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Get to know the candidates: Rochester City Council Ward 5

October 28, 2018 GMT

Rochester City Council

Ward 5

Shaun Palmer

A project manager for Great Lakes Superior Walls and a member-service representative and swim instructor for the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, Palmer claimed 23.2 percent of the vote in the Ward 5 primary election, taking the top spot among five candidates.

1) What drew you to seek a city council seat?

I have watched the city council for more than 30 years, and have always wanted to serve the people of Rochester. When I was asked to run for the city council for this term, I looked at the opportunities in Rochester and thought: “Do I have the skill set to make Rochester a better place and to represent all my ward?” I do not belong to a party or have an agenda, my goal as a councilperson is to serve the people of Rochester and do what is best for Rochester and that is it.

2) What can the council do to improve communication and interaction between members?

On all the boards and committees I have served on, I always listen to the other members and try to understand their position, find the common ground and work to make the best decision. That is not always possible, but if you do this with respect, everyone can walk away with the knowledge their voice was heard.

We also need to treat everyone who appears before the council with the respect they deserve and understand it is not easy being in front of the council.

3) When campaigning, what is the top concern you have heard from ward residents, and how would you address it?

The effect that the Destination Medical Center has on neighborhoods. With the opportunities that DMC brings it also brings increases in property values and property taxes. As a city council, we can take more control of the issues that affect Rochester.

The city council does have the final approval for projects and standards with the DMC. Public safety is an issue that DMC brings, with the increase in people and crime, with taller buildings we will have to increase our emergency management.

We need to look at our transportation needs and provide for different methods along with a good mix of housing. We are very lucky to live in a town that is growing and need to keep that small-town feeling while growing.

Judy Hickey

An arts administrator, grant writer and arts program director, Hickey received 20.9 percent of the vote in the Ward 5 primary election, earning her a spot on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

1) What drew you to seek a city council seat?

For 22 years I have served the Rochester community working for non-profit organizations. I am committed to serving the Rochester community as a representative of Ward 5 on the Rochester City Council.

I have had the opportunity to closely observe the responsibilities of a city council representative through my husband’s service on the city council. Half of the job is communicating and working with individual residents; addressing their concerns and helping them navigate city government. The other half of the job is attending the various council and community meetings, researching the issues coming before the council, meeting with stakeholders, and making informed decisions.

Serving on the city council will be my No. 1 priority, and I will dedicate the time to doing the job well.

2) What can the council do to improve communication and interaction between members?

Council members need to address each other, city staff, and the city’s residents with respect. The effectiveness of the council increases when the members demonstrate respect. Council members will not be in agreement on all issues, but there must be a respectful give and take of viewpoints as members work towards acceptable solutions for the community.

The council must effectively communicate, demonstrating attentiveness, listening, and honest, direct dialogue. Members must resist theatrics and outrage at opposing points of view. All points of view need to be evaluated with the understanding that intelligent people can disagree on important issues.

Ultimately, the voters decide who serves on the council. When the community decides their representative behaves inappropriately, this person will be voted out of office.

3) When campaigning, what is the top concern you have heard from ward residents, and how would you address it?

Residents, of all ages, are concerned about rising property taxes. Property taxes account for 26 percent of city revenue. Residents want the city to manage its finances wisely and city government to function effectively. Residents want to see the value of tax dollars reflected in the following spending priorities:

• Public safety funded at appropriate levels, so that the police and fire departments can accomplish their mission.

• Neighborhood parks need to be maintained and playground equipment repaired.

• Potholes in the streets repaired quickly, roads properly maintained during winter and throughout the year.

• City capital development projects considered with regard to long-term maintenance.

It is the responsibility of the city council to approve the city’s budget and monitor spending to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is well spent.