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Afton City Council Q&A: Barb Ronningen

Age: 65

City: Afton

Education: Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago; Master of Arts from the University of California-Los Angeles; PhD candidate from the University of Chicago

Occupation: Demographer, retired

Family: three children; three grandchildren

Civic involvement: 10 years on the Afton Planning Commission, current chairwoman; served on the Natural Resources and Groundwater Commission; coordinator of the Rinta Community Garden project; manager of the 2010 Census Campaign for Minnesota; president of the Washington County Horticultural Society; chair of the Washington County Citizen Review Panel; head election judge for Ward 4; chair of the Women of the ELCA at Memorial Lutheran Church; board member of the North Star Lily Society and the North American Lily Society.

The Bulletin asked Afton City Council candidates the following questions:

Q: What do you see as the major issues facing Afton?

A: The major issue facing Afton is how to manage future development. Afton's recently revised Comprehensive Plan lays out a plan for the future. The Afton City Council needs to approve only that development which is consistent with the city's Comprehensive Plan, while preventing development which is inconsistent with the plan. Afton must develop its infrastructure, but do so in a financially prudent manner.

Q: How would you like to see the city's flood mitigation project progress?

A: The grant enables Afton to make needed improvements to the city's levee at reduced cost to local taxpayers. I hope Afton's levee will be accredited, that issues with septic systems in the Old Village will be addressed in a fiscally prudent manner and that more public input will be solicited in order to meet Afton's needs. I would like to see better communication of decisions related to this project to ensure everyone is comfortable with it. In this regard, I disagree with Councilman Nelson, who has opposed informational public meetings on the project. Afton residents deserve open and accessible government.

Q: How do you think the city should manage development?

A: Afton must carefully control development to ensure the maximum density provided for in the Comprehensive Plan is not exceeded. This plan was developed over a period of many months and included citizen forums, the Planning Commission and the City Council. After much deliberation, the Comprehensive Plan was submitted to the City Council where it received four "yes" votes, Councilman Nelson voting "no." The plan was then submitted to the Metropolitan Council and received their approval without qualification. This Comprehensive Plan best represents Afton residents' hopes for the future, and provides a template and excellent tools for managing development in Afton.

Q: What are your views on the city's handling of taxpayer dollars?

A: Fiscal responsibility is essential to maintain the public trust in government. Spending should be transparent and financial decisions should be made to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

Q: Why are you running?

A: I'm running because I believe Ward 4 deserves a council representative who listens to the concerns of all residents, who understands the needs of the city and has a vision for Afton's future that aligns with the Comprehensive Plan. My experience makes me the best candidate to represent Afton's Ward 4.

Barbara Ronningen is the challenger for Afton City Council's Ward 4 seat.