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Afton City Council Q&A: Kris Kopitzke

The Bulletin asked Afton City Council candidates the following questions:

Age: 39

City: Afton

Education: Master of business administration from the University of St. Thomas; Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia.

Occupation: Systems reliability engineer with Medtronic

Family: Wife Lisa; son Kieran, 3; and son Connery, 10 months.

Civic involvement: Two terms on Afton Planning Commission; former member of Afton Comprehensive Plan Citizens Committee; Afton Parks Committee; numerous ordinance development committees.

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

A: The major issues facing Afton are all about infrastructure and will have significant long term impacts on the community - flood control in the historic village, the renovation of main street and managing ongoing development pressure. These are the projects that, if not implemented correctly, will have consequences on the community that we may not have the opportunity to correct for decades. That's why it's critical to make sure the community gets the right solution and solutions that we can afford, the first time.

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

A: First I'd like to make sure the city and the citizens that have to pay for the project are aware of the costs and the benefits. Second, the city needs a clear plan, with schedule milestones and cost targets, so that all stakeholders will know what to expect. The City Council's oversight to date has been ad-hoc, and I'm concerned the residents won't get what they need out of the project - flood control for the next generation that we can afford. A little basic program management would go a long ways to ensure the city gets the solutions it needs.

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

A: The downturn in the housing market has provided Afton with some breathing room, but in the next four years, our development ordinances will need to be reviewed. The time to make changes is before development pressures rise again; too often in the past, the pressures of a single development request have driven the city to less than optimal development solutions while inviting lawsuits. One lesson we can take away from the last decade of efforts to manage development is that the solutions employed in other communities don't always align with Afton's vision. We need our own solution.

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

A: City government has a few core functions that people expect to pay for: road maintenance, plowing, parks, police and fire protection and a modest level of support from City Hall for ad hoc issues as they arise. Beyond that, it's reasonable to expect special infrastructure projects to arise from time to time and the City Council has a responsibility to assess the return on investment to taxpayers. Though I might not agree with how every nickel has been spent, overall the city's handling of our tax dollars has been fair the past several years.

Q: Why are you running?

A: Part of citizenship in a democracy is offering your skills to the community when necessary. As Afton faces the challenges of the next four years, my skills and experience would be a valuable addition. I have over fifteen years of experience in system development and project management, including Lockheed Martin and Medtronic. I have experience working in a government oversight role, as a government contractor and as a summer survey assistant for Washington County Public Works. Whether as a member or the City Council, Planning Commission, or in another role, I look forward to continuing to serve my hometown.

Kris Kopitzke is the challenger for Afton City Council's Ward 1 seat.