Afton mayoral election: Bob Dickie Q&AOn Nov. 4, the voters of Afton will have two candidates for mayor — Bob Dickie and Pat Snyder — on their election ballot. The Bulletin submitted questions to the candidates and both replied.
On Nov. 4, the voters of Afton will have two candidates for mayor — Bob Dickie and Pat Snyder — on their election ballot. The Bulletin submitted questions to the candidates and both replied.
(A third candidate, Kuchen Meyer, recently declared herself a write-candidate. As her name will not be on the ballot, the Bulletin's questions were not offered to her.)
What follows are the responses by Bob Dickie.
Name: Bob Dickie
Job title/status: Attorney
Years as Afton resident: 24
Family: Married, three children
Civic/community involvement: Co-founder of Main Street Afton group, member of the comprehensive plan review commission, co-chairman of Afton’s Old Village task force
1. What do you believe is the best way to approach development in Afton?
The best residential development is none. Development of any kind can adversely impact ground and surface water. Once that is destroyed, the Afton we know today is gone. With innovative long range planning, Afton will be able to retain its unique quality as a rural-residential oasis. Afton must consider the use of all the modern planning tools available in order to resist the intense development pressures enhanced by 21st century economic and legal realities. Purchasing development rights, providing incentives for farmers large or small to keep land in production, encouraging and directing industrial and commercial development in areas already zoned for such uses, using the resulting increased commercial property tax revenues to pay for preservation efforts, must all be a part of Afton’s innovative plan to stop suburban sprawl.
2. How do you believe the city should fund road maintenance?
Long range planning must be implemented that survives more than a single election cycle. Any funding plan, “pay-as-you-go” or bonding or a combination of the two is a stretch in Afton today because the city’s property tax revenues are so limited. The question should be how to raise infrastructure revenue that is not the result of increasing the amount of money collected from residential property taxes. Afton should consider maximizing its commercial and industrial property tax collections from areas already zoned for such uses. For those roads that are in such disrepair that they can’t wait for us to fix the structural tax problem, we should bond for a lower (but acceptable) road standard, narrow roads where possible, and place the savings in a road maintenance endowment.
3. What is your vision for the Old Village?
The Old Village is, in many ways, Afton’s front door. The vision of many of my neighbors and that which I share is one in which we can safely raise our children in a rural community that is enhanced by a thriving business district that has become a “day trip” destination for visitors. The historic connection to the St. Croix has been re-established (the village is a river town not just for owners of large boats), the roads and streets are properly maintained, water runoff is managed, sidewalks are repaired, the gas lights are re-lit, and the historic qualities of an early 20th century rural village are protected. Afton’s Old Village will become a leader in ground water protection and localized waste treatment management. The Old Village will contribute significant amounts of commercial property tax revenue to the entire community.
4. The approval earlier this year of a stealth communications tower and a recent inquiry with regard to wind turbines in Afton has provoked some debate. What is your view on these structures and their place in Afton?
A wind turbine farm isn’t a good fit in a rural-residential community that values unobstructed views. However, small scale single windmills that do not impact the surrounding property owners and that do not harm bird populations, could be considered as an appropriate means of mitigating our dependency on fossil fuels. A broader question should be: “What conservation measures can Afton promote that fit with our environmental values?” Energy conservation through construction methods, groundwater protection, chemical and fertilizer use are some topics a functional city government can promote. I was/am concerned that Afton’s residents were not a partner in the conversation as to how to design/build/locate the tower. Creative solutions were not seriously considered as the county appeared to have already made up its mind. We need to do a better job of working through the next issue: whether we should allow more cell phone towers and cable television transmitters.
5. Afton has somewhat of a reputation for divisive politics. What would you do if elected to bring consensus and resolution to city government?
I have made a fair campaign pledge – no lawn signs, no campaign committee, no slanderous letters, joint mailings, joint neighborhood appearances, even joint financing of campaigns – to dramatically break with the past. My opponent rejected my offer and is running the traditional Afton team campaign. I am running for mayor independent of a group or team. Group campaigns make later consensus government nearly impossible. Look at the last several elections. Council members exhibit utter contempt for each other. They feel no need to work with a member of a different group. I have proposed regular town-hall meetings to discuss issues of public concern so that council members and residents can hear from each other. No votes, no shouting, just neighbors sitting around a table working things out. We are all on one team: Afton.