Newport mayor candidate profile: Tim GeraghtyNewport Mayor Tim Geraghty’s case to voters is straightforward: with his experience, the city is better off.
Newport Mayor Tim Geraghty’s case to voters is straightforward: with his experience, the city is better off.
For almost three decades, Geraghty has served on the City Council, including two separate stints as the city’s mayor, in the 1990s and again from 2008 to the present. And, while his opponent — fellow council member Steven Gallagher — has framed the election as choice between new and old, Geraghty says he offers “invaluable experience for the city.”
Years of developing relationships with local business leaders and local representatives at the State Capitol are critical in helping the city move forward, he said, and his work to stabilize the city financially has laid the foundation for growth.
It is a point he has hit repeatedly this campaign season: under his stewardship the past four years there has been a “drastic improvement in [Newport’s] financial position,” including an improved bond rating, replenished general fund reserve and smaller budgets.
“We’re [under] much, much better financial management,” he said.
Alongside keeping the city’s property tax levy flat, spurring more business development is at the top of Geraghty’s list of priorities for the next four years. Newport has already made strides in that area, he said, with more developer interest in the city, an advancing redevelopment project being led by the county that will remake an industrial area of the city and an improved rapport with the city’s existing businesses.
“If you talk to a majority of businesses,” he asserted during a recent interview, “they’re happy with the relationship.”
The city’s growing economic development fund and façade improvement program is the first phase of a plan to offer aid to businesses as motivation to look more closely at Newport. Geraghty also said the city needs a marketing plan to attract new businesses.
“I’m going to advocate we look at offering larger incentives … to draw [businesses] in,” he said.
But, the key to it all, Geraghty said is a fiscally strong city, something he said the City Council has made a priority the past four years and would continue to in the next four.
“If you have a strong financial city, it all [builds] off that,” he said.
Geraghty said that will mean continuing to keep city spending flat while not eating away at the city’s fund reserves. With another state budget deficit looming, more local government aid could be cut — a fix used to patch past shortfalls that has hurt Newport budgets.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to reduce our reserves when we potentially may need them,” he said.
As for the city’s at-times fractious political environment — on full display earlier this month during a verbal bust-up at a City Council meeting — Geraghty said Newport’s city government has been more harmonious in recent years.
“Sometimes, openness, and transparency and democracy is not always pretty,” he said.
In an interview, Geraghty defended his accomplishments over almost three decades in elected office that he said include helping locate the Resource Recovery Technologies garbage-to-fuel plant in the city, saving for and constructing a new public works building and working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to design the massive Highway 61 reconstruction project through the city.
“It’s a very important election for Newport residents,” Geraghty warned. “You’ll get who you vote for.”