How do Olmsted County candidates view building and development?
Incumbents and challengers were asked for their views on development in the county.
Development interest continues throughout Olmsted County.
While county officials don’t typically weigh in on efforts within city boundaries, they do have control over what happens in the surrounding areas.
The Post Bulletin asked county commissioner candidates what additional steps, if any, can be taken to encourage building and development.
Their responses were varied, and full videos of their replies are available at https://www.postbulletin.com/tags/ELECTION_2020
Olmsted County District 1 candidates discuss building and development Candidates weigh in with views on the county's role in overseeing growth
Olmsted County District 5 candidates discuss building and development Candidates weigh in with views on the county's role in overseeing growth
Olmsted County District 7 candidates discuss building and development Candidates weigh in with views on the county's role in overseeing growth
Here’s a few of the opinions they shared:
Robert “Bucky” Beeman said the county should be doing more to raise awareness of options for building and development, including on county-owned properties.
“We need to look at collaboration and partnerships with entities such as the city, for-profits and nonprofits, just letting people know that we are open for business,” he said, adding that the conversations can bring a range of benefits to the county.
Incumbent Stephanie Podulke said commissioners must ensure development doesn’t add expenses for the county.
“We strive to eliminate sprawl, which is development characterized by very low density, leap-frogged development,” she said, indicating such growth can lead to added county costs, and development fees need to ensure those costs are covered.
Candidate Regina Mustafa said the county’s priority must be to ensure community members’ needs are met, and approved development should benefit the overall community.
“And, of course, any land-use development in Olmsted County has to also keep in mind our rural communities and help ensure that rural way of life,” she said.
Incumbent Jim Bier said his current goal is to ensure existing businesses can survive COVID-19. He also pointed to an anticipated 1.5 percent in overall economic growth this year, despite the fact that many businesses are struggling.
“This is testament to the growth and resilience of Olmsted County businesses,” he said, adding that the county should stay on course and consider possible adjustments after the pandemic.
Wale Elegbede said the county can do more to attract businesses, but it also needs to make sure any new business creates local jobs and meets the county’s long-term goals.
“Ultimately, we want to make sure the companies we attract don’t degrade our quality of life,” he said. “We want to make sure our companies add to the quality of life for Olmsted County.”
Incumbent Mark Thein said the county needs to continue seeking controlled growth through the county’s adopted Comprehensive Land Use Evaluation System, with the goal of making sure approved projects are the best options.
“I’ve been working to get our CLUES model to be more clear and picking less winners and losers,” he said. “Hopefully, we will see more smart development in the coming years.”
Four of the county’s seven district seats are on the Nov. 3 ballot.
In District 3, incumbent Gregg Wright is running unopposed for a second term.