everyone.”
Davern noted that although infrastructure — specifically roads — is an issue, he thinks it is important to prioritize and manage growth. “Managed growth is very important, to make sure that there is not an overrun in growth,” he said, “making sure that we have a managed and controlled growth and prioritization of projects.”
What are the biggest opportunities for the City Council and the city with this change of leadership?
Rafferty said he didn’t foresee any changes happening. “As a council member, I’ve worked extremely hard to get the things in place that we have,” he said. “We are covering the city with all community aspects as far as safety concerns, we are working on roads, we are working on parks and trails, but all of these things cost money and if we don’t keep things under control, taxes are going to go up — so we have to watch it.”
With the leadership change, Cavegn said he felt there were more opportunities to create a dialogue with other entities. “I want to reconnect with our citizens, open a dialogue up again with our neighboring cities and our schools. I think there is a wealth of knowledge in those groups, and maybe we have been missing out on that information,” he said.
Davern would like to see more communication with citizens. “We need a fresh set of eyes to be able to see those bigger problems and say, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t need to solve this with a sledgehammer, we need to see if we can solve it diplomatically and work with everybody in the community.’”
Antus said the biggest opportunity for Lino Lakes will be listening to the community. “The people who work for Lino Lakes have done an amazing job so far, the City Council is doing a great job, but I still think there is more we can do to focus on our citizens and to give them what they want,” she said.
What do you think people who live and work in Lino Lakes want to see from city government?
Antus said she has mostly heard about roads and the lack of communication on ongoing road construction projects that cause a lot of headaches for citizens.
Rafferty explained the city engineer, WSB, has improved in its efforts to get the message out about projects, but some of the projects are completed by the county— for example, Birch Street. “A construction project is a difficult thing to do; you are restricted by weather and so many things. At the same time, if you stay on top of it and let people understand what the plan is, you are having more success, and we are finding that out.”
Cavegn said the residents want to feel like they are involved in decisions. “I think a lot of people feel like decisions are made without the opportunity to provide input. I believe that they feel when they do provide input, it falls on deaf ears,” he said. “… I think what the community is looking for is transparency and the ability to have their voice heard.”
Davern said a couple concerns he has heard about are roads and taxes. “What I would like to see is a stronger working relationship with Anoka County and the Minnesota Legislature to be able to move those projects forward and possibly help with funding for those,” he said.
The candidates were also asked about how Lino Lakes can capitalize on bringing big industry in through the Minnesota Technology Corridor, what it would take to bring more retail and dining options to the city and what they envision Lino Lakes will look like 20 years from now. To see the full candidate forum, visit northmetrotv.com/.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com