City council candidate, Ward 2: Adam Estenson
Name: Adam Estenson
Occupation: Family Business operator with Perfekt, Inc. and Transportation Terminal Supervisor with Minnesota Coaches/Hastings Bus Company
Education: HHS Graduate 2004 and B.S. Land Use Planning UW-RF
Family: Wife (Carrie), Daughters (Lilly, 5, Olivia, 8 months)
Civic involvement: Former youth representative on SEAS Pastoral council. President of home owners association. Sixth year Planning Commissioner. Third year Planning Commission Chairman.
Q: Why do you want to be on City Council? A: My goal is to drive engagement with the citizens of Hastings. This starts with a listening ear. If I get elected, I still represent the people that didn’t vote for me and I owe them the time of day. There is nothing wrong with revisiting issues from the past. People are not time capsules. People change, as does the world we live in. By bringing neighbors together, especially those that may not agree, we get open and honest dialog. This brings the best ideas to the forefront. This is the collaboration that leads to innovation, which leads to community growth.
Q: What is the most important issue the council needs to address? How would you address it? A: The council needs to take a hard look at how it interacts with the businesses in Hastings. We need to do everything in our power to keep our businesses here in town. We need to foster the growth of our local businesses to create more jobs and attract other companies. I would address this issue by asking hard questions: are we treating businesses equally no matter their size? Are we stifling business by demanding that our job creators carry a disproportionate burden of fees and taxes? Can, in certain instances, the city do better by just stepping out of the way?
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: When it comes to historic, condemned or infill commercial projects, it may be necessary for a city to get involved. However, I am hesitant to say that a city can do well at being both a city and a developer. My concern is that a city may have difficulty being impartial. Electing sound council members is so important for this reason. Our role is to provide a safe and healthy place for people to live, which creates an environment that fosters the personal growth of its citizens and resident businesses.
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: To my knowledge, our city staff does a good job of living within their means, and our city’s budget is sound. Property taxes have come down as the tax capacity has risen. That being said, I would like to see that we are servicing old debt in an appropriate fashion. The answer is not hiking up our fees on development, which may or may not occur. This only discourages additional growth and undermines the tax base. The question is, can we do better to ensure our taxes and fees are in line to help grow our community? I think we can.
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: Our current Chief of Police has done a great job of being proactive. The drug problem is not just a law enforcement problem. It is an addiction problem and it is also the family that needs healing. It involves the entire community, including police, EMS, the schools, the churches and the neighborhood. It takes a village to curtail youth crime. In most situations the authority becomes the bad guy and parents do their best to protect their child. We should, instead, stand together with empathy for the youth and their mistakes while helping them to cope with their consequences.
Estenson also offered the following disclosure:
"I am employed by Minnesota Coaches/Hastings Bus Company of which Pat Regan is owner. As you know, Mr. Regan is also a partner in the Great Rivers Landing development. My job duties are outside of this project. We have gone to great lengths to ensure we are open about this fact. I have recused myself from all matter involving this project on the Planning Commission to eliminate any conflict of interest."