I grew up in Morris, MN and after high school moved to the cities to attend the University of Minnesota and to start my career. A little over fourteen years ago, when I was ready to buy a home, I fell in love with a unique house and took on the grand adventure to move to Maple Lake. It was not long after that I fell in love with the community and the people who make it such a wonderful place, which truly has made Maple Lake my hometown.
After I had lived here for a few years, I wanted to get more involved with the community and to give back in some way to the city that has been so welcoming.
I first ran for council in 2008 with no agenda other than wanting to volunteer my time and experience to help move Maple Lake forward. After our former mayor stepped down in 2012, I stepped up and took on the challenge of that role. It has been a very rewarding and educational experience that I hope to continue with the goal of seeing Maple Lake grow – keeping our welcoming small town feeling and honoring the past while also moving us into the future and preparing a community that will thrive and encourage families to choose Maple Lake as their hometown for generations to come.
In the past eight years serving as council member and now mayor, I have encouraged and overseen the expansion of the liquor store, which has resulted in a considerable addition of money to our general fund. I have also worked closely with major employers to keep them from moving out of Maple Lake and seen their businesses add more jobs for our residents. We have also re-established funding to maintain and improve our infrastructure, the lack of which meant we had roads needing replacement instead of just maintenance. We need to keep this momentum going forward by listening to the needs of city staff, the community and business owners as well as the advice of industry experts as we make decisions of how to grow and keep Maple Lake a grand place to live.
As mayor I have been an active member of several boards of directors all of which make decisions that affect Maple Lake and services to our residents; Wright County Area Transit (WCAT) and served on the Trailblazer Transit Board, Maple Lake Library Board, the Wastewater Facility Board among others.
I also continue to be very involved in the League of MN Cities and its related MN Mayor’s Association. These groups are invaluable to us as resources for new ideas, access to experts and lobbyists who work to ensure cities like Maple Lake are represented at the state level.
Why do I do all of this? Because the residents of Maple Lake deserve the best representation from someone who understands that we need to honor our past while building towards the future. From someone who understands that though I may not immediately have all of the answers – I have made connections with resources that can provide information to help us make educated decisions to make Maple Lake thrive. And because it’s not only the council that makes decisions that affect Maple Lake – there are many other organizations at the county and state level we need to stay connected with and influence to ensure the needs of Maple Lake are not overlooked.
Serving as mayor are not the only way I give back to Maple Lake. I serve as Director of the Maple Lake Ambassadors Organization (queens committee), an active member of the Maple Lake Lions, and spend what free time I have helping out at the Laker’s games, helping at the school, Library, Gear Head, Brew Fest, Fishing Contest or wherever help is needed. My goal is to also reach out to involve more of our youth in volunteerism, – including recruiting our Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to help with the Highway 55 Beautification Project landscaping and asking our Ambassadors to create ‘give back’ projects during their reign. When our kids take pride in their community they will grow up to be involved and caring adults more likely to stay and give back to Maple Lake.
Our community is strong. Now that the economy has recovered our downtown is buzzing with activity again with the addition of several new stores and expansion of two others. We are at the point where we need to make responsible decisions about how we grow. In the past some decisions were made that met the needs of ‘now’ but put limitations on future growth. It has been my goal to ensure the decisions we make as a council are carefully thought through and are made with an eye to the future. Some of the decisions facing us now are the expansion of the industrial park, expansion of the airport, decision about the sale of the city lot, and decisions about what type of housing and businesses we hope to attract.
The industrial park expansion will mean that we can attract more jobs to the area, this is a necessity as our existing park is essentially full and we are not able to court newer industry without a place for them to build. While we do need to expand, we need to make sure we do so without incurring costs that may be a burden to our taxpayers. I want to be ready but not so far ahead of the game that we spend millions and sit with an empty industrial park. We do continue to move forward with the planning and are researching grants and other state aid that will enable us to build and not increase taxes to do so.
Our airport is a great asset to the community, enabling businesses to fly in visitors, bringing lake tourists to town and also creating new jobs and educational opportunities with the addition of the flight school and future A&P mechanic’s school. Hangar space is at capacity and we need to pursue land to build more. MNDOT aids us significantly in the purchase of land and building of airport infrastructure, so the eventual cost to the city will be minimal but the rewards will be many.
The city lot was made vacant through a grant from the state with the intention that it is to be sold for commercial purposes. Since so much time has passed we are no longer required to reimburse the state the almost $300,000 they invested. This opened the door to more creative ways to utilize the property while we waited for someone to purchase. A group was formed who has a great plan for making the land a ‘Town Square’ type of area, however at the same time, now there is an offer to purchase the land allowing a business to build and expand. Now that we have received feedback from the interested parties and the community at large, the council will be meeting to have a goal-setting session from which we should be able to come to agreement on what we see as the vision for our downtown.
The need for housing is one that affects not only our tax capacity, but also the enrollment numbers at our school which directly affect funding they receive from the state. Watching housing trends and listening to the needs of families I believe we need to court developers who have an interest in building more affordable housing for young families and transitional care or assisted living facilities to keep our parents and grandparents close to us when they are no longer able to remain in their homes. The building of such a facility will also create skilled nursing jobs.
The role of a city administrator has also been brought up, but without a clear set of goals and rationale for spending an additional $60-80,000 per year, we are just not at the point where that position or expense is needed yet. On my urging and after many years of requesting, we are going to have a facilitated goal-setting session later this month, the result of which will be a number of short and long term goals that we can create a clear plan to achieve.
So many things are affected by the decisions we make including the success of our school, traffic safety, and overall quality of life in Maple Lake going forward. I am passionate about this community and its success; I will take that passion combined with my education and background, continued feedback from community members, city staff, advice of experts and the thoughts of our council as I craft my decisions with the goal of keeping Maple Lake a healthy, thriving and welcoming community.
I look forward to the honor and opportunity to continue to serve this great community as your mayor. I also welcome any feedback or ideas you may have – you are the people I serve and I value your input. Please feel free to reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting City Hall at 963-3611.