First-time candidate Weik running for board seatLisa Weik has spent much of her summer and fall with one goal in mind: Get some face time with the public. And that she has.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
Lisa Weik has spent much of her summer and fall with one goal in mind: Get some face time with the public. And that she has.
Weik, an 11-year resident of Woodbury who is running for the fifth district Washington County Commissioner seat, said she intends to get across the entire district, much of it on foot, before election day.
“I think since I started getting out into the neighborhoods this summer I’ve been to thousands of doors,” said Weik, 50.
She and her husband of 29 years, Phil, raised two children who graduated from Woodbury High School — Sarah, 25, and Jeff, 20.
“People are starting to see the signs and the literature, so when they see me at their door, some are pretty surprised. I don’t know if they don’t expect the candidate to actually get out there on their own or not, but that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Most of her campaign efforts really took off after Weik received an endorsement by local Republicans in Senate District 56.
Weik, who has volunteered for the local party, said she realizes the county board race is officially non-partisan, but she feels the GOP endorsement helps validate her credibility as a first-time candidate for office.
“It’s a campaign tool,” Weik said. “It’s definitely a vetting process for some of the public, and it shows that an organizational body looked you over and deemed you qualified to hold the office.”
Weik said she is committed to “representing all of Woodbury.”
“My pledge to the citizens all along has been I am going to represent the best interests of the citizens of Woodbury and the county and I will not be bringing the interests of my party to the board,” she said.
Weik said she decided to run for the open county board seat (left vacant in January after the death of Greg Orth, who was elected in 2006) because she wants to help Woodbury and Washington County residents maintain their quality of life.
“Most of the folks I’ve talked to haven’t complained about the job the board has done,” she said. “They’ve praised it. People love living here and they want to see the county board do an even better job in the areas of responsible development, preserving open space and maintaining our wonderful parks and trails.”
Weik said the city and county’s parks and recreation opportunities are what brought her family here.
“We live near a baseball field, and raised our kids on WAA (Woodbury Athletic Association) sports,” said, Weik, who for many years served as an assistant coach on her son’s baseball teams.
“Behind our house, there’s a baseball field, and even though our kids are grown up, we still love to sit in the backyard and watch the youth games,” she said. “That’s definitely an example of the quality of life we have here in Woodbury and the county.”
Three examples of Weik’s civic/community involvement: Parent volunteer for eight years, Woodbury Athletic Association; Woodbury Days 2008 volunteer, north gate greeter; and former alumni president, University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences from 1999-2000, five-year member College of Biological Sciences Alumni board from 1996-2001.
Q&A with Lisa Weik
This past spring, the Washington County Board voted 3-2 to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase that goes toward a joint-powers group with four other counties. This sales tax amounts to $5 million annually and will fund the established five-county transportation improvement board (CTIB). Would you have voted for or against this quarter-cent sales tax increase and why?
Against. Currently, the deck is stacked against Washington County regarding the newly formed County Transit Improvement Board (CTIB), and many others agree, including our state senator, Kathy Salzman, who recently stated her public "frustration and disappointment" over the language of the agreement saying "If the joint powers membership will not fairly allocate these funds, we need to provide this clarification in statute."
The CTIB agreement, in its current form, is not a prudent investment for Washington County. Our residents pay about $5 million per year and are guaranteed $1 million in services back (for three years only). According to the Met Council's 2030 Plan, there will be no light rail or commuter rail anywhere in Washington County until at least 2030.
Note that Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and the Met Council comprise an overwhelming voting bloc on the committee; CTIB has already voted to spend $270 million dollars on the Minneapolis-St. Paul Central Corridor and Hiawatha light rail.
Additionally, commissioners Dennis Hegberg and Myra Peterson wrote to CTIB members in August that under the current provisions of CTIB “there is not a sufficient return of the resources to Washington County to justify the continued transit sales tax collection.”
In the last few months, county commissioners have expressed concerns that Washington County was contributing more funding to CTIB than it was getting back for the foreseeable future. If elected, is there a circumstance involving this issue in which you would vote to withdraw from the CTIB and end the quarter-cent sales tax increase?
I support exiting the agreement prior to CTIB taking on any long-term debt via bonding for the Central Corridor.
Additionally, because the Joint Powers Agreement was amended after April 7, to include all metro counties in on-going regional transportation planning, (including Scott and Carver counties who opted out of collecting the transit sales tax), Washington County will have a “seat at the table” regarding future regional transit planning if the transit tax is rescinded.
Woodbury residents have indicated to me that they want their transportation dollars spent on roads, bridges, “park and ride” lots and expanded bus service... not light rail trains for Minneapolis. County residents would benefit from rescinding the quarter-cent sales tax and funding our transportation options through Washington County.
With the passing of the recent transportation bill Washington County will be receiving $57 million in additional dollars from the state of Minnesota over the next 10 years to spend as the Washington County Board sees fit. I will make sure that money is wisely spent.
When it comes to transportation, counties generally have a large role in road improvement projects. How much of a role should county government have in relation to public transit?
