Candidate Viewpoint: Cottage Grove City Council candidate Justin OlsenWe’ve been able to accomplish some very good things in partnership with our city staff during my time on the council, despite what has been a challenging economic environment, while laying the foundation for a very promising future.
By: Justin Olsen, South Washington County Bulletin
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Cottage Grove as a member of the City Council the last four years. I cannot thank you enough for providing me that opportunity in 2008. Now I am humbly asking once again for your trust, and your vote, as I seek re-election this November.
We’ve been able to accomplish some very good things in partnership with our city staff during my time on the council, despite what has been a challenging economic environment, while laying the foundation for a very promising future. Our tax levy has remained flat, which means the owner of an average-priced home in Cottage Grove will pay less in property taxes to the city in 2013 than they paid in 2004.
We’ve also been able to invest in a mission critical piece of community infrastructure for our Public Safety Department in building a new City Hall facility, paid for with cash at no additional cost to the taxpayers due to the low cost of both labor and materials for the project. In fact, the project will come in on time and about $2 million under budget because we chose to build at the perfect time in the market cycle. Our sensible budgeting practices and prudent financial decisions have also led us to receive a boost in our credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, moving us from AA to AA+, which puts us in the upper echelon of all cities in our state.
We’ve re-branded the city with a new logo and marketing program to attract more retail and light industrial business to our community, with great success. 3M recently announced an expansion that will result in more jobs, we have a pending redevelopment of the former Home Depot and we’ve seen new tenants locating in our business park. Our “Shop Local” program has been a huge hit with our area Chamber of Commerce and business owners because we are focused on keeping shopping dollars in Cottage Grove while simultaneously working extremely hard to attract the types of new businesses Cottage Grove residents both want and need.
I grew up in Cottage Grove, graduating from Park High School in 1988. My dad was a volunteer firefighter for many years, and my mom was involved in early childhood education. Their example about the importance of public service led me to my role as a volunteer Public Safety, Health, and Welfare commissioner for four years before seeking election to the City Council. I learned a lot in that time about how our city really operates each day, the budget process and the critical importance of compromise. I am also the past president of the Cottage Grove Strawberry Festival Committee, current vice-president of our Economic Development Authority, current vice-president of one of our local Lions Clubs, and an active volunteer head coach for Cottage Grove Athletic Association girls softball.
I’ve seen our city grow and evolve in countless ways over the last 25 years, just as it will over the next 25. Yet there has always been one constant we can all count on — Cottage Grove has strength of community character second to none. We come together in droves for things like the Strawberry Fest, Holiday Train, Stone Soup-er Bowl, Night to Unite and a host of other important events in the area. We do this because we care deeply about this place we all share and call home. That ongoing involvement has been a Cottage Grove tradition for as long as I can remember, and each year the spirit of personal investment in our shared community seems to grow stronger.
If re-elected, you can count on me to provide positive leadership, fact-based decision making and an unbridled passion to serve our community with pride. I respectfully request your vote on Nov. 6 because Cottage Grove is not just where I live; it’s who I am.