David DeLong - 2012 Northfield City Council Candidate (Ward 2)

David DeLong

David DeLong (daveoho@smig.net) is a candidate for Northfield City Council, Ward 2. David's responses to questions prepared by Northfield Citizens Online in cooperation with the League of Women Voters Northfield - Cannon Falls are presented below:

Candidate Info

My name is David DeLong. I’m a longtime resident of Northfield. I work for the contract food service provider at Carleton College. I was previously elected to two terms on the Council starting in 1993 and I understand the responsibilities and commitments that a person needs to make to be effective council member. I served on the EDA and various other committees and boards.

I’ve been a downtown building owner.  I’ve been an employer, I’ve been an employee.  I’ve been a landlord, and I’ve been a tenant.  I’ve watched my home value decrease and my taxes increase.  I will bring a common sense viewpoint to the discussion always having one eye on the budgetary impact.

A budget is an important tool, when used properly. I think once you set a budget, you should stick to it.  Not all the sudden find $1,000,000 to buy down the police station site or ½ million dollars for a trail under the viaduct.
 
I believe the public should have been allowed to vote on the new police station. Because of the Councils reluctance to use this method the city will pay ½ million dollars in excess interest payments.  They have also left the fire department hanging.
 
I feel my straight forward, common sense approach to reaching cost effective decisions would be beneficial to the City and Council.
 
Please consider David Delong when you vote on November 6.  Thank you.

Questions

1. Comment on the impact of reduced state aid to the city and tell what measures the city should take to respond to the reduction:

State aid has been reduced over the course of many years.  I believe that the budget should be carefully adopted.  Because of the uncertainty of this funding source it doesn’t make sense, to me, to include these funds in the budget.  The city has been doing a good job at reducing our dependency on state aid.  I think we should keep these funds in the undesignated budget reserve. When a true emergency does come up, we would have some funding available.

2. What are your economic development priorities for the city?

I think we need full membership on the EDA.  We need to continue our efforts at business retention and local expansion.  I think we should continue to work with d the NDDC and NEC. We need to continue to help startup businesses and encourage entrepreneurs   I look forward to finally having the new executive director on board.

3. What are the physical and facility needs of the city? How do you propose to meet them?

I don’t propose anything.  The council is made up of seven people who need to come together and prioritize projects according to needs and fiscal constraints.  Having said that, I think we need to get the new police facility back on a more affordable track.  We also need to take care of the fire department which has been put on the back burner by the Council.  The library has needed it to expand for a number of years. While I personally support it, just like any large expenditure, I feel it needs to be put before the voters, and I feel confident that Northfield taxpayers will do the right thing.

4. If elected, what regular methods will you use to get input from those you represent?

In my years of being on, and observing the council, I’ve seen a lot of things proposed, tried and abandoned.  Ward meetings that become sporadic at best and when they did happen ,the purpose was more to explain council action then to seek public input.  Coffee with the Council, breakfast with the council, they’ve all fallen by the wayside.  The city provides e-mail contact for all council members.  I’m listed in the phonebook, and have had the same number for over 30 years.  I’ve also been approached at the store, the gas station and on the street.  I feel I could regularly and consistently arrive 15 minutes before each Council meeting and answer any constituent questions in an informal face to face manner.

5. Comment on the long-term relationship of the city and the Public Library, the Northfield Hospital and the Northfield Community Resource Center:

There has been some kind of library in the city, in fact longer than Northfield has been a city. It’s an important institution that substantially adds to the quality of life and education in our town.  The hospital is another important institution which continues to be successful without hands on management by the City Council.  I do not support selling the hospital. The NCRC’s bonds are almost paid off, however because of the continuing operational costs, more budget scrutiny has surfaced. I think the relationship between the NCRC and the city has suffered because of the turnover in city staff. Understandings and leases and expectations have changed. The current discussions to sell the NCRC would benefit from informed Council involvement.

6. Comment on the value to the work of the council of the city’s many advisory groups:

I like independent boards and commissions.  I think when trying to solve a problem the more eyes and ears you have, the better your results will be.  There are many educated and informed citizens serving on our boards and commissions.  I value their input, and I don’t believe that boards and commissions should be political beasts of burden. The Council may not agree, but at least they will be better informed. The final decision is ultimately made by the elected body.

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