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City council candidate, Ward 1: Tina Folch

Name: Tina Folch

Age: 45

Occupation: Local Government Finance and Contracting, City of Red Wing

Education: Masters in Public Administration, Hamline University School of Business; BA in Political Science, College of St. Catherine. I am also a certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO), Project Manager (PMP), Business Continuity Professional (BCPA) and Emergency Manager (MnCEM)

Family: Two sons, Brenden, age 12, and Chase, age 15

Civic involvement: Served on the Cottage Grove Planning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee for three years. In addition, I served as an appointed volunteer to the Cedar Avenue Corridor Transit Way Study Commission. For the past two years, I have been volunteering as a Confirmation Teacher at Our Savior’s.

Q: Why do you want to be on the city council? A: What matters most to me is that Hastings is safe, vibrant and friendly for both families and businesses. I am genuinely concerned about the needs of our neighborhoods and want to increase opportunities for community members to feel connected. Furthermore, I decided to run when I realized only two of the seven council seats are occupied by women and none appear to be of diverse backgrounds. Our elected bodies should reflect the populations they serve, which means women and minorities need to get involved. As a homegrown working mom, I realized I need to take the time to be involved.

Q: What is the most important issue the council needs to address? How would you address it? A: Across Ward 1, people agree that we need to breathe new life into the Highway 61 gateways into our community, from the northern and southern approaches, for all to see that our community is welcoming and vibrant. Although the city currently has plans to conduct a Vermillion Corridor Study again in 2017, I think we should create two task forces that consist of the business owners, residents and city representatives to strategically identify action items for near and long-term implementation in these areas. To recruit new business development, we need to first improve the right-of-ways and set higher standards to increase curb appeal.

Q: The city has been a partner for a few major development projects recently. Is this a practice the city should continue? Why or why not? A: Without a doubt, the city has a major role to play in the development of sensitive project sites to ensure that the long-term strategic vision of community leaders is able to become reality. For instance, land which is considered a “brownfield” that has been polluted from previous industrial use is sometimes too costly for a private business to rehabilitate on their own. City staff are able to work with the state to obtain grants for site decontamination and offer incentives to entice developers. A prime example is Hudson Manufacturing, which had an added element of being a historic site.

Q: What is your opinion on the city’s current fiscal status? What aspects of the city budget, if any, would you like to change? A: As a finance and administration professional with 20 years of experience practicing fiscal responsibility in government, I believe our city has been doing an excellent job at managing taxpayer dollars. However, I support providing more funding to the Hastings P.D. for community policing efforts to be implemented. I spoke to many residents in Ward 1 who reported having vehicles broken into and concern about road safety. When I spoke to Chief Schafer, he said that his unit of officers is down yet from the economic recession of 2008 and he would support adding officers as they are needed.

Q: In 2014, a city-funded community survey identified drugs and youth crime as two of the most pressing public safety issues here. How can the city effectively address these concerns? A: To combat drugs and crime, the first line of defense should be strengthened neighborhoods. I would like to see the city take more progressive steps to increase citizen engagement. As I mentioned previously, a new community police liaison could develop neighborhood networks to conduct grassroots policing within the city. Also, I would like to see our community strengthened through utilizing communication technology, such as “Nextdoor,” which is a social media site for neighborhoods to stay connected. New communication technology can help provide a low-cost opportunity for police and neighbors to stay informed about problems and combat them as they arise.