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Braucks intends to continue economic development

Lori Braucks

Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a series highlighting Hastings City Council candidates. Find the rest of the story here

Lori Braucks

  • Age: 39
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  • Education: Hastings High School (1997), Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from UW-Eau Claire; Juris Doctor in Political Science from William Mitchell College of Law.
  • Family: Tommy (husband of 11 years), Johnathan (10) and Grace (7)
  • Occupation: eDiscovery case manager for Thomson Reuters
  • Civic Involvement: Charter Commission (2009-2014), Black Dirt Theater Board (2010-2014), Chair of Public Safety, Administrative and Parks and Rec Council Committees, Hastings Community TV Cable Board, and volunteer for CEASE, Feed My Starving Children, Hastings Family Service and Black Dirt Theater

What experience and talents would you bring to the at-large council position?

I understand laws and policy making because of my education and work experience in the legislature, courts and law firms. I bring a clear and defined sense of what local government should and can do. Additionally, I have project management experience understanding and prioritizing competing needs and wants. I have one term of experience as a council member. In this time, I led policy development of tough issues as chair of several council committees which helps me understand far more about city operations and staff responsibilities. My first term demonstrates my strong leadership and fairness by voting in alignment with what is best for the whole city even if it's not what's best for me. My supporters describe my leadership style as honest, pragmatic, hopeful and constitutional. I firmly believe city government works best in conjunction with community partners to tackle big issues.

What differentiates you from other candidates in this election?

My entire professional career is in the private sector, and this experience gives me a practical, efficient and customer-service perspective to local government. I am a mom of a young family. If we want to attract younger people to live and work in Hastings, our leadership should represent those values and concerns. I connect regularly with other parents at school activities, soccer fields, YMCA and community events to hear about those concerns. Because of this, I have stronger relationships with many more community partners than I did four years ago and meet regularly to hear what's important to them. I am honest and candid with people who contact me and I have earned a good reputation for responding quickly and listening to others.

What would be your top priority as an at-large councilmember?

My current short-term priorities are ensuring we have clean, safe water and strengthening our water system, and supporting our police department in their use of force policies and how they apply to persons with mental illness. My long-term top priorities are continued focus on economic development including transit and improving Vermilion Street Corridor, and offering more diverse housing options. Regarding transit, if Hastings wants Metro Transit express bus service, I think we should place the question of joining the taxing district on the ballot. I disagree with the Met Council's approach to forcing cities into the transit taxing district for at least one year before offering any service. However, express bus service may be an important economic development tool for commuters and bringing workforce here so existing businesses can thrive and expand. I am open to the idea but need to see more factual data and analysis of the value (ridership versus cost). Additionally, I support privatized or public intra-city transit solutions.

How do you plan on handling housing issues within the city?

We need diversity in the type and range of housing options in Hastings including for seniors and millennial families. Housing should be market driven, not government driven. I don't want the city to be in the business of buying properties and acting as a developer; that's not our best role. For example, in the Artspace development, our role was selling the property to an experienced developer who, with other community partners, had a vision for creating that space. We can do more collaboration and cooperation like this. Hastings' housing development has been recovering slowly since the 2008-2009 housing market crash. But in the last year, I reviewed more housing development proposals so momentum is building. We focused on improving downtown's riverfront park and streets and then, business owners came forward to open new restaurants and shops in Hastings. We can and should communicate development approval processes clearly and analyze our fees to make sure they are in line with, if not superior to, neighboring communities. We can have openness to new ideas for existing commercial properties (like Target) even though they may be mixed or non-traditional uses. We can create aesthetically pleasing streetscapes and walkable areas where business can grow.