City council - Joanna Bayers
Q: Please provide us with some background information, including your education, job position, community service and any previous or current connection with government.
A: I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I played on the women’s college hockey team, participated in the National Mock Trial competition, completed an internship for Congressman Jim Oberstar in his Duluth and Washington D.C. offices and traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2004 to study the aftermath of the war.
I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership in 2008 from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, co-managed Jeff Anderson’s campaign for the Duluth City Council-At Large position and completed an internship for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS). After completing my degree, I worked for MOFAS as a Special Projects Coordinator where I played a major role in successfully passing legislation related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
I moved to Hastings in 2010, when I purchased my first home. I have served on the Public Safety Advisory Commission since 2011 and I currently work for the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Q: Why did you decide to run for this position?
A: I want to ensure Hastings continues to be a welcoming community for businesses and all who live here now or may in the future. We live in a unique area that provides a variety of recreational opportunities as well as conveniences that allow residents to want to stay here and also attracts visitors wanting to check out what we have to offer. I want to make sure we continue to be the best place to live and visit. Being a part of the Hastings City Council would allow me the opportunity to make sure this happens.
Q: What are the major issues facing the City of Hastings? How should they be addressed? Is there an area (or areas) that needs special attention?
A: Hastings is in need of a public transportation system to accommodate those who need to travel within our city as well as connect to other communities. Having transportation options for those commuting to work outside of Hastings may be a good incentive for families who are looking to relocate. With our aging population, public transportation may allow them to stay at home longer and provide an opportunity to continue to be independent. We can certainly benefit from their experiences so limiting their participation in town hall, council and public safety meetings, can have a detrimental effect on our community.
The current staffing level for our public safety department is also a concern. With the increase of police, fire and medical calls each year, we need to ensure our public safety department is fully staffed in order to respond to all emergencies. Our department does a wonderful job with supporting and receiving support from near by communities, however every second counts when a public safety issue arises.
Our current decline in school enrollment should be a concern for the city and the school board. We need to ensure we can provide the best education to our students by keeping classes’ small and offering a variety of opportunities and experiences.
Q: How should the city attract new businesses and/or industries, resulting in more jobs and increasing the tax base? How should we compete with other cities?
A: Hastings needs to take a proactive approach and have a complete marketing plan. With my background and job experience, I have the knowledge it takes to help develop Hastings’ economy.
In order to compete with other cities, we need to be proactive and reach out to businesses that would benefit our community. A survey should be conducted to determine what type of businesses and services we need. By working in a partnership between businesses, our community and its leaders, we can move forward to a prosperous future.
Q: What makes Hastings a good city in which to live/work?
A: The strong community connection makes Hastings a great place to live and work. I grew up in the small town of Ely in northeastern Minnesota and attended college in Duluth. Since the winters were brutal, moving a bit south was a desirable goal. I searched for a town to settle in that had the small town atmosphere with small town values that were familiar to me. A place where I could drive my snowmobile, hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors with the conveniences of shopping and employment. When I first drove over the bridge, I felt an instant connection.
Q: Why should people vote for you?
A: I believe what makes a good candidate for city council is not only the ideas and drive of the person but his or her character and integrity. While growing up, I played on Ely’s high school hockey team. Aside from being the first girl to play on the boys’ varsity team with its many challenges, it instilled in me the values of loyalty and teamwork. As the only girl on the team, my motivation and determination led to my success.
While working for local, state, and federal representatives, I was able to demonstrate the qualities needed to be a good leader. I learned that listening, negotiating, and knowing when to compromise is as important to a community as it is to a team. Leadership, determination and effective team work is what I will bring to the city council. I would appreciate your vote on Aug. 12 and Nov. 4.