County commissioner, District 1 - Christy Jo FogartyHere is a profile on Christy Jo Fogarty, who is running for the vacant Dakota County commissioner seat in District 1, which serves the Hastings area.
Q: Give us some background information, including how long you have been a resident of Hastings, your education, job position, community service and your previous and current connection with government.
A: I have lived in Dakota County for 13 years. I currently work for Children’s Dental Services in NE Minneapolis, a non-profit dental clinic where I work as one of the first dental therapists in the country. Prior to that I worked as a dental hygienist at the New Art of Dentistry in Hastings. I have a BS in Dental Hygiene and a MS as an Oral Health Practitioner. I have been a member of the Farmington City Council for the last 10 years, and have also been the Metropolitan Cities representative on the Board of Water and Soil Resources since being appointed by Governor Pawlenty in 2009. I was also recently appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court to represent District 1 on the Commission for Judicial Review, making recommendations to the governor on judicial appointments from Hastings to Waconia. I have also dedicated myself to volunteer work across the County helping with the Dakota Village, serving on the Dew Days Committee as the Chair of the Miss, Jr. Miss, and Little Miss Farmington Pageant, and volunteering at several events at the Dakota County Fair, including being an annual Salsa judge! I have also served on the Vermillion River Planning Commission, the water vulnerability task force, the park and recreation task force, the Empire/Farmington Planning Committee and the Castle Rock Discussion Group.
On a personal note I have been married for almost 19 years to my husband Steve and we have three teenage children in the Farmington schools.
Q: Why did you decide to run for this position?
A: I have loved serving on the Farmington city council for the last 10 years and in that role I have developed a larger sense of community. As I served on joint committees with surrounding townships and cities and worked in Hastings, I discovered what an amazing county we live in and it created a desire to serve in a higher capacity. With Commissioner Harris retiring from his position on the Board I have an opportunity to serve at such a higher level.
Q: What are the major issues facing Dakota County?
A: One of the biggest concerns Dakota County and its communities is facing is tough economic times along with the rest of the country. When cities and counties are filing for bankruptcy it is increasingly important to ensure government is living within its means and coming up with innovative ways to deliver high quality services in efficient ways. Economic stability and development are the most important issues communities are facing, including those in Dakota County. These issues affect virtually every part of local government from taxes to transportation to parks. Dakota County needs to continue to expand its economic growth and pair it with wise use of taxpayers’ dollars. Fortunately, Dakota County is blessed with a well educated workforce, excellent natural resources, and an abundance of open/undeveloped land near two major metropolitan cities. Maintaining a high quality of life, with high quality housing, parks, and natural resources, combined with low taxes, will ensure economic development thrives in Dakota County.
Q: How should they be addressed?
A: There are many ways to address these issues including collaboration with other agencies to decrease costs, working with legislators to decrease outdated and costly mandates, and evaluating each department to look for new ways to do business. For example, can departments be combined to be more efficient? Can we help new business streamline needed approvals and permits to help them open their doors faster and with less expense? These are ideas we have incorporated in Farmington to decrease costs and help business owners. As a council member I was also able to be a part of creating the Dakota County Communication Center which is an example not only held statewide, but nationwide, as what great collaboration is between government entities. In addition, I was part of the collaboration with Apple Valley and Lakeville to improve ambulance service by outsourcing it to a private company. This is an example of the type of open-mindedness that is needed to ensure high quality services and lower costs.
Q: With ongoing budget constraints, including less federal and state funds, is the county handling its programs/services and staffing in the right way?
A: I think with the high quality of life, and the lowest taxes of any county in the state, there is a lot that Dakota County is doing right. However, within every organization there is room for improvement and a need to continually examine the County’s requirements in a constantly changing world. With the increase in technology we can always ask ourselves how we can utilize technology to increase efficiency and decrease costs. Using technology like LIDAR, a topographic mapping of the land in Dakota County, has saved time and money in creating necessary environmental and platting information as well as helping to define flood plains more accurately. Another simple but easy way technology has been utilized was going paperless in the city of Farmington. Even this small change has saved the City thousands of dollars in staff time and paper.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for this position?
A: I have the necessary experience and background which means I can hit the ground running. My record shows years of a solid common sense approach to government and a dedication to the people I serve. I am also well versed in this district. I have lived and served in Farmington for over 14 years, and I worked Hastings for over five of those years. I have also served on joint planning committees with both Castle Rock and Empire Townships. I served as the President of the PTO in Hampton for St. Mathias Catholic School and have a broad understanding of the challenges and assets of the most diverse district in the County. In addition, I have the experience of working in public health and have the background to understand and contribute to the health and human services area of the county.