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City council candidate, Ward 4: Danna Elling Schultz

Name: Danna Elling Schultz

Age: 58

Occupation: Education Researcher, Minnesota State Senate

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Minnesota.

Family: Husband Doug Schultz; daughters Libby, 25, and Abby, 22.

Civic involvement: Hastings City Council representative, Ward 4; council representative, HEDRA and council representative, Hastings Cable TV board; member Hastings Women’s Tennis League, current League secretary; member St. Philip’s Lutheran Church; contributing member Black Dirt Theater; member Hastings Heart ReStart.

Q: Why do you want to be on the city council? A: I want to continue my service as we move forward at a very exciting time. Between 2009 and 2012 we faced serious budget constraints and were only able to maintain the status quo. As the economy has grown, we have been able to invest in our riverfront, our parks and provided opportunities for business and housing growth which has brought in more families and visitors to Hastings. With the new bridge in place, now is the time for us to work with businesses and residents on a re-vamp of Vermillion Street, which can be a benefit to our community and promote tourism.

Q: What is the most important issue the council needs to address? How would you address it? A: We need to continue to work on economic development issues, but we need a three-pronged approach: continued business incentives that helped develop the Hudson Building, River Lofts, that brought Cranky Ape world headquarters here, HEDRA focus on bringing a high tech business park to our town and collaboration with business and community groups on an update of Vermillion Street. Second, we need to promote Hastings as we bring on board a new economic development director and with our Tourism Bureau. Third, maintain quality infrastructure services and enhance recreational opportunities that will bring new residents and families to Hastings.

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: Yes. The city has partnered successfully recently in a number of ways including the Rotary for the new riverfront Pavilion, with Artspace on the new River Lofts and with Confluence Development on the old Hudson site to name just a few. The city, through HEDRA, has also partnered with smaller projects which have brought new businesses and jobs to Hastings including Breakaway Arts, the Hastings Arts Center, Carlson Capital Management and the NAPA building. However, we must carefully study each project to make sure that the city’s involvement is warranted and appropriate.

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 fiscal status of the city is strong; we have a AA bond rating and decreasing tax rate. Our local government aid allotment from the state should be more reliable so we could count on it to help us maintain a stable budget each year. Currently, the legislative process doesn’t provide us with predictable numbers until we have started our process, and as is the case this year, provided no additional funding for Hastings. The good news is that Hastings doesn’t use this unstable funding source for ongoing costs, but knowing the aid allotment in advance would be helpful.

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: The city must partner with other law enforcement agencies, such as the Dakota County Drug Task Force to help address drug-related crimes. We must also work with other agencies including the school district, United Way, YMCA, Hastings Family Service and other organizations to help address other drug crime and youth crime in our city. Finally, the city should hire a Community Service Officer in the police department to provide direct community contact across all age groups to provide social service support to vulnerable youth and to connect with neighborhoods on crime and other local issues.