Candidate Viewpoint: Cottage Grove City Council candidate Jen PetersonDuring my term, despite the recession, Cottage Grove is doing very well. We continued to provide quality public services and found smart ways to work with neighboring communities to help save more public dollars. We also made improvements to our beautiful parks and trails. We put people back on the job building our much-needed new City Hall and public safety facility while the costs were low.
By: Jen Peterson, South Washington County Bulletin
First of all, I sincerely thank you for electing me in 2008, and entrusting me with the honor of serving the people of my hometown. During my term, despite the recession, Cottage Grove is doing very well. We continued to provide quality public services and found smart ways to work with neighboring communities to help save more public dollars. We also made improvements to our beautiful parks and trails. We put people back on the job building our much-needed new City Hall and public safety facility while the costs were low. With all that, we still kept our tax levy relatively flat and maintained an excellent credit rating. We must be doing something right because we are seeing new businesses coming to town and others are in the process of expanding.
In order to handle the projected growth of Cottage Grove and south Washington County, we must plan for better long-term regional transportation options. Highway 61 will not be adequate and putting more cars on the roads is not the answer. I support the development of the Red Rock Commuter Rail, initially between Hastings and the Union Depot. It would travel on the existing railway and have transit stations in the Langdon area of Cottage Grove, Newport and the Battle Creek area as well. It is a more environmentally efficient option and would lessen the strain on the roads. I serve as the vice chair of the Red Rock Corridor Commission as well as a member of the Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission. These transportation developments will not only help people get to and from work, they will actually put people to work during the construction phase. Also, it will help grow the local business and industrial areas, as well as promote housing development. Transportation is very much about jobs and business.
This is another growing issue here. People are having a very hard time finding a place to rent here. Young adults, families and seniors wanting to rent are having to move elsewhere to find something that works for them. I have three young adult sons who can’t find an apartment here that would be in their price range. I’m working hard to bring in more rental housing that will work for people across the income levels and life cycle. We are very much unprepared for the number of soon-to-be-seniors we will have here over the next 20 years. I also initiated the efforts to bring our first Habitat for Humanity homes here. These homes will help fill a neighborhood where land sat empty for years.
Aside from my council job, I have two other part-time jobs. I’m a substitute paraprofessional in School District 833, often working with students with special education needs. Also, for the last 11 years, I’ve been a respite care provider for my nephew with autism. Both of these jobs I do on my own schedule so I can be available for council-related business. I know there is more to being a good council member than showing up at meetings.
I also commit many hours each week to volunteering. I serve on a couple Washington County housing committees, chairing one of them. I’ve served on a few nonprofit boards, currently and locally with Stone Soup Thrift Shop. I also coordinated the effort to bring Fare For All to Cottage Grove. Fare For All is a discount grocery buying program. I saw people were struggling, so I initiated this service in Cottage Grove and coordinate it each month.
Personally, I’m a Cottage Grove native, married to Tony, a mother of five, grandma of 1 with another on the way. I’m a member of Crossroads Church in Woodbury. I’m very dedicated to making sure Cottage Grove continues to be a great place for my grandchildren to grow up too.
Please visit my website: www.JenPeterson.org or call/text me 651-271-2287. I ask for your vote for re-election.