All transit service in the seven-county metropolitan area falls under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Council. It’s the Met Council’s responsibility to fund bus service through their taxing districts. I feel that we must hold them to that charter and not subsidize transit via property taxes.
Transit service allows everyone to have the mobility we need to live quality lives. I am very committed to mass transit. Our population is aging and with high fuel prices, citizens are looking for options. I support expanded bus service in and around Woodbury, funded via the Met Council taxing districts that will bring continued economic development to the county.
The proposed super-transit hub on the I-94 corridor in Lake Elmo should be given priority along with a feasibility study of a transit corridor parallel to Interstate 94. I support short-term funding for Forest Lake-to-Minneapolis commuter buses hoping the Metropolitan Council will operate the route in 2009.
Do you support the current county board's recently-approved preliminary budget and property tax levy that would result in a 4.9-percent increase in Washington County's share of property taxes for 2009?
No. County government should provide core and essential services well while keeping property taxes low. I have reviewed the county's 2008 budget. I have attended county board meetings and workshops this year and have listened to discussions and decision-points regarding the preliminary 2009 budget. The preliminary budget for next year is $19 million dollars less than the 2008 budget and with the 4.9-percent proposed property tax increase there is an additional 1.0-percent increase for the land and water legacy program.
In anticipation of loss of state and federal aid I will work cooperatively with staff and commissioners to meet revenue shortfalls by considering further cuts to the final budget to be set in December, while applying sound fiscal policy during the budget review process.
A list of proposed budget cuts has already been submitted that identified those programs and services that are not cost-effective or are not deemed core or essential government services.
Considering the economic factors our national, state and local economies are facing, it is a reasonable, pragmatic and informed approach to hold the line on property taxes for 2009.
I am the only candidate in the race that has committed to not raising property taxes.
In 2006, Washington County voters approved an "open space" referendum which enacted a special property tax levy worth $20 million to be dedicated to purchasing and preserving undeveloped land. How vital do you think preserving open space is to the future development of Washington County and why?
Review of the county 2008 Residential Survey Results shows that open space, our rural feel, quality parks and lakes are critical to maintaining and enhancing our quality of life.
I pledge a commitment to provide continued economic growth balanced by responsible development without a high tax rate or bureaucratic regulation.
I will ensure the $20 million that was given to the county following the 2006 passage of the county-wide Land and Water Legacy Act referendum continues to be spent wisely and that recommendation from the citizen appointed Park and Planning Commission are considered.
The county board has the final say on how these dollars are spent on parkland and development-rights purchases (willing sellers only) for open and green space.
I will ensure we leverage as much money from other public and private entities to stretch our dollars as far as possible and also ensure that only the best parcels (good criteria are already in place) are selected, negotiated, and finalized.
Our quality of life here is exceptional. My priority is to expand these assets to attract future families and businesses to our county.
How important is it for the county board to have good working relationships with individual cities within the county? What are some county issues that are specific to Woodbury?
Working cooperatively with city administrators and city council members within the county is absolutely critical to efficient government function and is a priority.
To this end I’ve met with city administrators during my campaign and have attended civic functions in order to initiate and develop relationships with city officials, prior to taking office.
My leadership philosophy is based on the need to partner and bring stake holders together early in the project planning phase for optimum outcomes.
An example of a county issue specific to our city is the pavement replacement on County Road 13 (Radio Drive), from 500 feet north of Donegal Drive to Tamarack Road.
This calendar year the county is projected to spend $2.5 million on pavement preservation projects; roads maintained in good condition are vital to a vibrant city and county economy and residents have stated the need and desire for on-going road improvements.
Other examples include partnering with the R.H. Stafford Library, the opening of the I-94/Radio Drive eastbound ramp and south frontage road, completing home and business values and assessments, and ensuring the timely opening of the new Environmental Center on Bailey Road.
I pledge a cooperative open-door policy, if elected.
County commissioners have voiced their displeasure with the state Legislature recently imposing unfunded mandates onto the county, such as instructing the county to expand the state courthouse in Stillwater and also to house state inmates in the county jail. What can the county do during the next state legislative session to deal with unfunded mandates?
First, we can hold our legislators and Governor accountable — regardless of political party — for fully funding social services within Washington County. The county is only an administrative arm of the state, and therefore, should be treated as such by fully funding programs that directly impact the downtrodden and disenfranchised, which are currently unfunded or underfunded.
Our state leaders should vote for a budget that respects the delicate balance between community needs and its ability to fund services to meet those needs.
I pledge diligence to facilitate restored state funding to unfunded state mandated services and programs because it unfairly and unacceptably places the financial burden on our property tax payers.
While job-shadowing Commissioner Myra Petersen last month I saw firsthand how commissioners from around the state are working toward an open dialog to find solutions to our challenge.
I participated in a “short-term offender media event” related to housing state inmates in the county jail with approximately 100 commissioners who assembled at the State Capitol for a press conference and briefing.
If elected, I promise a cooperative and proactive approach to find sensible solutions that will benefit Woodbury and all of Washington County.