Ward 2 candidates address city growth, housing

Wojcik, Bransford answer questions during In the City for Good forum.

Ward 2 city - Main photo
Rochester City Council Ward 2 candidates: Mark Bransford and Michael Wojcik.

Rochester growth became a subject of contention between candidates for the Rochester City Council Ward 2 seat Wednesday.

After incumbent Michael Wojcik voiced a desire to continue his fight against sprawl and growing city boundaries, challenger Mark Bransford questioned the stance.

“We’re not growing,” he said. “Why are we talking about a housing problem and housing shortage if we are growing properly?”

Wojcik pointed to population growth in the past decade, noting 86 percent of the 14,000 new residents in Olmsted County are living in Rochester.

He said the city needs to continue on the path set by the latest comprehensive plan to encourage infill development and find paths toward affordable housing that reduce reliance on transportation and infrastructure expenses.


“We are geographically bigger than Minneapolis or St. Paul with a fraction of the population,” he said. “We need to be smarter and do better.”

Bransford pointed to the traffic entering the city as a sign that a different path is required.

“We’re not building the kind of housing people want,” he said. “We have 30,000 people commuting a day into Rochester because we are not building what people want.”

He said the city has focused too much attention on downtown density, which in turn increases property and construction costs.

“We’ve painted ourselves in a corner,” he said. “We are at an unsustainable trajectory where we have too much high density downtown.”

He said he wants to work to create a plan to reduce the cost of building housing and make related fees more transparent.

He suggested adding a dedicated item to the city budget to address housing needs, and potentially devoting a staff member to tackle the affordable housing issue.


“I’d like to get in there and dig us out of the hole we created,” he said.

Wojcik said allowing development to spread out would dig the city a large hole when it comes to future costs

“Simply throwing more money at more infrastructure and sprawl is a recipe for disaster,” he said, arguing the city has already grown beyond its ability to properly maintain existing infrastructure.

The candidates also answered questions related to social justice, homelessness, transportation and other issues in the 60-minute forum, which is expected to be posted on the In the City for Good YouTube pag e Thursday.

Additional forums are planned featuring Ward 6 and council president candidates starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Information for watching the live version of the forum is available on the group's Facebook page .

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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