Candidate Viewpoint: Jen PetersonIt has been my pleasure to have been able to give back to my hometown and I thank you for allowing me to be your council member. I’ve met many great people who live, work and run businesses here and I can say that I am so proud to be among you all.
By: Jen Peterson, South Washington County Bulletin
It has been my pleasure to have been able to give back to my hometown and I thank you for allowing me to be your council member. I’ve met many great people who live, work and run businesses here and I can say that I am so proud to be among you all.
Many great things are happening in Cottage Grove, but I’d like to list a few of the things that I’m most proud of during my time on the council. I am thrilled to see that a community center idea has been embraced by the city. We will continue to look at this as a council. My desire is to be able build this with the smallest tax impact on the taxpayer, which having a public and private partnership would allow. I would also support this issue being put up to a referendum vote.
Having a strong interest in housing, I know that having a variety of housing options is important. Not everybody is set to buy a house these days. We are planning for the future and need to include more rental housing options across the life cycle and across all income levels. The idea of families, seniors or young adults moving out of Cottage Grove because they can’t find the type of housing that works for them is just not acceptable to me. My volunteer work serving on a couple of Washington County committees related to housing keeps me in the loop of housing issues. I also serve on the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless Board of Directors, which advocates for the homeless people across Minnesota. Building houses not only gives people a home but also helps boost the local economy by putting workers back to work in the construction trades and building material suppliers. As your council member I will support working cooperatively with land owners and housing developers to bring the variety of housing options to Cottage Grove that our growing community needs now and into the future.
Transportation is another growing issue for us. Being a forward thinker, I’m working to make sure that we have good, efficient and more environmentally friendly transportation options in the future. I serve as vice chair on the Red Rock Corridor Commission for the commuter rail proposed between Hastings and St. Paul, with a stop in Cottage Grove. Additionally, I serve on the Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission, which is working to connect St. Paul and Chicago by rail. Having this connection between the Twin Cities and Chicago will have huge positive economic development impacts along the corridor, which will run through Cottage Grove. Business looking to be close to this transportation option will look at Cottage Grove as a place to locate. We are well situated to reap the benefits of this investment.
Creating local jobs is important. Another way the council has helped with this is through the construction of our new public safety and city hall facility. Our police department has needed this for years and was doing their best to function in a facility that had long been out dated. Building this facility now, while the construction costs and interest rates are at a historic low, was the right thing to do. Aside from saving the taxpayers money in the future, we have put many of our local union workers back to work.
Fiscally, during my term, Cottage Grove has done well. We maintained a relatively flat tax burden on the taxpayers, despite some negative actions of the Minnesota Legislature. There have been no drastic service cuts and we have found creative ways to work with other local communities to more cost effectively provide services. We have maintained our very good credit rating even while financing the new public safety and city hall facility.
I welcome your feedback and ask for your vote this fall.