County commissioner - Terry Donnelly
Q: Please provide us with some background information, including your education, job position, community service and any previous or current connection with government.
A: 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 sixth 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.
Q: Why did you decide to run for this position?
A: 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.
Q: 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?
A: 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.
A: 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.
Q: With ongoing budget constraints, how does the county continue to meet the needs of a growing population while continuing its standard of services?
A: 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.
Q: Why should people vote for you?
A: People should vote for me because I am personable, approachable and a great listener. I don’t talk unless I have something 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.