Rhonda Pownell

Candidate for Council-At-Large (2-year term)

pownellI believe that there are great things ahead for the city of Northfield.  We are to be a city that others look to for guidance and leadership.

It's time to pave new ground, to leave the past behind and forge ahead.  To bring in industry to build up our city's tax base, implement the new comprehensive plan, spend wisely and bring a sense of peace and unity back to our city.

We are at a time in our city where we need team players with positive attitudes and a vision for an excellent future.  Northfield is an awesome place to live!  I encourage you to get out and vote on Nov. 4th.

Return to Election 2008 page.

Responses to questions submitted by Northfield.org participants:

1. Have you had experience as a landlord of rental properties? What do you think about the current rental ordinance? Would you recommend changes? What enforcement mechanisms do you recommend?

I lived next to a rental property on the East side and have been a renter.  I believe the current rental ordinance was badly needed and would not recommend any changes at this time.  Fines and applicable public service are two of the enforcement mechanisms I would recommend.
2. What will you do to help ensure the economic vitality of our downtown area? What vision do you have for what Northfield should be like in ten or twenty years?

It is very important that our downtown businesses prosper.  Our downtown has long been the gathering place for our events and celebrations.  This needs to continue as well as our efforts to improve the aesthetic appeal of the downtown area.  In addition providing businesses with various loans and grant programs and seeking out other creative ways to help the downtown businesses will be important.

I am a strong supporter of the comprehensive plan.  Annexing land for industry, developing the land that’s currently within city limits, and improving our riverfront are just a few of the goals in the comp plan.  I believe that as we follow the plan we will continue to grow in a way that enhances the beauty and charm that Northfield loves.

3. What are the particular skills you bring to the council? What are the most important personal attributes a council member can bring to the table?

I am a strong visionary leader who’s detail oriented, decisive, hard working, service driven, self motivated, honest, and discerning.  I am also a good communicator and team player.  I believe an important personal attribute will be a willingness and an ability to seek out information to make informed, effective, and decisive decisions for the good of the city as a whole.  Also the ability to discern any action or details that needs to be taken care of will be important.

4. Can you identify an area where you will need further information or experience before you can be an effective council member?

I’m excited to dig in and learn everything that I need to know.  I have been attending city council meetings regularly for over a year now and will continue to do so.  In addition I am doing everything possible to make sure I am well equipped to be an effective council member.  I’ve already been interviewing key city leaders and seeking out additional city leadership training so that I can hit the ground running come January.  I am committed to you and committed to this city.

5. What role does the city play in developing a sustainable energy supply for its citizens? What plans should be set in place?

There is currently an Energy Task Force made up of seven Northfield citizens who have worked on this.  It was their recommendation to not create a municipal electric company at this economically unstable time because it is so expensive to do so.  However, they did recommend using renewable energy to power the new industrial park and creating a special energy district for our existing industry and institutions.  I believe we as a city should support all viable options.  See our city’s website for the Energy Task Force’s complete report.    

6. What is the state of relations between the city and its major employers, particularly the two colleges and Malt-o-Meal? How should these relationships be improved and sustained?

We need to take the lead in fostering and improving our relationship with these entities.  I believe we have a good working relationship with them, but it could always be improved.  A large part of this is done through positive/open communication and simply asking them what we can do for them.

7. As a candidate, what are your top two or three priorities for the next two years?

Our primary focus is going to be bringing in industry to build up our tax base.  People love Northfield and businesses will too.  Implementing our comprehensive plan, spending wisely, and bringing a sense of peace and unity back to our city will also be very important.

8. What steps should be taken to ensure that the city employs talented and motivated public servants?

We need to do a thorough search for applicants as well as conduct a thorough interview process.  Citizen input from the boards and commissions would be very important in this process.  In addition providing a competitive salary and nice working environment would also be helpful in attracting the most talented and motivated public servants. 

9. How do you think the council should go about hiring the permanent city administrator?

I believe there needs to be an extensive interview process involving citizens, staff, and the council.  This may involve a meet and greet time for the public, a city tour, a meeting with the top city staff, individual interviews with each council member, group interviews etc.  The new council will need to agree on the best possible process to ensure we hire an administrator that fits our unique qualifications.             

10. What will you do to try to recover the missing 2.3 million city dollars.

Currently the city is keeping in contact with the FBI and IRS who are conducting the investigation.  The city has been advised by the League of City attorneys to not file suit.  It would not be cost effective at this point.   I will continue to ask that the council be kept up to date on what’s happening with the investigation.  And at any point in the future that filing suit would be an option; I believe we should do so.

11. Northfield and Dundas share a sewer plant that may be approaching its capacity. In an effort to not find out in 2012 that we "broke the plant" in 2010, the Dundas planning commission and city council have in place a simple worksheet that is used to evaluate every platting request to see if it would make us exceed the capacity. This should keep us from finding out after the fact that we have overpromised this growth-limiting resource to developers. This simple analysis will also let us not have to go to taxpayers and have them subsidize other people's profits in an unjust way. As a city council person, are you willing to ask for and use this question of capacity BEFORE you consider and approve new growth?

Absolutely.  This should be considered before any new development is approved.  This is also addressed in the Sewer and Water Resources section of our Comprehensive Plan.

12. Given the fatal traffic accident that occurred at Jefferson Parkway and Division Street, if elected how would you prioritize the concern over the safety of this intersection against the other infrastructure plans?

As with any intersection where children are involved, there needs to be great care taken to assure its safety.  There is currently a Safe Routes Advisory Committee looking into this intersection to determine what could be done to make the intersection safer.  When these findings are available, I will work to make sure all recommendations are carried through expeditiously.

13. What is your plan for integrating the working poor into the economic growth potential of our community?

I would like to see a mentoring/apprenticeship program set up for the working poor.  In this program business owners would train up leaders among the poor who would in turn train up others.  If we want to change the future this is one place to start.  The poor are a key part of the solution in breaking the cycle of poverty.

14. Do you have plans or goals for the City of Northfield regarding the health, welfare, and wellbeing of children in the community? Specifically, I see on the City of Northfield's website that the City Council has pledged its commitment to the 2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. I would like to know how you plan on supporting this effort.

Children are our future.  Simply teaching them how to resolve their differences in a peaceful appropriate manner would be a major accomplishment.  This is a necessary life skill.  This could easily be taught in the school system and may already be.  In addition to this I believe eradicating heroin from our city is of utmost importance for the health, welfare, and wellbeing of our children.  I am a strong supporter of the Neighborhood Watch program and would like to see the whole city participate.