Cottage Grove City Council candidates guide: David Thiede
Occupation: Technical sales manager
Lived in Cottage Grove: 11 years
Civic experience: Former Planning Commission chair, former vice-chair of Public Works Commission
Why are you the best choice for Cottage Grove City Council?
Experience: I served seven years on commissions in Cottage Grove - Planning: five years, chairman; Public Works: two years, vice-chair.
Eight years on task forces: Strawberry Fest Business Expo Manager for two years; Streets, East Ravine, Community Center, Comprehensive Plan task forces.
Skills: The creation and management of budgets; Process and project engineering; operations management; financial management ( with an MBA in finance); and group leadership of large and small businesses.
Informed decision making: In addition to getting all the facts, I will solicit and encourage input from the people of Cottage Grove. I listen.
Focus on Cottage Grove: My attention is here. I don't have any higher political ambitions.
How should the city jump-start business growth and expand its tax base?
We have already started that "jump-start". We have done planning. It may not turn out exactly as planned but it provides direction. The 2030 Comprehensive Plan, The EDA business plan, the East Ravine Master Plan are all examples.
The EDA has been actively soliciting new businesses and activity has been increasing. We need to continue that effort and work with small businesses to make sure they can survive their start-up phase and become strong and profitable. We need to reach out to large corporations and show them that we have moral, hardworking people in our community. We need to work with them to help them be profitable - which is a combination of factors - taxes being a very important one.
Transportation is very important for bringing in new corporations because initially many of the workers will be coming in from some other city. By having a vibrant safe community those workers will hopefully move to our city.
Is now the right time to move forward with building a new city hall and public safety complex?
To clarify - the primary need is for the Public Safety Department. It represents about 80% of the cost, and almost that much of the space. Their equipment and facility needs are more specialized and it would be expensive to temporarily remodel a building to try to make it effective for the short term and then build a new facility a few years later.
So, I feel it is the right time. The city has done its homework and gotten feedback from the experts.
Some of the reasons are: great bidding environment;construction costs are significantly lower than at any other time in the last 10 years; the land at the chosen site comes at no cost to the city through an agreement with the county that the land be used within five years; planning began in 2001 for eventual Public Safety/City Hall. Space needs study completed in 2005; the current facility has been deficient for many years.
Was the city's decision to drop its opposition to 3M's incinerator plan the right call?
I don't think the city has dropped it's opposition. They still do not like it, but any good negotiator will tell you that you need to look at what has the greatest benefit that can be achieved with the highest chance of being achieved. I believe the city did an excellent job of working with 3M to get them to agree to monitor the output of the incinerator. 3M did not legally have to do that.
I also believe the greater risk is making sure 3M and the city are prepared for accidents that could occur, and have plans in place and practiced to neutralize the probability and effects. We have a few industries that have hazardous operations that we need to address in the same prepared way.
I have worked in industry and have created disaster plans. I have already discussed it with Public Safety Director Craig Woolery, and this emergency preparedness activity is an ongoing effort between the city and these businesses.