Cottage Grove mayor's race: Incumbent Bailey says first term 'set the table'Myron Bailey’s four years as mayor haven’t always gone as planned. Elected in the throes of a national economic recession, the city’s budget has been squeezed; businesses closed and homebuilders stopped building.
Myron Bailey’s four years as mayor haven’t always gone as planned. Elected in the throes of a national economic recession, the city’s budget has been squeezed; businesses closed and homebuilders stopped building.
“I want to get things done now,” Bailey, 49, said, describing himself and the difficulties in presiding over a city as the economy has gone from rapid decline to tepid recovery. “And, it’s frustrating sometimes. Things don’t move as quickly as I’d like them to move.”
Bailey, however, is an unreservedly enthusiastic cheerleader of the city where he grew up and calls home and is candid about what he says it has achieved during one of the most challenging four-year periods Cottage Grove has faced in its modern history.
He points to a new — and badly needed, city leaders have said repeatedly — City Hall and public safety facility constructed without raising property taxes; a more aggressive stance toward recruiting commercial investment that the mayor said now has Cottage Grove more widely known among developers; and city spending that remained largely flat, with a property tax burden that ranks in the middle of its peer communities despite a tax base that still lags behind many of them.
Despite the difficulties, Bailey said he and his fellow council members have gotten things done and have moved the city in the right direction, setting it up to thrive as the economy picks up.
The seeds have been planted, he says. Now, Bailey wants to help guide the city as it reaps the benefits.
“I look at the last four years as setting the table,” he said during a recent interview. “The next four years, we will see the fruits of those labors.”
Already, Bailey notes, the city has begun adding new businesses and restaurants and is seeing two of Cottage Grove’s larger employers — 3M Cottage Grove and Werner Electric Supply — begin to move forward with plans to expand their facilities. As the economy continues to improve, he says, more will come; developers, Bailey said are already inquiring about following a planned Walmart Supercenter into a future commercial area surrounding the former Cottage View Drive-In property.
Spurring more commercial development — in order to keep residents’ shopping dollars in the city and boost other businesses — was at the fore of his campaign for mayor four years ago and will be again going forward.
“I do what I say I’ll do,” Bailey said. “I don’t just make promises I can’t keep.”
With a foundation laid, Bailey says in the next four years his priorities would be continuing what he called a three-pronged approach to growth — the business park, retailers and restaurants, and housing — to add jobs, amenities and tax base to the city; master-planning the former Cottage View Drive-In site for more commercial development; responsibly implementing proposed improvements to the city’s parks system should voters approve a multi-million dollar referendum Nov. 6; and seeking to lower property taxes on homeowners by diversifying the city’s tax base.
A 1982 graduate of Park High School and a resident of the city for much of his life, Bailey, as the face of the Cottage Grove, has been its biggest booster. Now, he’s asking for another four years on the job.
“I just have a deep-felt passion for this community and I want to shout it from the rooftops,” Bailey said. “I want people to be proud of this community.”