CANDIDATE PROFILE Name: Sandra Means.
Age: Refused answer.
Address: 105 26th St. N.W.
Family: Married, three adult children, six grandchildren.
Work history: Part-time Olmsted County human rights advisor, formerly full-time human rights advisor to the Rochester Public Schools and IBM Corp.'s recruiting specialist and equal opportunity/affirmative action specialist.
Education history: Bachelor's degree from Concordia College in organizational management, graduated cum laude; associate's degree from Rochester Community College.
Community activities: Member of Olmsted County Community Action Board, vice president of Viking Neighborhood Association, member of Rochester branch of the NAACP, volunteer for Salvation Army, Quarry Hill and Rochester Public Library, past member of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and mayor's Community Response Team.
Government history: Elected in 2003 to fill remainder of former council member David Senjem's term, serves on various city boards, member of the League of Minnesota Cities and National League of Cities.
Contact information: Home phone, 288-7996; e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top three issues:
1. City budget.
2. Promoting economic development.
3. Planning for city growth.
"I will continue to serve the residents of Ward 6 specifically and the city of
Rochester generally through dedicated service and advocacy."
Five questions of the candidate:
1. Have city spending cuts gone too deep? Yes.
2. Does the Rochester City Council provide effective leadership? Yes.
3. Are necessary public safety functions adequately funded? No.
4. Has the city taken the right steps to cover the costs associated with urban growth? Yes.
5. Has Rochester's leadership made the proper commitment to inner-city neighborhoods? Yes.
By Jeffrey Pieters
Seventeen months on the Rochester City Council have been enough to show Sandra Means she'd like to serve a while longer.
"It's been enriching," she said. "It's been enlightening. It's been absolutely fascinating. I really want to serve a full, four-year term. I can only get better."
Means, the first black member of Rochester's City Council, was the voters' choice in a special election last year to replace a departed council member.
Means, whose background is in human relations, brings an uncommon perspective to the council table.
"We all have this rigidity of how we think things should be done," she said, "but we should never forget that human element. That's my job on the council -- to make sure we never forget."
That's been a difficult job in Means' tenure, a period of lost revenues and deep spending cuts.
It's a ripe time for the city to re-evaluate some of its services, Means said.
"Can we do with less, and have we done a good job with less?" she said. "I think yes. (But) you tighten and you tighten and you streamline, and at some point, it really begins to hurt.
"I'd like to see some goal statements from some of our business units and see how they plan to attain those goals," she said. "With the current situation being different than it was in the past, what are we going to do differently to ensure our services won't be compromised?"
Means still feels she is learning her job, and has more questions than answers. But certain principles guide her decision-making. For instance, she said, she likes the city's growing use of fees as a way to levy the heaviest charges against the heaviest service-users.
But that philosophy has limits, she said, and she would not like to see the neediest citizens priced out of using public facilities or receiving public services.
Despite a group of citizens raising $30,000 to reopen the city's Silver Lake swimming pool this year, Means said the city council has no special obligation to ensure that pool reopens again using public funds in 2005.
"That pool, it still has to be somewhat self-sufficient," she said. "It still has to be in demand."