Here are some of the questions I've been asked at town halls and answers to come common questions from doorsteps.
Tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Rochester. I attended Lourdes High School and returned to Rochester after studying Computer Information Systems at the Illinois Institute of Technology. I am married to my wife Megan and have two boys Odin (6) and Elon (3). We've lived in the Lincolnshire Neighborhood of NW Rochester for 11 years.
Why are you running?
I am running for office because I was raised to help people. I love changing people's perspectives about how responsive government can be. When someone approaches me and feels like they are completely stuck and we are able to find a way forward to get them help, that is why I run. When you need help, you deserve someone in office who will take your issues on as their own. The community has been very responsive to my style and I know we still have work to do. So I'm running to continue to improve our neighborhoods, our ward and our city.
What are your top 3 issues? How will you address them?
Our community is growing. We have a desirable mixture of a strong community and great neighborhoods. Ward 3 in particular has high desirability and some of the most affordable land available for development. I'm a strong believer in setting expectations. Growth is only productive when it creates positive outcomes for the community. I want to be upfront about what our community is trying to achieve. Let's embrace growth while also protecting our neighborhoods by balancing the desire for a strong economy with the desire to have high quality neighborhoods. Let's also be clear that DMC has impacts throughout the entire city and we need to compensate for downtown growth with investment into our neighborhoods to keep them strong.
At nearly every house I hear about our schools. Some think they are great and some think that they need improvement. All agree that we need collaborative local governments that work together to make sure our kids have an opportunity to succeed. From our local library system to our post secondary education opportunities, I believe in the value of education. I stand ready to work with the school district to find ways and collaborative solutions to how the City of Rochester can help our schools be successful. I also believe in investing in planning to keep our school officials armed with the best information possible regarding our future direction and projections about our growth.
As I walk the ward, a lot of people mention the cost of living in Rochester. It is especially concerning to hear stories from those on a fixed income. We need to take a holistic view of affordability, from housing to transportation. Making our community affordable means having a well defined strategic budget, a process we've started using under my leadership. It also means tracking our expenses, which is why I introduced our external spending oversight committee. We must address housing scarcity while providing opportunities for those on fixed incomes or with special needs.
What makes you best suited for the job?
I understand efficiency. I started my career with IBM before leaving to join a technology startup. I started as an engineer and now work as director managing a team of thirteen people. I understand building a business and I understand how to move a group forward. I think my unique mix of career experience and servant leadership makes for a great, practical governing style.
I have significant experience in our local government. I spent seven years serving on planning and zoning before my first term on the city council. That is critical for you in your time of need. You want an ally in office that is willing to walk you through complex processes and fight to get you fair treatment.
I have shown a willingness to lead through my position. When neighborhoods are being treated unfairly, I'm there to speak up. When the government is resisting being transparent, I've fought back and made your elected officials accountable. I expect fairness in our community so, whether it's dealing with a certain telecommunications giant or a negligent home builder, I'm willing to act to help the people I represent.
Fairness is my strongest conviction. I want you to trust how the government works. When the government is not working in a fair way, I'll work with you to fix it. When I find situations that are unfair, you can trust me to address them.
How will you stay connected to ward 3?
I pride myself on being available to help. My website lists my contact information. You can expect to reach me most days from 8 AM -5 PM on my phone. I'm available by email, through Facebook, on twitter or you can sign up for my mailing list.
I also make myself available in an open meeting held every Monday at Rooster's from 7 until 8 am. Check my Facebook page for details. If necessary, I can also arrange to meet you to discuss an issue with some notice.
I believe I am one of the most accessible council members there is. I encourage you to ask your neighbors who have contacted me what their experience is like. I strive to connect with everyone in the ward to help in any way I can.
What should be fixed or improved in Rochester?
The most important fix I am currently working to address is moving to a strategic budget. Rochester has a long history of budgeting for just a single year. In a modern city, a budget cycle needs to be more comprehensive and span multiple years. This will prevent sudden adjustments to property taxes because long term needs are better understood. I've also been a huge advocate for a more strategic capital investment plan. Our community's priorities are my priorities and I AM willing to do what it takes to make them a reality. That is how change happens. We need to be clear about our intentions and be willing to pick from several options to do what is best for our community.