Rochester Post-Bulletin Newspaper – Rochester City Council Candidate Questions

From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Rochester Housing Concerns
Submitted Date: Monday, June 18, 2018

 Question: What measures do you believe the city of Rochester should take to address existing and future housing concerns? (100 word limit)

Housing affordability is a concern in Rochester as DMC development plans affect growth. Rising demand and costs related to home ownership and apartment rental causes an increasing percentage income to be committed to housing costs. Multiple actions need to be taken to address these trends.

Encouraging and allowing more housing to be build, which will take pressure off the high level of demand in the market. Working through city, and state, government to find ways to reduce the costs related to building single family homes in the entry level market and to effectively use TIFF dollars to encourage housing development.


From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Strategic Planning
Submitted Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Question: The Rochester City Council is currently working on strategic planning, with the goal of setting short-term and long-term priorities for the city.  What do you see as the top priorities for the city in the next three to five years? (125 word limit)

Rochester City Council needs to address the following priorities:

Improve communication between city government and the residents. Better effort needs to be made to inform citizens in an effective and timely manner of plans and policies that are in developed that affect residents.

Rochester City Council approved the P2S Comprehensive Plan in April 2018. A review and incorporation of related planning document needs to occur, which will allow citizens to better navigate through these many overlapping documents.

Oversight, proper planning, and implementation of the proposed Destination Medical Center projects and thorough examination of the related long term cost of such projects to the city’s budget.

Careful review of the city’s budget as the Comprehensive Plan is implemented, focusing on controlling the growth of city government.


From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Transportation – Downtown Traffic
Submitted Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Question: Recent transportation studies point to a need to reduce peak-period congestion into downtown and on downtown streets. What, if anything, would you suggest the council do to reduce downtown traffic impacts? (125 word limit)

Increasing downtown Rochester workers’ use of public transportation and ride-share carpooling is key to reducing congestion during peak-periods on downtown streets.

The Public Transit Department must partner with the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota–Rochester, and other downtown employers’ to market and incentivize the public transit system to their employees. Educating the community and giving reasons to switch to alternative transit. Public transportation should be simple, efficient, and safe to use, while being economical, in order to increase the usage by daily commuters. Promote the Park & Ride Lots for downtown commuters. If public transit is fast and eliminates parking hassles, people will choose it.

Improving technology through trip planning and ride-share carpooling apps will help to reduce single riders from driving and parking downtown.


From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Community Improvement
Submitted Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Question: During the recent phone survey conducted on behalf of the city, participants were asked: What aspects, if any, the community should be fixed or improved in the future?” Focusing on a single topic for improvement, how would you reply to the question and why? (125 word limit)

Surveyed Rochester residents identified streets maintenance, along with parks and housing, as a top issues needing improvement.

Street maintenance includes repair, snow removal, deicing measures, and cleaning of streets. Proper maintenance avoids the more costly road replacement. Winter conditions stress Rochester roads making proper maintenance of primary importance. The physical condition and safety of streets are important to residents’ daily use.

City Council can ensure the proper annual funding of roads maintenance, with the expectation that preventative maintenance is the top priority for the long-term upkeep of the city’s streets. The repair of potholes and sealing of street cracks need to be accomplished within a short time frame to prevent further deterioration and extend the life of our roadways to avoid the more costly reconstruction.


From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Candidate Primary Questions
Date: Thursday, August 2, 2018
Occupation: Arts Administrator, Grant Writer, Arts Program Director 

What do you see as the city’s top issue to address, and how would you like to see it addressed? (125 words)

Ward 5 residents’ two top concerns are property taxes and housing affordability. The Council needs to responsibly manage the city’s budget and be fiscally accountable to the taxpayers. Focus on controlling the growth of city government in order to manage rising costs. Property taxes are one of the largest funding sources for the city’s annual budget. Housing development has not kept pace with need. Multiple efforts must be used to address the increasing costs of housing in Rochester — no one solution will fix the housing crisis. We need to preserve existing housing, identify regulatory impediments, and use financial incentives from local, state, and federal housing programs. Innovative use of TIF, MN Workforce Housing tax credits, and HUD funding will be key to finding solutions.

What would you establish as DMC-related goals for the next two to three years?(125 words)

Rochester is at a point of rapid growth due to the DMC initiatives. I would focus on Bus Rapid Transit and completion of the bicycle/pedestrian trail system. These projects will help alleviate commuter traffic and parking issues downtown. Infrastructure plans for the sub-districts Heart of the City and Discovery Square are a focus of concern, with the Peace Plaza, Gagnon Peace Fountain, historic Chateau Theatre, and the expected job growth for technical and bio-sciences due to One Discovery Square. DMC funded projects come before the Council for final approval. Projects need to be reviewed for long term operational and maintenance expenses. The changes created by the DMC growth need to improve Rochester as a livable city for all residents, across all sectors of the city.

What makes you the best suited candidate for the office?(125 words)

I will use my experience to advocate and be a voice for the residents of Ward 5. There are two main parts to the job of being a Council representative. The strategic part is researching issues, attending meetings, understanding city operations, in order to make informed decisions. It takes time to be an effective and informed city council representative. The communication part is meeting and working with residents to resolve problems and address concerns. I intend to be the type of city council representative residents feel comfortable contacting if they have questions or need help navigating city government. People are busy living their lives, working and caring for their families. I will devote my time communicating with residents and being their advocate in city government.


From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Downtown Small Businesses
Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What can the city council due to support small businesses in downtown Rochester? (125 word limit)

Small businesses are important to the economic health and vitality of downtown Rochester. These businesses diversify the economy and provide employment opportunities for workers. Downtown workers, visitors, residents — and the whole community — benefits from the goods, services, entertainment, culture, and arts provided by these businesses.

The Rochester City Council can support downtown businesses through the following:

  • Maintain communication with business owners, seek their input, and consider their concerns in the planning and decision making process
  • Provide proper maintenance of city infrastructure
  • Ensure public safety downtown
  • Work to minimize the effects of DMC related construction on the area businesses
  • Strive to effectively deliver city services
  • Responsibly manage city government growth and the budget in order to control costs


From: Judy Hickey, Candidate for Rochester City Council, Ward 5
Topic: Downtown Historic Preservation
Submitted Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2018

With many older buildings linked to the past in downtown and throughout Rochester, the goals of developers and preservationists are often at odds. What do you see as priorities related to potential historic preservation in the city? 
(125 word limit)

The community supports preservation of Rochester’s historic past. City Council established the Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission in 2013. Rochester Historic Preservation Commission has been working with Minneapolis consultants Preservation Design Works to develop the plan for a Rochester Downtown Commercial Historic District. As implementation is considered, the following needs to be reviewed:

  • Clearly defining and discussing any proposed development code or zoning ordinance restrictions with stakeholders
  • Impact on private property rights in creating ordinances establishing a local historic district
  • Establishing appeal rights for property owners
  • Understanding state and federal incentive tax credits and grant opportunities available to property owners
  • Acknowledging that establishing historic districts often leads to real estate appreciation and the DMC effects has already lead to increased property values in the downtown districts