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St. Peter Herald Questionnaire Responses

Here are my responses to the St. Peter Herald questionnaire that was published on October 29th, 2019. For a full list of candidate responses, please see the electronic edition in the Herald:

Keri Johnson (Ward 1 regular election)

BACKGROUND: 33 years old. Personnel Administrator at the St. Peter Food Co-op. I currently serve on the St. Peter Economic Development Authority (EDA), the St. Peter Community Childcare Center (SP3C) Board of Directors, and the #OurStPeter group. I also helped apply to bring the Blandin Foundation’s Leadership in Ethnically Diverse Communities Program to St. Peter and served on the recruitment committee.

What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing the city of St. Peter right now and how would you work to solve it?

Businesses are already feeling the stress of the workforce shortage and this will only become increasingly difficult as demographics change and more “boomers” leave the workforce for retirement. There will continue to be more job vacancies than there are eligible workers to fill those vacancies and this impacts our city’s ability to grow. It’s vital that the city continues to look for proactive solutions for developing an infrastructure that attracts workers to the area, but also encourages current residents to stay in our community. This involves ensuring we have affordable housing options, availability of quality childcare, and that we are a community that is welcoming and inclusive to all. In order to move toward solving these issues, I am interested in continuing our inclusion work, along with looking to our established regional and state partnerships for strategies and resources to address challenges in transportation, housing, and childcare.

In recent years, citywide property taxes have risen for most residents and businesses. Are you concerned about this? What do you believe should be the attitude of the council regarding tax impact in coming years?

This is a primary concern that residents have shared with me throughout my campaign. Contributing to this issue, is the fact that while costs increase each year, employee wages are not keeping up with inflation and those on a fixed income also receive minimal cost of living increases each year. With these factors, I am concerned about the difficulty for individuals and families to budget for the rising cost of property taxes. The council must find a balance to ensure we make the necessary investments to maintain and improve the quality of life in St. Peter and to ensure future sustainability and growth, but not raise taxes to the extent that it impedes the ability to live or do business in our city. Budgeting for our city’s needs with the public’s dollars comes with tremendous responsibility. The council must understand the impact on constituents and ensure their voices are heard.

What does the city need to do better to set itself up for future sustainability and/or growth?

Having been engaged in the work of the city and the council for the past year, I appreciate what the city has done to be proactive in this regard. Yet, we should always strive for continuous improvement. St. Peter isn’t alone in facing sustainability and growth challenges, as numerous other cities struggle with similar issues. Yet, there are many public entities, foundations, and community organizations across Minnesota thinking outside the box and coming up with creative solutions. We should keep an open mind, dive into the research, and explore these ideas to determine if it’s a good fit for implementation in our city. The council will have several new voices making decisions for you next year. I look forward to the opportunity to bring new energy and a fresh perspective to the table as we face challenges together and explore proactive opportunities and solutions that assures St. Peter’s future vitality.

Why should constituents vote for you?

I am running for city council because I am experienced, service-oriented, and I work to build relationships and partnerships in our community. I’ve valued the opportunity to meet hundreds of residents throughout my campaign who’ve shared their hopes, concerns, and ideas with me for what will make our city better. If I am elected, I will keep up this level of engagement in order to effectively represent constituents and to make better decisions, beyond my own values and experiences. My family and I are rooted in St. Peter and we have our own hopes and dreams of living here for many years to come. I feel so fortunate to live in this thriving community and I’m committed and invested in the success of St. Peter. I will work just as hard on the city council as I’ve worked to earn your vote.

City Council Items of Vital Importance

Since 2017, the City Council has kept these issues (listed below) at the heart of what they do. These are issues that also matter to me and I am committed to moving this work forward.

Working toward these goals, I understand the balance between using public dollars responsibly and providing vital services to the meet the needs of the community, as well as ensuring sustainability and growth for our city.

City Council list of items of Vital Importance:
-Community that treats all people like neighbors
-Proactive housing solutions
-Availability of quality health care
-Thriving business community
-Action on the changes in our demographics
-Aesthetically distinctive
-Improved sustainability
-Available early childhood care and educational opportunities and exceptional schools

Issues of Concern to You

Most importantly, I want to know what issues matter most to you. While I have my own set of core values, I plan to remain flexible to the changing needs of our city. That is why I will be reaching out to you in your neighborhoods and out in the community to listen to what you want me to work on as your elected official.

If I am elected, I will find creative ways to engage with St. Peter residents to continue conversations on the issues as they evolve, so I can keep your thoughts and perspectives in mind when making decisions that impact our community the most.

I encourage you to also connect with me on my Contact page or via Facebook to share your thoughts.

Prepared and Paid for by
Keri Johnson for City Council Committee
1912 Orchard Ridge
St. Peter, MN 56082
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