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City council candidate, Ward 3: Lisa Leifeld

Name: Lisa Leifeld

Age: 48

Occupation: Hastings Wells Fargo Bank service manager

Education: Inver Hills Community College

Family: Two children, five step-children

Civic involvement: HYAA youth coach, City of Hastings recreation volunteer, fundraising for United Way.

Q: Why do you want to be on the city council? A: The people of Hastings mean everything to me, so serving my hometown on the Hastings City Council would be an incredible honor if given the opportunity. I believe that Hastings is a great city full of promise that would benefit from my private-sector business experience, volunteer work, new ideas and fresh perspective.

If I’m fortunate enough to serve, I’ll be an advocate for residents and business owners. I will work hard to listen to the thoughts, concerns and ideas of those I’m elected to represent and ensure that our city government is a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

Q: What is the most important issue the council needs to address? How would you address it? A: As our city’s elected representatives, the Hastings City Council must partner with our city staff to encourage more two-way communication with our business community and residents. There needs to be a sense that we are all on the same team, working together for the benefit of everyone in Hastings.

In addition to enhancing relationships the city has with local business owners and residents, we must continue reaching out to the Hastings Chamber of Commerce and the Hastings school district. The success of each partner directly relates to the success of all others.

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: Local governments are most helpful when they create and foster an environment where both businesses and residents can thrive and not be overburdened by fees, regulations and taxes.

Hastings City Hall should never be seen as a roadblock to economic development, but rather as an advocate for moving our community forward — and as a willing and helpful partner with those who choose to invest here, create new jobs and expand our local economy. We must create a welcoming atmosphere that encourages new businesses to locate here, and proactively spread the word about the great community we call home.

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: Regarding the city’s budget, I favor taking a conservative approach to finances that doesn’t assume our revenue will continue to come in at its current rate. We should also allow for the potential loss of Local Government Aid (LGA) payments from the state that have been unreliable over the years.

I believe we need to focus our efforts on generating revenue by bringing more businesses and good-paying jobs into town, rather than expecting those already here to pay more. Cities that budget conservatively and plan ahead are much better prepared to weather inevitable economic downturns.

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: One of my three priorities is to create more opportunities for Hastings youth. Our young people are the future of our community, and they need to feel like they have a stake in decisions we make today. Part of the answer starts with parents who get involved with their kids and take the time to raise them into responsible adults. We must also listen to their perspectives, and hear what they think about issues. For example, we should select a young person from our Youth in Government program to serve as a non-voting representative at our city council meetings.