City council candidate, Ward 3: Tony Nelson
Name: Tony Nelson
Occupation: Finance Manager at Dakota County (Hastings Campus) for the last 12 years.
Education: Bachelors of Science in Accounting from UW-RF.
Family: Married for 20+ years to Teresa; Logan is a senior and Zachary is a sophomore at Hastings High School; and Ziggy (the family dog).
Civic Involvement: For the last eight years I have served on the Hastings City Council as the Ward 3 council member. I chair the Park & Recreation and the Utilities Council Committee. I am a member of the Finance and Operations Council Committee. Prior to that, I served on the Park & Recreation commission for two years. Member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.
Q: Why do you want to be on the city council? A: For the last eight years, I have been the Ward 3 Council Member. The reason why I originally ran was to be more active in my hometown and to continue on with the good work that retiring Council Member Riveness had done. I wanted to make sure that our tax dollars were wisely spent and that Hastings would retain its small town charm. I believe that we are now heading in the right direction as a city that went through some tough times with the recession, but we are still reducing the city’s tax rate with the 2017 budget.
Q: What is the most important issue the council needs to address? How would you address it? A: Transportation. Getting public transportation in Hastings will mean joining another taxing district, so we would see an increase in property taxes. However, I would have to see more want and need from my constituents before voting on this tax increase. We need to make sure:
1) We are getting proper transportation for the funding we are providing.
2) The transportation is being properly used, in/out of Hastings.
Recently, the city collaborated with DARTS to create The Loop where a bus runs one day a week around town. This allows folks without reliable transportation to get out and run errands/get to appointments.
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: Absolutely this process should continue! Development and redevelopment takes collaboration with many different partners with many different funding sources. We have to be thoughtful as to which tool is best for the job that needs to be accomplished and not afraid to use those tools. Examples of using different tools to redevelop unsightly areas: The Napa building on 15th and Vermillion — we used to have the old Clark gas station until we agreed to use TIF to redevelop this site. The Hudson building — the city had to purchase the property, sell it to the developer for $1, and use TIF.
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: The city is in strong fiscal shape. I have sat on the Finance Committee for the last six years, so I have helped shape the direction of the budget, and I am quite proud of the hard work that is done on an annual basis. Our tax rate is down 7 percent over the last four years.
I wish that roads wouldn’t need to be replaced and our equipment would never break down. However, that is not reality. I help make those tough choices every year as to what equipment can be replaced and if any new initiatives can be funded.
Q: In 2014, a city-funded community survey identified drugs and youth crime as two of the most pressing public safety issue here. How can the city effectively address these concerns? A: Collaboration is the key here. The city has an officer in the schools to help mentor the youth. We must continue to work with and in some cases provide funding for: Helping Kids Succeed — The Hastings Way, Hastings Area United Way, YMCA and others.
Development. We must work with businesses to provide activities and places for our youth to go.
Youth athletic complex. Providing a nice complex would help expand our athletic programming.
Police. We have a great police force and we must remain vigilant against drugs. We must continue to work with Dakota County Drug Task Force.