Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick signed up to become the first candidate to file for a Rochester City Council seat on Tuesday, but she says she’s also planning a slow roll out of her campaign.
“I’m taking it a bit slower than anyone else would,” she said, acknowledging she was waiting to see whether Mark Bilderback would seek another term in the Fourth Ward seat.
Bilderback has said he doesn’t plan to run.
While dedicated to community service, Kirkpatrick said running for elected office wasn’t originally on the top of her list of goals.
“Other people told me I should, and I was shocked,” the Rochester native said, adding she was focused on negative attitudes toward elected officials.
Recent work to address community food insecurity, helped change her mind.
“There is so much good going on, and I want to keep that going,” she said.
Kirkpatrick said she’s hoping to ensure the city’s economy and infrastructure can help its residents.
“I love to help people,” she said. “I want people to understand they have a voice, and I want to carry that voice.”
The owner of a landscape design company with a master’s degree in leadership education, Kirkpatrick said she brings a variety of experiences to the campaign, including being a single mother and serving as the president of the Eastside Neighborhood Association. She also serves as an Olmsted County Extension master gardener and the city’s master water steward.
She said her experiences have shown her the benefits of listening to others and including all areas and interests in the city in discussions.
“I want Rochester to be all-inclusive, to see all areas as places that can be beautiful, creative and have excellent diversity,” she said. “All areas are worthy of infrastructure change and positive construction projects.”
She said housing and food insecurity will be topics during her campaign, along with finding ways to protect water and air quality in the city.
She also wants to ensure the Destination Medical Center initiative provides the best outcome for residents. While Mayo Clinic’s status must be acknowledged, Kirkpatrick said it shouldn’t overshadow the residents’s needs.
“The people of this city are the ones we need to be here for,” she said, acknowledging there are complex mixed feelings related to the economic development effort.